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STEP Courses: 2016-2017

(eligible for certificate credit)

ENE 518/CBE 518 Fundamentals Of Biofuels (Fall 2016)

Jose L. Avalos

The course defines biofuels and explains their essential role in the development of renewable energy. It introduces biochemical and thermochemical methods of biofuel production, and challenges to achieving their sustainable production, including land use, water use, and competition with food production issues. In the first half of the course, first-generation biofuels are discussed. In the second half, next-generation biofuels (cellulosic, drop-in, algae, and electrofuels) are covered. Synthetic biology and microbial engineering, as well as environmental, economic, and societal impacts of biofuels are also addressed.

This course is designed as a practical introduction to the use of computer mapping (Geographic Information systems) for policy analysis and decision-making. Students learn ArcGIS through examples of map applications. Students are expected to complete exercises and a final project applying GIS to a policy issue.

WWS 581C Topics in Economics: Energy Economics (Fall 2016)

Amy B. Craft

This course examines the economics behind many issues related to energy use, including the investment and use of renewable and non-renewable resources, energy conservation, deregulation of energy markets, transportation, and energy independence. Current policy options will be discussed.

WWS 591D Policy Workshop - State Level Policies on Renewables in the Energy Sector (Fall 2016)

Jeanne M.Fox and Anne E. Hoskins


This policy workshop focuses on state-level policies on renewables in the energy sector.


WWS 593N Topics in Policy Analysis (Half term) GIS for Public Policy (Fall 2016)

William G.Guthe and Tsering W. Shawa

This course is designed as a practical introduction to the use of computer mapping (Geographic Information systems) for policy analysis and decision-making. Students learn ArcGIS through examples of map applications. Students are expected to complete exercises and a final project applying GIS to a policy issue

Soc 575 Topics in Migration and Development (Half-Term)- Migration and Development (Fall 2016)

Alejandro Portes

(This course requires the approval of the STEP director and a paper focused on STEP material)

This course reviews the literature on international migration and national development with special attention on the role of immigrant transnationalism and transnational organizations on the local/regional/national development of sending countries. Special topics include the role of states, sending and receiving, in the transnational field.

WWS 306/ Eco 329/ Env 319 Environmental Economics (Fall 2016)

Smita B. Brunnermeier

Course introduces use of economics in understanding both the sources of and the remedies to environmental and resource allocation problems. It emphasizes the reoccurrence of economic phenomena like public goods, externalities, market failure and imperfect information. Students learn about the design and evaluation of environmental policy instruments, the political economy of environmental policy, and the valuation of environmental and natural resource services. The concepts are illustrated in a variety of applications from domestic pollution of air, water and land to international issues such as global warming and sustainable development.

*Please note STEP will allow one undergraduate level course in science or engineering to count for Certificate credit. Generally, undergraduate level courses ( 300 or 400 level) can receive certificate credit in consultation with the STEP director and the course professor regarding extra work   such as a longer more advanced paper than those required of undergraduates. Below is a pre-approved list of courses for Fall 2016 with notations.   Consideraton of other potential certificate courses not listed is also possible with approval of the STEP director.

ENV 302/CEE 302/EEB 302 Practical Models For Environmental Systems (Fall 2016)

Michael Celia

Humans are increasingly affecting environmental systems throughout the world. This is especially true for activities associated with energy production, water use, and food production. To understand the environmental impacts, quantitative modeling tools are needed. This course introduces quantitative modeling approaches for environmental systems, including global models for carbon cycling; local and regional models for water, soil, and vegetation interactions; and models for transport of pollutants in both water and air. Students will develop simple models for all of these systems, and apply the models to a set of practical problems

GEO 361/ENV 361/EEB 304/CEE 360 Earth's Atmosphere (Fall 2016)

Stephan A. Fueglistaler

This course discusses the processes that control Earth's climate - and as such the habitability of Earth - with a focus on the atmosphere and the global hydrological cycle. The course balances overview lectures (also covering topics that have high media coverage like the 'Ozone hole' and 'Global warming', and the impact of volcanoes on climate) with selected in-depth analyses. The lectures are complemented with homework based on real data, demonstrating basic data analysis techniques employed in climate sciences.

COS 432/ ELE 432 Information Security (Fall 2016)

Nick Feamster

Security issues in computing, communications, and electronic commerce. Goals and vulnerabilities; legal and ethical issues; basic cryptology; private and authenticated communication; electronic commerce; software security; viruses and other malicious code; operating system protection; trusted systems design; network security; firewalls; policy, administration and procedures; auditing; physical security; disaster recovery; reliability; content protection; privacy.

