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STEP Courses: Spring-2017

Guide to STEP course classifications

STEP has created a simplified nomenclature to assist you in determining whether a course can receive Certificate credit. We divide courses into three groups: Core (C), Science (S), and Other Relevant Courses (ORC).

Core courses (labeled CORE) receive certificate credit on a pre-certified basis without the need to consult with the STEP Program director.

 *Note: Beginning Sept 1st 2017, two courses labeled CORE will be required of all WWS MPA/MPP certificate applicants as part of their 4 courses requirement. And, one such course will be required of all other applicants, STEP-PEI and independent departmental PHD’s, as part of their three courses requirement.

Science courses (labeled SCIENCE). These courses can be either graduate (500) or undergraduate (300 or 400) level. The purpose of a science course is to introduce students who lack a science background to a scientific form of inquiry within a   specific subject matter area.
Typically, a science course need not involve any policy focus.

 A science course requires the permission of the STEP director to receive certificate credit.

*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

* note: in consultation with the STEP director, a science course (S) can be modified to become an Other Relevant Course (ORC) by supplementing its non-policy orientation.   This requires a consultation concerning the courses STEP relevance, level, and focus of work including papers written as part of the course.

Other Relevant Courses (ORC) This is a list of courses posted to the STEP website (labeled ORC) or if not posted to the website can be proposed for certificate credit by the applicants themselves.  

Credit for such courses requires a prior consultation with the STEP director for course relevance, course level and focus of assignments.   For level, a course must meet graduate level requirements and may need modification of papers and other course elements to do so.   For focus, course work, especially course papers, should incorporate strongly an approved STEP theme and be formulated in consultation with the STEP director in order to receive credit.

Spring 2017 Courses List

WWS 548 Weapons of Mass Destruction and International Security (Core)

Christopher F. Chyba

This course examines the roles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in international security historically, at present, and in possible futures. The technical basis for these weapons will be presented at a level suitable for the non-scientist, and the challenges of state and non-state acquisition or development will be assessed. Topics to be examined include deterrence, defense, preemption, arms control, nonproliferation, and plausible terrorist capabilities.

WWS 571c Topics in Development - Global Challenges of Infection, Burden & Control (Core)

Adel A. Mahmoud

An exploration of the biological, public health and global dimensions of infectious disease. The basic features of human-microbe interactions by examining several viral, bacterial and parasitic infections are analyzed.. Emphasis includes biology, burden of illness and domestic and global forces shaping the expanding threat. Control strategies, including chemotherapy, vaccines and environmental changes; and the role of international organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, and GAVI and the major philanthropies, are considered.

WWS 586D Topics in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy - Global Environmental Governance (Core)

Michael Oppenheimer

Examines intl law & governance in the context of environmental problems. Considers the need for regulation under conditions of scientific uncertainty in issues such as climate change, fisheries management, whaling management, biodiversity conservation, and ozone depletion. Explores the efficacy of diverse regulatory approaches, mechanisms for scientific advice to policymakers & participation by business firms and NGOs. Considers intersections between environmental regulation (both domestic and international) with trade, investment, & multilateral development and aid programs.


WWS586F/COS586 Topics in STEP - Information Technology and Public Policy (Core)

David P. Dobkin and Joanna N. Huey

Course examines a range of infotech policy issues, including privacy, intellectual property, free speech, competition, regulation of broadcasting and telecommunications, cross-border and jurisdictional questions, broadband policy, spectrum policy, management of the Internet, computer security, education and workforce development, and research funding.



WWS594L Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term) - ICT for International Development (ORC/*relevance to STEP

Patricia N. Mechael

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are rapidly growing in significance in sectors such as health, agriculture, finance, education, democracy and governance. The aim of this course is to provide a practical framework for students to apply participatory approaches to ICT to accelerate development with a special focus on low and middle-income countries. Using the "principles for digital development" as a lens, we will explore ways that mobile phones, tablets, sensors, drones and other computer-based applications and tools can be designed and implemented for social change

WWS594O Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term) - Urbanization, Migration and Climate Change (Core)

Deborah L. Balk

This course examines two hallmark demographic behaviors of the 21st century: urbanization and migration and places those changes in the context of climate-change adaptation and mitigation, and consider policy and programs that address these issues. The course focuses on changes in a developing-country context. Students learn to examine theory and evidence that is used at the local, national and international level to understand populations at risk in the short and long-run, internal and international migration flows, city-growth and urban dynamism in the context of climate change related hazards.

