Princeton University

Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) Program

Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Graduate Program

Fall, 1999

Methods in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy


Monday 7:00 – 10:00 PM

Room 13, Robertson Hall


Professor Denise L. Mauzerall

Five Ivy Lane, Room 201

Office Hours: Mon. 1:30-3:00

Tues. 1:30-3:00

258-2498 (phone) (e-mail)


Overview: This course presents a set of basic theories, methods and tools for use in the analysis of policy issues involving science, technology and the environment. Topics include: order-of-magnitude estimation; risk assessment and risk communication; uncertainty analysis; evaluation of air, land and water pollution and industrial ecology. The goal of the course is to develop a theoretical and operational understanding of these techniques through a combination of lectures, exercises, and the examination of a diverse set of real-world case studies. The course will culminate with the in-depth analysis of a particular real-world environmental problem. The student should leave the course with an increased understanding of how technical information can be used to inform policy decisions and the confidence to do so.

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable with mathematics and statistics at the level of WWS 507. In addition, some exposure to basic chemistry would be useful. Students should have some familiarity with microcomputer tools, including spreadsheets and graphical packages. Familiarity is all that is required, however. The tools necessary for policy analysis of the technical issues covered in the course will be taught as needed in a tutorial fashion.

Course format: There will be one three-hour meeting per week divided, very roughly, between a lecture on the weeks topic, a discussion or debate, and a practical session devoted to instruction in the tools needed to solve the weekly exercises.

Requirements: Grades will be based on weekly problem sets (60%), in-class presentations (10%), and work on the class research project (30%). The homework assignments will consist of short, quantitative, sometimes microcomputer based, applications of course methods to specific case studies. In 1997 the class project, to explore the health, ecological, and economic impacts of a waste incinerator proposed for Mercer County, New Jersey, was presented to the New Jersey legislature.

Weekly problem sets will be due the week after assigned.

Presentations of class report: Monday, January 10 (reading period)

Final class report due: Monday, January 10 (reading period)



Course Preceptor: Yesim Tozan

Office: 200d Five Ivy Lane

Office Hours: Mon. 3-4:30

Thurs. 1:30-3:00

Tel: 258-2294



Major Course Topics

Throughout the course air, land, and water pollution and industrial ecology (the concept by which the interactions between human activities and the environment are systematically analyzed) will be examined. Simple models will be constructed and analyzed in order to understand the flow and transformation of materials while risks due to exposure to various pollutants in a variety of media will be evaluated. The use of these tools will culminate in a course project where the class will apply the methods they have learned to research and write a report on a current environmental problem where they provide a rigorous technical analysis to support specific policy recommendations.

MODELING: This module introduces a set of widely applicable modeling tools, starting from "back-of-the-envelope" and order-of –magnitude estimation, and from there developing steady-state, computer-spreadsheet, and stock and flow models. Emphasis will be placed both on constructing and evaluating models, and on their use and misuse in the policy process. Modeling exercises will be oriented around environmental problems with background on air, water and land pollution provided in lectures.

The computer modeling exercises will primarily use the STELLA II and Crystal Ball software packages that are installed on the computers in Robertson 14 and 15 and can be purchased.

RISK ASSESSMENT: Science and technology decision making routinely involves uncertainty and the evaluation of hazards. This module introduces a set of risk assessment tools commonly employed in public health, environmental, military and industrial applications. We will examine probabilistic and exposure assessment methods. We will also explore the critical step of risk prioritization and communication, both as a tool for ‘public interest science’ and as it is utilized to legitimize/evaluate/inform political decisions.






Required Texts:

Ford, Andrew. Modeling the Environment, An Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling of Environmental Systems, Island Press, 1999.

Graedel, T. E., Crutzen, P.J. Atmosphere, Climate and Change, Scientific American Library, New York, 1997.

Gratt, Lawrence B. Air Toxic Risk Assessment and Management, van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996.

Harte, John. Consider a Spherical Cow: A Course in Environmental Problem Solving, University Science Books, 1988.

Meadows, D.H., Meadows, D. L., Randers, J. Beyond the Limits, Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 1992.

Glickman, T.S., Gough, M. (eds.) Readings in Risk, Resources for the Future, Baltimore, MD, 1990.



Recommended Texts:

Kammen, D. M., Hassenzahl, D. M. Should We Risk It? Exploring Environmental, Health, and Technological Problem Solving, Princeton University Press, 1999.

High Performance Systems, STELLA II: Introduction to Systems Thinking, High Performance Systems, Hanover, NH, 1992.








Schedule of Classes


Week 1: September 21. Introduction and Overview.


Course overview. Methods used in decision-making involving science, technology and the environment. Introduction to basic science of air and water pollution.


Survey of order-of-magnitude and "back-of-the-envelope" estimation techniques.

Discussion of possible course projects.


Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D.L. and Randers, J. (1992) Beyond the limits, chapters 1 and 2, p. 1-43.

Ford, Andrew (1999) Modeling the Environment, Chapter 1, Overview, p. 3-13

Harte, J. (1985) Consider a spherical cow: a course in environmental problem solving, Chapter 1, p. 1-20.



Week 2. September 27. Modeling I.


Box models, steady-state and non- steady-state models, stocks and flows.

Applications to air pollution.


STELLA introduction, tutorial and modeling session.


Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D.L. and Randers, J. (1992) Beyond the limits, chapters 3 and 4, p. 44-140.

Harte, J. (1985) Consider a spherical cow, pp. 21-44, 111 – 116.

Ford, A. (1999), Modeling the Environment, Chapter 2, pp. 14-20; Chapter 3, pp.25-31.

