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University of Colorado Denver

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Environmental Coursework  

SPA Useful Links:

MPA Syllabi by Semester

Concentration Course Rotation Schedule 

Environmental subject areas include:

  • Environmental POlicy and Management
  • Climate Change
  • Urban Planning
  • Environmental Health & Natural Resource Management
  • Disastor Relief and Management
  • Green Criminology

List of Courses (partial list)

PAD5631 Seminar in Environmental Politics & Policy

The field of environmental policy has undergone substantial changes and innovations over the past 30 years. Across all levels of government, we have developed a diverse range of policy tools and institutions to help address the problems of environmental degradation and resource sustainability. These policies and institutions, and the processes that establish them, are by no means straightforward or simple. This course is designed to help students understand and compare the processes through which we design environmental policies and the types of policy tools available, such as markets, regulation, and voluntary programs, to address environmental dilemmas. The course also explores some of the key facets of implementing environmental policies, including the mechanisms for effective stakeholder communication, enforcement, monitoring, and adaptive management.

Example syllabi Fall 2010


PAD5633 Seminar in Natural Resource and Environmental Health Law

This seminar examine administrative law aspects of environmental policy implementation and enforcement, the role of courts in both stimulating and limiting statutory reform, and regulatory innovation. The focus will be on legal aspects of both natural resource allocation and management, and environmental protection. Students will also discuss alternatives to traditional processes for environmental dispute resolution

Example Syllabi Fall 2010


PAD5634/7634 Sustainable Urban Infrastructure: Theories of Change

Urban infrastructure establishes the flow for critical resources and services, such as water, energy and transportation, into and out of our growing urban regions of the world. How effectively and sustainably we manage these resources and services depend largely on the capacity of the users and managers of these systems to adapt and change in response to new demands, population growth and environmental dilemmas, such as climate change. The goal of this course is to understand theories that would explain processes of change among actors and institutions (e.g. formal and informal rules) that use, manage, or govern urban infrastructure can change these systems. Trying to understand and explain change requires an understanding of the relationships among an uncountable number of factors in a dynamic system with nested levels of interactions and uncertain inputs and outputs. Such complexity requires frameworks and theories to aid in description and explanation. In this course you will learn to apply several theoretical lenses for viewing change of among the individuals, infrastructure operators and  designers, and actors actively involved in shaping public policy.


PAD5650 Disaster & Emergency Management Policies

This lecture course examines policies for the management of hazards, emergencies, and disasters. The course will focus on emergency management principles and case studies of major disasters. The course will also examine the role of institutional processes, government organizations, and nongovernmental organizations in emergency management.

Example Syllabi Fall 2010


PAD6600 Wildlife Management Policy & Law

Americans have a unique relationship with wildlife and historically have taken an active interest in the management of the wildlife resource. The North American Model of Wildlife Management forms the foundation for the establishment of wildlife law and policy. This course will explore the development of the North American Model and the wildlife and land use laws developed since 1900. The North American Model has relied almost exclusively on hunters and anglers to fund wildlife management. We will explore the policy implications of sportsmen funding wildlife management and recent trends to broaden funding sources. The course will move through the foundations of federalism and the application of the concept to wildlife management. Students will explore the legal framework for regulating migratory species and the adoption of federal legislation like the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act. The course will also focus on Colorado and analyze the impact of the initiative process on wildlife management in the state. Finally, the course will focus on current threats to wildlife and wildlife habitat, including invasive species and energy development.

Example Syllabi Fall 2010


PAD6600/7600 Comparitive Western Law and Policy: Past, Present, and Future

Water law and policy in the western United States is entering a state of profound transition. Ever-increasing demands on a finite and diminishing resource, climate change, energy project development, and interstate compact demands are all challenging the ability of traditional water rights allocation and management systems to continue to function effectively. In this course, we will undertake the comparative study of water law and policy in a variety of western states (including Colorado), that have adopted a variety of approaches to meeting these challenges, as commonly constrained and influenced by federal law and federal water projects management. We will study the historical roots of water resource allocation systems, contemporary conflicts, and possible future solutions – emphasizing best practices in the areas of resiliency, proactive planning and rulemaking, and fair and efficient rule enforcement. The major work product of the course will be a research paper on a topic of each student’s own choosing. The legal research skills level acquired in this course qualifies it as meeting a research methods requirement in SPA’s Ph.D. program.

Example Syllabi Fall 2010


PAD6600 The Global Politics of Climate Change 

This course will begin by briefly exploring the scientific evidence for climate change. The bulk of the course will be spent studying the ways in which the international community has responded to uncertain information regarding climate change, with a particular focus on efforts toward transnational cooperation. We will examine the response to climate change on three analytical levels: the global system, individual countries, and sub-state units such as cities. Since international climate negotiations are currently underway, we will follow the news closely. Each student will choose one country to study in depth. Several guest speakers will address the class, adding diversity to our sources of information.

Example Syllabi 2009


PAD6600 Disasters, Climate Change and Health

Disasters of all types cause millions of casualties every year and affect the quality of people’s lives in multitudes of ways through disruption of critical infrastructure, economic systems, and social structures. Just understanding the variation in the distribution of death, injury and disease related to disasters is fundamental to reducing future loss, but other aspects of health are equally important to consider. Additionally, extreme weather-related disasters (hurricanes, drought, extreme heat, for example) are often associated with and/or cited as an outcome of climate change. Climate variations will likely change physical environments and shift exposures to natural hazard events and also alter the risk of infectious diseases. The primary purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of disasters, climate change, and health in order to improve understanding of these complex relationships emerging as an extremely relevant area of study.

Example Syllabi Fall 2010


PAD6600 Introduction to Sustainable Urban Infrastructure

Urban infrastructures refer to engineered systems that provide water, energy, information, sanitation and built environment services to more than half the world’s people living in cities today. Rapid diffusion of more sustainable infrastructures is being recognized as critical in achieving urban sustainability. In this foundation course at UCD’s Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Program, the class will learn how to: recognize elements of sustainable infrastructure design, evaluate alternative future infrastructures based on their expected contributions to sustainability, promote the diffusion of such sustainable infrastructures through urban planning, public policy and community engagement strategies. The focus will be on developing a uniform vocabulary on sustainable infrastructure across the disciplines of science & technology, architecture & planning, public policy & governance, and, health & behavioral sciences. Students will learn key concepts, principles/pathways and evaluation techniques in each of these four disciplines pertaining to sustainability, and bring them together in the context of promoting rapid diffusion of sustainable urban infrastructures in society.

PAD6600 Case Studies in Sustainable Transportation 

This is a new course offered by the Department of Civil Engineering for graduate students of diverse disciplines and upper level undergraduates. The course goals are to examine notable topics in transportation, explore methods of measuring transportation sustainability, and place these ideas into the context of cities both in the United States and abroad.

Example Syllabi Fall 2010


PAD6600 Public Lands Management

The management of public lands presents a unique public administration challenge. Numerous federal agencies administer the nation’s public lands, are bound to a vast array of laws and regulations, and are subjected to heated and conflicting demands by the public. This course will review the history of public lands in the U.S., explore the statutory and regulatory basis for governance of those lands, and seek to understand the nature of current controversies

Example Syllabi Fall 2010


PAD7600 Sustainable Urban Water Systems

To provide students with a working knowledge of sustainable urban water systems which are resilient, resource efficient and environment friendly. Students will learn about the various components of urban water and wastewater systems, including water resource management, treatment, transport and reuse, and how to evaluate, develop and design the various components in a sustainable manner
Example Syllabi Fall 2010 | 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | ph: 303.315.2089 | fax: 303.315.2229 | webmaster

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