WWS594R Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term) - Behavioral Science in Environmental Policy (Core)

Elke U. Weber

Even though numerous influential reports call for earlier and better integration of behavioral science theory and insights into the policy process, the reality is that disciplines other than economics and the law have had little or no influence on the design or implementation of environmental or technology policy. We review reasons and consequences for this failure and examine paths towards better future integration

WWS350/Env350 The Environment: Science and Policy (ORC/*level)

Michael Oppenheimer and David S. Wilcove

This course examines the ways domestic US and international environmental regulatory frameworks adopt, interpret and otherwise accommodate scientific information. The course focuses on several case studies, that provide insights into the science-policy interactions which emerge from managing natural resources and environmental risk. Topics include air pollution; climate change; ozone depletion; managing the world's forests, fisheries, and ecosystem services, and global trade in wildlife. Students will explore the science underlying these issues as well as current policies and the range of future policy responses.

WWS 352 Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy (ORC/*level)

Edward W. Felten

This course surveys Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its policy implications. Technology topics include a history of the field; evolving conceptions of machine intelligence; and the current state of the technology. Policy topics include the economic effects of AI; regulatory policy; automated vehicles; autonomous aircraft; ensuring fairness, governance, and control; the role of AI in public decision making; national security implications, including autonomous weapons; cybersecurity; and the long-term future of AI. This course is suitable for students of all backgrounds; no technical knowledge is assumed.


Science and Global Security: From Nuclear Weapons to Cyberwarfare (ORC/*level)

This course provides students with a basic technical understanding of the science and technology relevant to current and emerging national and global security issues. Topics covered in this course include nuclear weapons and their proliferation, biotechnology and biosecurity, delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction, new media and big data, cyberwarfare, machine learning, autonomous weapons, and superintelligence. In the second half of the semester, students work in small teams on in-depth case studies exploring a current or emerging global-security issue of their choice and combining

WWS357 Cybersecurity Law, Technology and Policy (ORC/*level/* relevance to STEP)

Joel R. Reidenberg

This seminar will introduce students to the significant challenges that government, law enforcement and the private sector face in addressing cybersecurity risks. The seminar will focus on cyber threats that jeopardize national security as well as threats that have significant legal, economic and social consequences. Students will learn about US technological vulnerabilities, the existing legal and policy framework and the development of new policies to protect US interests including those for cyber-defenses and the protection of civil liberties.


Courses originating Outside the WWS

We list three (Science) courses as representative of the many such offerings throughout the university catalog from which a student can draw and propose for Certificate credit

AOS537/GEO537 Atmospheric Chemistry (Science)

Larry W. Horowitz

Natural gas phase and heterogeneous chemistry in the troposphere and stratosphere, with a focus on elementary chemical kinetics; photolysis processes; oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen chemistry; transport of atmospheric trace species; tropospheric hydrocarbon chemistry and stratospheric halogen chemistry; stratospheric ozone destruction; local and regional air pollution, and chemistry-climate interactions are studied.

GEO360/ENV356 Geochemistry of the Human Environment (Science)

John A. Higgins

Humans have profoundly altered the chemistry of Earth's air, water, and soil. This course explores these changes with an emphasis on the analytical techniques used to measure the human impact. Topics include the accumulation of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) in Earth's atmosphere and the contamination of drinking water at the tap and in the ground. Students will get hands on training in mass spectrometry and spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of air, water, and soil and will participate in an outreach project aimed at providing chemical analyses of urban tap waters to residents of Trenton, NJ.

CEE311/CHM311/GEO311/ENE311 Global Air Pollution (Science)

Mark A. Zondlo

Students will study the chemical and physical processes involved in the sources, transformation, transport, and sinks of air pollutants on local to global scales. Societal problems such as photochemical smog, particulate matter, greenhouse gases, and stratospheric ozone depletion will be investigated using fundamental concepts in chemistry, physics, and engineering. For the class project, students will select a trace gas species or family of gases and analyze recent field and remote sensing data based upon material covered in the course. Environments to be studied include very clean, remote portions of the globe to urban air quality.

