ENVS 0211 – Fall 2022

Our goal in this class is to try to make sense of what often seems senseless: environmental policy in the United States and around the world. And with the recent signing of the Inflation Reduction Act–not to mention another calamitous summer–our course could not be more timely.

In theory, desirable outcomes in this realm are straightforward: conserving natural resources while permitting some resource extraction; finding the right balance between environmental protection and the costs of such protection. In practice, reaching these outcomes is often unbearably challenging. In fact, it is tempting to throw up one’s hands and say: “In the 21st Century, it’s impossible to conserve and protect the environment!”

When we complete our course in three months, I hope that you will disagree with this proclamation. By learning about the inner workings of environmental policy and by studying historic and contemporary cases, I hope that you will become convinced that both conservation and environmental protection are possible–even if modern conditions create formidable challenges.

I have a longer-term goal. Several years from now, when you return to Middlebury (hopefully you will do this often!), I want to hear your story, your own narrative about how you decided to lead a life of meaning. Within your narrative, I hope to hear about your efforts to effect positive change, in part by building on the analytical and reflective skills that you learned in this class.

You will work hard in this class: we have a lot to do.  I look forward to working together.

Class meetings: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 – 10:45. Hillcrest 103 (The Orchard)

Class discussions: Friday in LaForce 121:

  • 10:10 – 11:00 (section x)
  • 11:15 – 12:05 (section y)
  • 12:30 – 1:20 (section z)

Professor Jon Isham

Office Hours in Warner 16:
Tuesdays 11:00 – 12:30 and Wednesdays 2:00 – 3:30
and by appointment