First Year: Courses
First year courses
Science of Natural and Built Environments (EP)
This yearlong course explores environmental issues and debates, with emphasis on sustainability, systems analysis, and mass and energy transfer. Students examine the role of uncertainty and learn to interpret scientific research critically, then discuss translation of scientific knowledge into workable policies under conditions of incomplete information. Topics range from broad themes, such as biogeochemical cycling, toxicology and risk assessments, and life-cycle analysis, to detailed examinations of carbon cycling and sequestration, species- and genetic-level loss of biodiversity, and the role of simulation models in policy formulation. Students are expected to be familiar with basic chemical concepts and equations.
Environmental Law and Policy I and II (EP)
These courses bring out the dynamic and complex relationship among various factors-legal, political, cultural, and ethical-that influence the environmental policy-making process. The courses introduce students to the core concepts of environmental law, policy making, and environmental policy cycles that include defining the environmental problem, setting the environmental agenda, and presenting and implementing policy solutions. The making of environmental law and policy is shaped by the interplay of politics, interest groups, elected leaders, appointed judges, public opinion, and governmental institutions. Students examine responses to environmental changes that rely on legal and regulatory instruments, the courts, public hearings, and voluntary agreements. They also take into account the nature of state-federal relationships in developing and applying the law, as well as the role of technology, tension between private and public interests, and equity considerations. The courses explore international environmental regime development, conflict resolution, and transboundary citizen networks that influence global environmental decision making.
Environmental Economics and Natural Resource Economics (EP and CSP)
These courses cover the concepts and tools used by economists for environmental policy making; discussion focuses on issues such as air pollution, climate change, water quality, fisheries management, land use, and biodiversity loss. The goal is to understand how economists view environmental issues and solutions. These courses demonstrate why the market fails in the case of environmental issues and which economic instruments can correct market failures. All explorations are carried out rigorously, using well-established scientific and statistical tools.
Statistics and Econometrics (EP and CSP)
A solid understanding of the concepts in this course enables Bard CEP graduates to be intelligent and discerning consumers and analysts of the quantitative information they may come across in their careers. Before students arrive in August, they should have a firm grasp of descriptive statistics (such as mean, mode, median, range, standard deviation, and variance), and the rules of probability and probability distributions. The course builds upon these concepts to examine hypothesis testing, which allows credible conclusions to be drawn from given data. Other topics include research design, sampling, correlation, and regression analysis.
Geographic Information Systems (EP and CSP)
Students explore the various spatial analysis methods used by scientists, planners, and public policy makers to improve the understanding and management of our world. Students learn the fundamentals of modeling, data analysis, mapping, and conducting an environmental impact assessment using geospatial technologies. Practical exercises relate to themes studied throughout the year.
National Climate Seminar (CSP, optional for EP)
This twice-monthly colloquium engages top national and international climate scientists, political leaders, policy analysts, and decision makers in conversation about climate policy issues. The seminar, conducted via conference call, encompasses a national audience. Background reading is required. Students lead question-and-answer sessions with seminar speakers.
Climate Science (CSP)
This course begins with studies of Earth’s climate system and how it works across a range of scales of time and space. These include investigations of the circulations of the ocean and atmosphere and their dynamic interactions (e.g., ENSO, monsoons, NAO); of the carbon and other biogeochemical cycles; of radiation balance, the greenhouse effect, and other factors that force climate to change; and of feedbacks in the climate system. Students will further explore past climates and how they give us insight into our present predicament, 20th —21st century climate change and its effects, how climate may change in the future, and how to understand the risks imposed by this change.
Climate, Agriculture, and Ecosystems (CSP)
This course covers fundamental processes in ecosystems and agriculture, then investigates the interactions between these systems and climate, emphasizing the two-way relationship between climate and food, fiber and fuel production. The course emphasizes greenhouse gas emissions and the possible roles of ecosystems and agriculture in mitigating climate change via greenhouse gas uptake and surface albedo modifications. Students end the yearlong course with a firm understanding of both the theoretical foundations of agro-ecosystem-climate interactions and the applied policy context of carbon markets, offsets, and adaptation measures. Class lectures are complemented by field trips to experimental forests and farms.
Climate Law and Policy (CSP)
This course focuses on the legal, political, cultural, and ethical dimensions of the climate policy-making process. It provides an overview of basic concepts of environmental law, politics, and policy making, for a detailed analysis of U.S. and international climate law and policy. Students evaluate climate change responses that include incentive-based regulatory approaches (cap-and-trade and cap-and-dividend systems with offsets; carbon taxes), command and control approaches, direct promotion of clean technology through regulation and subsidy, and voluntary agreements. Students examine critical issues of monitoring and enforcement, climate equity, and climate federalism, as well as the relationships among local, state, federal, and international policy.
Climate Change Solutions (CSP)
This is an integrative, case-study course, focused on technology assessment and policy that carefully examines several promising technology solutions. Which technologies have the potential to become core climate solutions? What kind of policy can drive widespread adoption of these solutions? The goal is to understand the underlying science and engineering challenges, then evaluate the social and economic barriers that each proposed solution faces. Students design policy recommendations suitable for each technology. Examples may include solar technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, wind, energy efficiency of built environments, new vehicle technologies and mass transit solutions.
- Terra Preta to Commercial Product: Can we scale up Biochar?
- Private Land Conservation: A Primer and Climate Change Consequences
- Slow Water for Sustainable Development: Oaxaca
- Private Land Conservation: A Primer, and The Role of Agriculture
- Energy and Environment in Asia