EEB 417B/ ENV 417B Ecosystems and Global Change (Fall 2016)

Lars O. Hedin

An introduction to the study of how humans are affecting complex ecological systems at local to global scales. Students will examine nutrient cycling, energy flow, and evolutionary processes, with emphasis on experimental approaches and comparisons between terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Particular attention will be on human influences-climate change, biofuels, biodiversity loss, eutrophication, and acid rain. Lectures cover theoretical elements and examples from the primary literature. The laboratory is organized around local ecosystems in which students conduct independent group research projects.

MAE 228/EGR 228/CBE228/ENE228: Energy Technologies in the 21st Century (Fall 2016)

Jay B. Benziger and Yiguang Ju

This course will deal with issues of regional and global energy demands, sources, carriers, storage, current and future technologies and costs for energy conversion, and their impact on climate and the environment. Students will learn to perform objective cost-efficiency and environmental impact analyses from source to end-user on both fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas), and alternative energy sources (bio-fuels, solar energy, wind, batteries, and nuclear). We will also pay particular attention to energy sources, technologies, emissions, and regulations for transportation. The course will also include tours to energy research labs.

ENV 316: Climate Science and Communications (Fall 2016)

Michael D. Lemonick and Flora Lichtman

(This undergraduate level course requires permission of the STEP director for level of graduate course work and focus of the advanced paper requirement)

 In order to address the risks of climate change, people need accurate information. Most of this information comes from the world of science and requires translation. The role of science communicators is crucial. The goal of this course is to give students the technical, narrative and critical-evaluation skills needed to communicate climate science in both print and video. The course begins with an overview of the state of climate science and communications. We then discuss critical elements of journalism, and apply those discussions in a series of writing assignments. The last weeks focus on video production using Final Cut Pro software.

ENV 407/AFS 407: Africa's Food and Conservation Challenge (Fall 2016)

Lyndon D. Estes and Tim D. Searchinger

This course will explore the economic, environmental, and social challenges of meeting growing food needs in sub-Saharan Africa. The region today has the lowest crop yields, the highest percentage of hungry people, and the highest population growth rates, and relies heavily on firewood for energy. The region also has vast areas of environmentally valuable forests and savannas. It has technical opportunities to produce crops better but faces challenges from high rainfall variability and climate change. The course will balance instruction, guest lectures and presentations by student teams, which will also produce a final paper.

HIS 491/ENV 491: History of Ecology and Environmentalism (Fall 2016)

Erika L. Milam

(This undergraduate level course requires permission of the STEP director for level of graduate course work and focus of the advanced paper requirement)

The word 'ecology' evokes the scientific discipline that studies the interactions between and among organisms and their environments, and also resonates with the environmental movement of the sixties, green politics, and conservation. This course explores the historical development of ecology as a professional science, before turning to the political and social ramifications of ecological ideas. Throughout the course, we will situate the history of ecological ideas in their cultural, political, and social context.

CEE 334/WWS 452/ ENV 334/ENE 334: Global Environmental Issues (Fall 2016)

Denise Mauzerall

This course examines a set of global environmental issues including population growth, ozone layer depletion, climate change, air pollution, the environmental consequences of energy supply and demand decisions and sustainable development. It provides an overview of the scientific basis for these problems and examines past, present and possible future policy responses. Individual projects, presentations, and problem sets are included.

WWS 594L: Disease Ecology, Economics, and Policy (Fall 2016)

Bryan Grenfell

The dynamics of the emergence and spread of disease arise from a complex interplay between disease ecology, economics, and human behavior. Lectures will provide an introduction to complementarities between economic and epidemiological approaches to understanding the emergence, spread, and control of infectious diseases. The course will cover topics such as drug-resistance in bacterial and parasitic infections, individual incentives to vaccinate, the role of information in the transmission of infectious diseases, and the evolution of social norms in healthcare practices.


WWS 340/ PSY 321 The Psychology of Decision Making (Fall 2016)

Eldar Shafir

An introduction to the logic and research findings underlying decision-making and judgment under uncertainty. The focus is on the contrast between the rational theory of judgment and choice, and the psychological principles that guide decision behavior, often producing biases and errors. Among other topics, we will consider political, medical, and financial decision-making, poverty, negotiation, and the law, along with the implications of the findings for the rational agent model typically assumed in economics, throughout the social sciences, and in policy making.

WWS 354 Modern Genetics and Public Policy (Fall 2016)

Shirley M. Tilghman and Keith Wailoo

(This undergraduate level course requires permission of the STEP director for level of graduate course work and focus of the advanced paper requirement)

Examines modern genetics' implications for public policy focusing on health, law, consumer products, and criminal justice. Topics include: eugenics; gene patenting; gene therapy; FDA consumer regulations of genetic testing; genetic discrimination; forensic use of DNA; and stem cell therapy. Explores social, political, and philosophical problems that modern genetics pose in areas such as the changing conceptions of the self; genetic enhancement vs. therapy; genetic nature of race; new theories of gene action in epigenetics; genetically modified plants and animals; and genetic privacy.