ARC492/URB492/ENV492 Topics in the Formal Analysis of the Urban Structure - Environmental Challenges of Urban Sprawl (ORC/*level/*relevance to STEP)

Mario I. Gandelsonas


As part of the search for solutions to climate, water and energy challenges in a rapidly urbanizing world, it is crucial to understand and reassess the role of exurban sprawl in the environment. This interdisciplinary course aims to add theoretical, pragmatic and cultural dimensions to scientific, technological, and policy aspects of current environmental challenges, in an effort to bridge the environmental sciences, urbanism and the humanities


ART250/ARC250/Env250 Architecture, Globalization, and the Environment (ORC/*level/*relevance to STEP

Esther Roseli da Costa Azevedo Meyer

This course analyzes contemporary architecture and its relation to climate change, urbanism, and consequent social problems. Special attention will be paid to the erosion of public space, whether due to gentrification, gated communities, outright segregation, or to the devastating impact of war in urban zones in many parts of the world. We will study issues of sustainability, as well as climate justice and environmental racism. Architecture's complicities with regard to global warming and its squandering of fossil fuels are central to our approach.


CBE335 / MAE338 / ENV335 / ENE335 The Energy Water Nexus (ORC/*level)

Eric D. Larson

Students will gain an awareness of inter-linkages between water and energy, challenges to sustainable water and energy, and technologies and strategies for addressing these. Energy-water design trade-offs will be investigated for various energy and water processing facilities, e.g., electric power and desalination plants, and student teams will undertake design/simulation projects. Lectures will include a review of tools for lifecycle environmental and economic analysis, and discussion of contemporary issues where the energy-water nexus plays a critical role.

CEE599 Special Topics in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources - The Physical, Chemical, and Ecological Implications of Urbanization (ORC/*relevance to STEP)

Elie R. Bou-Zeid

This course is a mixture of lectures, readings, individual student work focused on urban challenges in the 21st century, particularly the ones related to energy, water and climate. The course is a mixture of lectures where the instructor introduces mathematical and physical laws and concepts that are fundamental to urban science, and of literature review where the whole class reads a paper and then one student summarizes that paper and leads a discussion about it in class. The students then perform a final individual research project on a topic of their interest, with the aim of advancing the current state of the science.

EEB380 Ecology and Conservation of African Landscapes (ORC/*level/*relevance to STEP)

Paula G. Kahumbu Robert M. Pringle


Only six percent of Africa's land area (containing a fraction of its biodiversity) is protected, and these areas are rarely large enough to sustain wildlife populations. Mostly, wildlife must share land with people also facing survival challenges. This course will explore how wildlife and people interact in Kenya, where new approaches to conservation are being developed. Lectures will cover the ecology of tropical grasslands and first principles underlying conservation and management of these landscapes. Field trips and projects will examine the dynamics between human actions and biodiversity conservation.


ENG 384 / ENV 383 Environmental Justice Through Literature and Film (ORC/*level/*relevance to STEP)

Robert Nixon

How can literature and film bring to life ideals of environmental justice and the lived experience of environmental injustice? This seminar will explore how diverse communities across the globe are unequally exposed to risks like climate change and toxicity and how communities have unequal access to the resources vital to sustaining life. Issues we will address include: climate justice, the Anthropocene, water security, deforestation, the commons, indigenous movements, the environmentalism of the poor, the gendered and racial dimensions of environmental justice, and the imaginative role of film makers and writer-activists.

ENV316 Climate Science and Communications (ORC/*level)

Michael D. Lemonick Flora Lichtman

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.


MAE 328 / EGR 328 / ENV 328 / ENE 328 Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World (ORC/*level)

Julia Mikhailova

This course will overview energy technologies for sustainable development. Physics of greenhouse effect and projected climate changes are reviewed. Majority of lectures focus on understanding principles and design of sustainable, green, and renewable energy conversion systems, including solar photoelectric, thermal, wind, biomass, and nuclear energies, as well as capture and storage of fossil-fuel carbon. Energy storage and efficient energy use are also considered. Intersections of energy with economic development, local environmental quality, and human behavior are touched upon.

SOC 337 / ENV 336 Environment and Migration (ORC/*level/*relevance to STEP)

Sara E. Lopus

Environmental refugees leave their homes in response to earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, toxins, dams, and deforestation. Risk-mitigating farming households preemptively send family to seek jobs elsewhere, protecting against possible crop failure. In much of the world, households participate in cyclical or temporary migratory flows, driven by seasonality of the food supply. Students will become familiar with the manners in which environment drives migration and explore the potential for migration to impact the environment. Is vulnerability to environmental hazards distributed equitably across the world's communities?