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Environmental Economics




Admissions requirements

Environmental Policy or Life Cycle Assessment, or the instructor's permission.

Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and/or International Economics are recommended.


Content: This 300-level course focuses on our environment(s), which function as public goods in providing benefits but can be affected by the positive or negative externalities resulting from private and public behavior. Although "the environment" is often defined as the natural environment (e.g., land, water, air, climate, biodiversity), it is more broadly defined here to include social and economic environments. Examples are shared spaces such as markets, classrooms, websites and electromagnetic spectrum where everyone gains from without necessarily paying for. We will explore the value of environments, discuss how actions produce positive and negative impacts on environments, evaluate the magnitude of those impacts, and discuss different theories for managing and methods of protecting environments in the traditions of Pigou, Coase and Ostrom. The main example for the natural environment is global warming, both in terms of policies and measures to prevent global warming emissions, as mitigation, and in taking adjusting actions to climate change, as adaptation.

A knowledge of microeconomics is useful but not essential to this class (basic concepts will be reviewed and taught). Among other ideas, students will learn about assessing the incentives for behaviors and distribution of costs and benefits from policies (e.g., polluter pays, discounting, and mis-matched political-economic jurisdictions) as well as how aggregated environmental impacts and policies alter the market landscape within and among countries (e.g., pollution havens, and intergenerational equity, and environmental Kuznets curve).
Students will apply these ideas to a course paper on the topic of their choice that will use a cost-benefit analysis of market and non-market values to explore the existing distribution of costs and benefits as well as policy proposals that might move the distribution (and overall impact) of those polices closer to sustainability.

Themes: Sustainability; public (social) goods vs. private (market) goods; externalities; discount rates; distribution; inequality.

Course objectives


  • 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 this 300-level course projects: e.g., Quantitative Research Methods, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Modelling, Game Theory and/or Decision Making Processes


  • 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


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars twice week. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; take part in group projects; and produce a journal style paper. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for its quality.


Class participation: 15% (continuous weeks 1-7)
Blog post: 10% (due week 4)
Peer reviews: 2x10% (due week 5)
Climate change vision: 5% (due week 6)
Individual Presentation: 15% (due week 7/8)
Case study paper: 35% (due reading week)


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

A full reading list will be provided.

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


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


Dr. Gjalt Huppes (;