PSC 421: Environmental Policy                                                                    Syllabus

Spring 2006


I.  Instructor Information

Danny Gonzales, Ph.D.

1500 College Parkway (Berg Hall)

Elko, Nevada 89801

Work: 775.753.2114


Office hours: Call or e-mail to schedule an appointment


II.  Catalog Description & Prerequisites

PSC 421: Environmental Policy (3 credits)

An examination of environmental policy and environmental law including issues in policy formulation and implementation, the basic statutory and regulatory frameworks, and judicial interpretation of the law.


Prerequisites: Nine credit hours of 100-200 level social sciences courses and six credit hours of 100-200 level science courses, or instructor’s approval. 


III.  Course Description 

In general, the course is designed to examine the public policy making processes associated with environmental policies and politics.  The primary emphasis is on American environmental policies and policymaking process.  Specific environmental issues and case studies will be reviewed and assessed using public policy making models.  A review of the participants involved with the implementation of environmental policies includes the bureaucracy, legislature, courts, interest groups, and community organizations.  Issues related to sustainable communities are also examined.        


IV.  Required Textbooks, Recommended Readings, & Additional Materials

Kraft, Michael E. 2004. Environmental Policy and Politics (3rd Ed). New York, New York: Pearson Education, Inc.


Kingdon, John W. 2003. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (2nd Ed.). New York, New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc.


Mazmanian, Daniel A. and Michael E. Kraft Eds. Toward Sustainable Communities: Transition and Transformations in Environmental Policy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.


Additional reading materials will be distributed in class, placed on reserve at the GBC library, and posted on WebCT.





V.  Grading Policy & Point System 

You will be required to write and present a research paper on a topic to be approved by the instructor.  A take home midterm will be administered, and you have one week to complete.  A review of the expectations for all assignments will be discussed during the first day of class.  Late assignments will be marked down two-thirds of a letter grade.  Grades will be based on the following:


Assignment                                                     Percent of Final Grade

Précis Assignments (8)                          35%

Research paper, proposal and presentation       25%

Midterm examination                                        15%

Seminar participation, attendance,                     25%

   and WebCT reactions/bulletin boards            

TOTAL                                                            100%



<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.0              <!--[endif]-->A

3.67     A-

3.33     B+

3.00     B

2.67     B-

2.33     C+

2.00     C

1.67     C-

1.33     D+

1.00     D

0.67     D-

0.33     F


VI.  Attendance, Bulletin Board Discussions (BBD),  & Class Participation

Class attendance, participation, and reaction to WebCT posted assignments are essential and accounts for 25% of your final grade.  The following outlines the BBD protocol:


<!--[if !supportLists]-->1)            <!--[endif]-->BBD prompt posted by instructor on Monday
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2)            <!--[endif]-->Initial response due by midnight on Saturday of that week
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3)            <!--[endif]-->Second follow-up to a colleague's initial posting due in next few days
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4)            <!--[endif]-->BBD closes on Monday at midnight  

VII.  Course Goals & Learning Outcomes

Upon the successful completion of this course, you will have developed a thorough understanding of the following elements of environmental policies and politics:


<!--[if !supportLists]-->1)      <!--[endif]-->Application of public policy frameworks to assess environmental policies and stakeholder influences

<!--[if !supportLists]-->2)      <!--[endif]-->Understanding of policy cycles and environmental policy subsystems

<!--[if !supportLists]-->3)      <!--[endif]-->Dynamics of federalism in American government at the local, state, and federal level

<!--[if !supportLists]-->4)      <!--[endif]-->Utilization of case studies to examine environmental policies

<!--[if !supportLists]-->5)      <!--[endif]-->Planning methods and strategies toward establishing policies associated with sustainable communities  

<!--[if !supportLists]-->6)      <!--[endif]-->Evaluation models to assess environmental policy decisions


VIII.  Method of Instruction & Class Meeting Schedule

The class is hybrid in nature that consists of convening monthly meetings and utilization of the WebCT platform. 

Class Meeting Schedule (Interactive video)

Wednesday, February 1         5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.            (Refer to WebCt for Information)         

Friday, February 3                 5:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Friday, March 3                     4:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.            (Refer to WebCt for Information)         

Friday, April 7                                       4:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Friday, May 5                                       4:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.           


IX.  Course Assignments & Content

Course assignments, class discussions, responses to WebCT assignments will require the student to prepared to discuss in depth and breadth environmental public policy issues as outlined in the required text.  In order to introduce a wide spectrum of public policy perspectives and ideas to facilitate class discussions, guest speakers will be invited.  The following describes the assignments: 


A.  Research paper and presentation:     

You will select and have approved a research topic and be required to make a 15-minute presentation to your colleagues in class.  The length of the research paper is 13-15 pages, typed, and double-spaced.  Appropriate research citations are required.


C.  Midterm examination:                 

The midterm examination will cover the lectures and readings from the January to April.  The midterm examination will be take home consisting of 15 questions.  You will be able to select 7 out of the 15 questions to answer.  Sample questions will be posted. 


D.  Précis:

A précis is a concise analysis of the assigned readings and class discussions.  The précis is designed for the student to contrast and compare the scholarly contributions to the public policy literature and frameworks.  Journal articles and questions will be posted on a regular basis on WebCT.  The length of each précis is 3 pages, typed, 12 font, and double-spaced.  Appropriate research citations are required. 


E.  Seminar participation, bulletin board discussions, and attendance:       

Seminar participation and attendance is mandatory.  Students will introduce and guide chapter and journal article discussions.  It is expected that you read the assigned readings prior to class and deadlines to posted WebCT assignments.  It is also expected that you be prepared to offer constructive criticisms of the scholarly works. 


X.  Schedule

The following is the schedule for the spring 2006 semester, including topics, assigned textbook chapters and journal articles, and assignments:






Assigned Readings




Due Date



Feb. 3


Cadillac Desert



Overview of syllabus, class expectations, and public policy making process



Assessing sustainable communities


C. 1-5




C. 1-3




C. 1-2


Jan. 30


Jan. 30


Feb. 6


Feb. 6


Feb. 13


Feb. 13

Bulletin #1


Précis 1


Bulletin #2


Précis 2


Bulletin #3


Précis 3

Feb. 6


Feb. 8


Feb. 13


Feb. 15


Feb. 20


Feb. 20



March 3










March 27-April 1 (Spring Break)

Historical overview of environmental policy and participants.


Examination of substantive policy areas   


Continuation of examination of substantive policy areas



C. 6-10


C. 4-5


C. 3-5





C. 6-7




Feb. 20


Feb. 20


Feb. 27



March 6


March 20


March 20



Bulletin #4


Précis 4


Research Proposals




Bulletin #5


Précis 5



Feb. 27


March 1


March 6



March 15


March 27


March 29









April 7



Speaker (TBA)





Case studies



Sustainable communities and future of environmental policies and politics


U.S. Secretary of Interior Assignment


Review of mining sustainability reports


C. 6-8



C. 7-8



C. 9





Online reports

March 20



March 20



April 3



April 3


April 17



April 17

Bulletin #6



Précis 6



Bulletin  # 7



Précis #7


Bulletin  # 8



Précis #8

March 27



March 27



April 10



April 12


April 24



April 26


Finals Week


May 5



Class presentations




Paper due

May 5

(1) Refer to WebCT for updated information on class schedule.  (2) Précis assignment and bulletin board discussion questions will be posted on WebCT.  (3) Depending on the nature of the assignment, students will have 7-10 days to complete. (4) The instructor reserves the right to modify the syllabus during the semester.