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Environmental Economics




Admissions requirements

Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Economics or instructor’s permission


Content: This 300-level course focuses on our environment(s), which function as common pool goods affected by the positive or negative externalities resulting from private behavior. Although ``the environment'' is often defined as nature (e.g., land, water, air), it is more broadly defined to include the shared spaces (e.g., markets, classrooms, websites, electromagnetic spectrum) affected by --- and that affect --- private actions. We will examine positive and negative impacts on environments, evaluate the magnitude of those impacts, and discuss different methods of managing or protecting environments (e.g., Pigou versus Coase versus Ostrom).

Students with a pre-requisite in microeconomics will be able to apply and extend their knowledge in this class by assessing the incentives for behaviors and distribution of costs and benefits from policies. Examples include polluter pays, discounting, and mis-matched political-economic jurisdictions. Students with macroeconomic or trade pre-requisites will be able to apply their knowledge to the aggregated dimensions of environmental impacts and how policies alter the market landscape within and among countries. Examples include pollution havens, and intergenerational equity, and environmental Kuznets curve.

Themes: Sustainability, public (social) goods vs. private (market) goods, governance,. Externalities, and discount rates.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students will:

  • Be able to explain the benefits and challenges of sustainability from an economic and political perspective.

  • Have a working knowledge of cost-benefit analysis, discount rates, and the impact of distribution on policy design and implementation.

  • Have mastered, presented and written up an environmental case study that explores the drivers, costs, benefits, and barriers to addressing an environmental issue of their choice

  • Have skills in critical assessment of environmental issues, case studies and policy documents.

  • Have experience in applying 200-level methods to their projects: e.g., Quantitative Research Methods, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Modelling, Game Theory and/or Decision Making Processes


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take the lead on individual presentations/take part in group projects. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for its quality. Required reading must be read in advance of class.


Class participation: 17.5%
Blog post: 10%
Peer reviews: 10% each (20% total)
Individual Presentation: 17.5%
Case study paper: 35%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Dolan, Edward (2011). There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. London: Searching Finance.

Miscellaneous academic papers


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


David Zetland (
Leiden University College, Room 4.37


Blogs are great for learning about economics. Check out “Marginal Revolution”: or “Environmental Economics”: