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STEP Courses: 2008-2009

585a: Topics in STEP: Biotechnology Policy (also MOL 586) Fall
Lee Silver

Syllabus
This course provides in-depth analysis of selected topics in biotechnology that are currently the focus of intense debate in the public and policy arenas. Topics include genetic modification of plants and animals, genetic testing in human populations, stem cells, cloning, and advanced reproductive technologies. Each topic is examined from the perspective of potential commercial applications, risk/benefit analysis, impact on individuals and society, the viewpoints of supporters and detractors, and the political response in the U.S. and other countries.

585b: Topics in STEP: Living in a Greenhouse (also MAE580) Fall
Robert Socolow

Syllabus
This course will focus primarily on the challenge of modifying the global energy system to reduce projected carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. We will pursue both science/technology and policy in each of five two-week units: 1) The underlying carbon cycle science, and the ways the world has organized to learn more and to communicate results; 2) Energy efficiency, patterns of demand, lifestyles, energy and poverty; 3) Fossil fuels, abundance and depletion, energy security; 4) Carbon capture and storage, policies enabling commercialization, risk assessment; 5) Non-carbon energy in its two forms, nuclear power and renewable energy; subsidies, social preferences. The final two-weeks will be devoted to student reports. Cross-cutting themes include uncertain science, imperfectly discernible costs of future technologies, the limitations of quantification, and the necessity of muddling through.

591e Policy Workshop: Integrating Clean Air & Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategies(Fall)
Denise Mauzerall

Climate change will have increasingly undesirable effects globally in our lifetimes.  Air pollution has adverse impacts on public health, agricultural yields and ecosystems on a local, regional and hemispheric scale. Black carbon is an air pollutant with detrimental effects on human health and it also contributes significantly to climate warming. The workshop will attempt to develop creative yet realistic, well-reasoned and supported policy recommendations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to facilitate domestic and international mitigation of black carbon emissions under unified air quality and climate initiatives.

582e: Topics in Econ: Energy Economics - Spring
Amy 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. In addition to lectures on the economics of each of these subtopics, we will discuss current policy options.

572c Environment and Development - Spring
Smitu Kothari

WWS 586d/Topics in Science Technology and Environmental Policy: Global Environmental Governance
Michael Oppenheimer (Spring, 2009)

Examines international law and governance in the context of environmental problems, given the great variety of domestic approaches among nations, and the resulting challenge to global trade and regulatory regimes. Considers the need for regulation under conditions of scientific uncertainty in issues such as climate change, bovine growth hormones, GMOs, fisheries management, biodiversity conservation, and ozone depletion. Explores the efficacy of diverse regulatory approaches, mechanisms for scientific advice to policy makers and participation by business firms and NGOs. Considers intersections between environmental regulation (both domestic and international) with trade, investment, and multilateral development and aid programs. Class location alternates between NYU and WWS.
WWS 586f Topics in STEP: Politics of Science and Environmental Policy

WWS 586f/CO 598e Topics in STEP: Information Technology and Public Policy
Ed Felten (Spring 2009)

Information technology plays an ever-growing role in our lives, our economy, and our government, putting pressure on existing policy arrangements and raising entirely new policy issues. This course will examine 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.

594c: Policy Analysis: Agricultural Development and Biotechnology (Session I)
S. Shantharam

The world is facing an unprecedented agricultural crisis and a looming food security disaster. In order to achieve sustainable agricultural development and to protect the environment, the world needs the best science and technologies that are available. Genetically Modified (GM) crops have been successfully grown for over a decade now. However, controversies surrounding safety, environmental impacts, and other socio-economic issues such as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and affordability have created real policy dilemmas. This course will provide factual, empirical and evidence based knowledge and information on agbiotech policy issues. Some of the issues to be covered include: crop biotechnology and transgenesis; evolution and role of regulatory policies in biotechnology development; and policy instruments to address basic biosafety and environmental issues of GM crops.

WWS316 Health and the Environment Fall/SA
Burt Singer

Explores population history and its relationship to health; ecology, economics, and health; ecosystem dynamics; drought, famine, and health; psychosocial environments and physiology; well being and positive health; and social stratification and morbidity.

WWS320 Human Genetics, Reproduction, and Public Policy (also MOL 320) Spring/SA
Lee M. Silver

Advances in genetic and reproductive technologies will soon allow us to perform rapid, complete genetic screens on individuals and cells and, ultimately, to direct our own evolution as a species. The science behind genetic screening, therapy and enhancement, as well as cloning and the manipulation of human embryos will be presented along with an analysis of anticipated uses by individuals and corporations. The impact of these revolutionary technologies on society as a whole will be discussed, along with approaches to policymaking.

WWS454 "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and International Security/SA (Fall)
Christopher Chyba

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 dissuasion, deterrence, defense, preventive war, preemption, arms control, nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and terrorism. Discussions will be rooted, where appropriate, in international relations theory.