Climate change is one of the world’s most critical challenges, and though quite prominent in today’s news it remains a complex and multifaceted issue. What is the current understanding of the anthropogenic impacts on global climate, ecosystems, and biodiversity? How are different economic sectors, geographic regions, and countries contributing to this? How are these impacts predicted to affect future global economic growth prospects, agricultural productivity, poverty, and society at large? Who bears the potential costs and benefits? What can be done?
Using climate change as a unifying focus, this course examines the role of public policy in managing human impacts on the environment. Students are introduced to the theories and concepts of environmental economics, and using these they explore, discuss, and analyze current national and global environmental challenges. They learn the public policy approaches being used to address these challenges, and how these policies influence and interact with the role of the private sector and international frameworks such as the Paris Agreement.
Through coursework and case studies from both the developing and developed world, students gain an understanding of the complex nature of global environmental change and the importance of human-based activities in driving it. Case studies lead to the introduction of sector-based issues (e.g. promoting renewable energy and organic agriculture), innovative policy approaches (e.g. environmental trading schemes, mitigation banking, carbon taxes), and key terms used by the global conservation community to frame and promote discussion of these issues (e.g. ecosystem services, natural capital, water-energy-food nexus).
Coursework includes lectures, required reading, multimedia presentations, online research, and guest speakers. Students are expected and encouraged to participate in class discussions, raise questions, and contribute to small group exercises and presentations.
Michael T. Bennett holds a PhD in environmental and resource economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is an expert in market-based environmental policy instruments, with over fifteen years’ experience developing inclusive and sustainable conservation finance approaches and knowledge sharing platforms. He has worked with a range of organizations across the conservation and development space, including World Bank Group, Asian Development Bank, Paulson Institute, Forest Trends, The Center for International Forestry Research, Stanford University’s Natural Capital Project, The International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, various United Nations programs (UNDP, UNEP, FAO), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Michael teaches microeconomics, macroeconomics, public finance, money and banking, and comparative economic systems as an adjunct lecturer at Kean University’s Economics Program. His current work includes collaboration with the Asian Development Bank and Paulson Institute to provide policy and analytical support to the Chinese government in its ongoing development and refinement of ecological conservation policies and investments.