Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

David Watkins
POL S 383
Seattle Campus

Environmental Politics and Policy in the United States

Interrelation between technological and environmental change and policy formation. Consideration of political behavior related to these phenomena and the capacity of urban public organizations to predict change and to formulate policies that can take future states into account.

Class description

Description. This is a course on contemporary environmental politics in the U.S., but we will also examine the history of the environmental movement and environmental legislation and some international and global aspects of environmental politics. The first part of the course will cover the history of the environmental movement, and its accomplishments and failures. Much of this section will focus on the following questions: What are the causes of the environmental crisis? Does it make sense to talk about the (singular) environmental movement, or are there distinct environmental movements (plural)? How are ‘environment’ and ‘nature’ defined, and how does that shape the environmental movement? The second part of the course will look at contemporary environmental policy in the U.S. Primary questions addressed in this section will include: Does environmental policy deal with all major environmental issues? If not, what is missing? How successful has environmental policy been? How could it be more successful? Whose interests does environmental policy serve? The final part of the course will look at specific environmental issues, problems and incidents. These will range from the local (such as Makah whaling) to the global (such as global warming). A primary questions in this part of the course will revolve around the appropriate arena for environmental politics and decision making: Is the nation-state the appropriate venue for environmental politics? If not, should we focus on more regional or more global solutions, or both?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

There are no pre-requisites for this course, and it will be suitable to all those interested in environmental problems and the search for solutions.

Recommended preparation

Texts. There are four required texts for this course: John Dryzek and David Schlosberg’s Debating the Earth: An Environmental Politics Reader, Michael Kraft and Norman Vig’s Environmental Policy: New Directions for the 21st Century, Robert Gottlieb’s Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement, and Robert Sullivan’s A Whale Hunt: Two Years on the Olympic Peninsula with the Makah and their Canoe. In addition to these four texts, there will four optional books available at the bookstore. Every student will be required to write a detailed book review of one of the optional books of the student’s choosing.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments/Grading. There will be five contributing factors to your grade: Two response papers (questions handed out in class 7-10 days before the due dates), a book review, an in-class final exam, and class participation and discussion. Each of these will be worth 20% of your final grade.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 02/13/2002