Use as a reference (available in computer clusters at the WWS):

High Performance Systems (1992), STELLA II: Introduction to Systems Thinking (High Performance Systems, Hanover, NH, chapters 1-6 (pp. 1 – 102)





Week 3. October 4. Air Pollution


Air pollution resulting from fossil fuel combustion - aerosols, acid rain, smog.


Modeling applications for air pollution.


Graedel, T. E., Crutzen, P.J. (1997) Atmosphere, Climate and Change,

Chapter 3 "Chemistry in the Air", pp.34-57.

Chapter 5 "Changing Chemistry", pp. 89-111

Chapter 6 "Predicting the Near Future", pp.113-140.



Week 4. October 11. Modeling II


General approaches and simple dynamics: methods to characterize dynamical systems, stability and feedback loops. Complex models are becoming commonplace in a diverse range of technical and non-technical policy areas. To what extent are these models useful, and to what degree do they obscure the important dynamics of the situation?


Testing the stability and utility of global change forecast models. Introduction to the World3 model.

Bottom-up and top-down approaches to modeling and estimating growth. Comparing the strengths and weaknesses of "top-down" (readings: Meadows, Meadows, and Randers) and "bottom-up" (reading: OTA) approaches to energy consumption forecasts.


Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D.L. and Randers, J. (1992) Beyond the limits, chapters 4-7, pp. 104-217; Appendix pp. 237-253.

U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment (1991) Changing by degrees: steps to reduce greenhouse gases, OTA-O-482 (U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington D.C. [Examine for the construction of scenarios, estimates, and models: do not read cover to cover!]. Report is available on the web at:


For current greenhouse gas emissions models and forecasts, see:

Subject WWW Site

IPCC Scientific, Technical and Policy Assessments

TRENDS: CO2 emissions by country and region

Global Change reports and links


Week 5. October 18. Water Pollution.


Introduction to surface and ground-water contamination.


Refinement of course project.


Bedient, P. B., Rifai, H. S. , Newell, C. J., Ground Water Contamination, 1994,

Chapter 1, Introduction to ground water contamination, pp. 1-10.

Chapter 4, Sources and types of ground water contamination, pp. 64-90.



Week 6. October 25. Waste Disposal / Landfills / Toxic Waste


Waste disposal of municipal, industrial and hazardous solid wastes.

Toxic disposal. How safe is safe enough?

Guest Speaker: Dr. Robert Harriss, Director, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO.


Scrudata, R. J., Pagano, J. J. Landfill Leachates and Groundwater Contamination in Groundwater Contamination and Control, Zoller, Uri (ed.), Marcel Dekker, New York, 1994, pp. 169-187.



Week 7. November 8. Risk Assessment I


Methods in quantifying risk.


Please read the following articles in:

Glickman, T. S., Gough, M. (eds.) Readings in Risk,

Morgan, Granger Probing the Question of Technology-Induced Risk, p.5-16.

Morgan, Granger, Choosing and Managing Technology-Induced Risk, p. 17-29.

Fischhoff, B., C. Hope, S. R. Watson, Defining Risk, p. 30-41.

Pimentel, D. et al. (1993) "Assessment of environmental and economic impacts of pesticide use", in The pesticide question: environment, economics, and ethics, Pimentel, D. and Lehman, H (eds), pp. 47-84.




Week 8. November 15. Risk Assessment II


Estimating exposure, dose and response to toxins.


Workshop session #1 for class project.


Gratt, L. B. Air Toxic Risk Assessment and Management,

Chapter 3, Source Terms – Emission of Air Toxics, pp.40-67.

Chapter 5, Exposure, pp.109-148

Chapter 6, Dose-Response, Epidemiology, and Pharmacokinetics pp. 153-211



Week 9. November 22, Risk Assessment III


Risk/benefit analysis and cost/benefit analysis


Crystal Ball and Monte Carlo laboratory Session


Hall, J. V., et al. Valuing the Health Benefits of Clean Air, Science, vol. 255, pp. 812-816, 1992.

Vose, D. Monte Carlo Risk Analysis Modeling, in Fundamentals of Risk Analysis and Risk Management, Lewis Publishers, 1996.

Please read the following articles in:

Glickman, T. S., Gough, M. (eds.) Readings in Risk,

Kelman, S. Cost-benefit analysis: an ethical critique, pp. 129-137.

Rasmussen, N. C. The application of probabilistic risk assessment techniques to energy technologies, pp. 195-205

Keeney, R.L., Kulkarni, R. B., Keshavan, N. Assessing the risk of an LNG terminal, pp. 207-217.



Week 10. November 29, Risk Assessment IV

Theory: Risk communication and risk policy

Practical: The case of Alar: from science to 60 Minutes


Please read the following articles in:

Glickman, T. S., Gough, M. (eds.) Readings in Risk,

Plough, A., Krimsky, S. The emergence of risk communication studies: social and political context, pp. 223-231.

Sandman, P. M. Getting to Maybe: Some communications aspects of siting hazardous waste facilities, pp. 233- 245.



Week 11. December 6, Class Project Workshop

Course packet on the selected class project will be passed out.

Group initial findings will be distributed and discussed.



Week 12. December 13, Industrial Ecology

Theory: Product flows and material management

Practical: Class project workshop session #2.


From Industrial Ecology and Global Change (1994):

Socolow, R. Six perspectives from Industrial Ecology, pp. 3- 16.

Graedel, T. Industrial ecology: definition and implementation, pp. 23-41.

Thomas, V. , Spiro, T. Emissions and exposure to metals: cadmium and lead, pp. 297- 318.

Graedel, T., Horkeby, I., Norberg-Bohm, V., Prioritizing Impacts in Industrial Ecology, pp. 359-370.



January 10 (reading period).

Presentation of class project.