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STEP Courses: 2009-2010

Eco 429: Issues in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (Spring)
Smita Brunnermeier

This course uses the tools of economics to understand both the sources of, and the remedies to environmental and resource allocation problems. The course will emphasize the reoccurrence of economic phenomenon like public goods, externalities, market failure, inter-temporal optimization, and imperfect information. In addition, students will 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. These concepts will be illustrated in a variety of applications ranging from the domestic pollution of air, water, and land to international issues such as global warming, and sustainable development.

EEB 533: Topics in Ecology: The Science and Policy of Conserving Ecosystem Services (Fall)
David Wilcove

Ecosystem services—the free goods and services provided by nature, including such things as flood control, carbon storage, and clean water—have become an increasingly important part of conservation efforts and environmental policy around the world. Many international conservation organizations and government agencies are now emphasizing the protection of ecosystem services in their programs and policies. Advocates of ecosystem services argue that by focusing on the aspects of biodiversity that are directly important to human welfare, they are able to gain the support of many more people and to produce more durable conservation victories. However, this raises a number of challenging scientific and policy issues: Which ecosystem services are to be conserved and where? Does a focus on ecosystem services adequately protect other components of biodiversity, such as endangered species or natural ecosystems? How does the protection of ecosystem services mesh with other, well-established conservation goals, such as the protection of biodiversity hotspots? We will examine how conservation organizations and governments are addressing these and other issues related to ecosystem services, with a focus on real-world examples. Students will participate in a group project leading to a publishable paper on the topic.

WWS556d Topics in IR: Protection Against Weapons of Mass Destruction (Spring)
Frank Von Hippel 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the only significant security threats to the U.S. and its allies have been from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Historically, the US focus has oscillated between protection via nonproliferation and disarmament agreements, and via civil and missile defense. The course assesses the threats, both approaches to protection, and linkages made between policies on WMD and perceptions of "conventional" military threats.

WWS 581c: Topics in Econ: Energy Economics (Fall)
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.

WWS 584: The Use of Science In Public Policy  (Spring)
Lee Silver, Denise Mauzerall, Frank von Hippel

This course is designed to improve students' skill, confidence and judgment in use of science in policy applications. Using case studies, real-world examples, and in-class exercises, the emphasis is on preparing both non-scientists and scientists to use, understand, and critique science in environmental policy applications. Exercises and exams are scaled to the students’ background

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

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. Assignments will consist of weekly reading, weekly writing assignments, and a final project. This course is suitable for students without any special technical background

WWS 591a: Policy Workshop: Greening Newark
David Kinsey


WWS 591f: Policy Workshop: Achieving Total Nuclear Disarmament  
Frank von Hippel

WWS 594o : Policy Analysis (half term):  Nuclear Energy ( Spring)
Alex Glaser

WWS 594p: Policy Analysis (half term) Energy Environment and Development (Spring)

WWS 320 Human Genetics, Reproduction, and Public Policy (Spring)
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.

WWS 454  Special Topics in Public Affairs : Weapons of Mass Destruction and International Security
Christopher F. 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.