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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Gwen Ottinger
BPOLST 583
Bothell Campus

Issues in Environmental Policy

Analyzes current policy issues in the complex and every changing arena of environmental policy.

Class description

Environmental Justice and Neoliberalism

Environmental policy has shifted away from government-driven “command-and-control” regulatory strategies to market-based and collaborative approaches to environmental protection. In the process, corporations have become participants in, and not just subjects of, environmental regulation. This “neoliberal” turn in environmental governance is justified on the grounds of efficiency. But what are its implications for equity? Environmental problems have disproportionate impacts on people of color, the poor, and other marginalized groups, and these heavily burdened groups tend to be the least well protected by environmental laws. Does the changing nature of corporate involvement in environmental policy help address these environmental injustices or simply exacerbate them? We will take up these questions, with special attention to how neoliberal approaches affect two aspects of justice: the distribution of environmental burdens and economic benefits, and people’s ability to participate meaningfully in the decisions that most affect their environment.

Student learning goals

Explain environmental injustice and the social structural factors that contribute to it

Explain neoliberalism and the sorts of policies that arise from it

Discuss the implications of neoliberal policy for distributive and procedural justice

Identify questions for research that would further clarify how neoliberal policy approaches ameliorate or exacerbate environmental injustice and/or help identify policy measures that could promote environmental justice within a neoliberal regulatory environment.

General method of instruction

Pre-class readings, seminar and online discussion.

Recommended preparation

Graduate status or successful completion of BIS 307

Class assignments and grading

Readings (up to 200p/wk) In-class and online participation Leading class discussion Weekly reflection papers Term paper (including drafts and peer critiques)


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.
Last Update by Gwen Ottinger
Date: 02/12/2014