McDaniel College Budapest 

Syllabus PSI 2215
PSI 2215 – Environmental Policy

Professor: Matthew Adamson

Contact information:

Availability: I am usually on campus in Room 226; please make an appointment if you want to be certain to find me

Course description

An investigation of the history, institutions, and decision-making processes that shape environmental policy in the United States and around the world. The semester is structured around individual student projects involving an environmental problem of your choice.

Required texts
  • John McNeill, Something New Under the Sun (Penguin Books, 2000).
  • PSI 2215 Class Reader
Assignments & grading

Grading system -- 100 points total
  • mid-term exam worth 12 points
  • final exam worth 13 points
  • a term paper worth 20 points
  • a term paper proposal worth 5 points
  • an outline/bibliography worth 5 points
  • a first rough draft worth 5 points
  • oral presentation worth 10 points
  • blog entries worth 15 points total
  • class participation, presentations, and associated assignments worth 20 points
Standard McDaniel College scale:
100+ A+
93-100 A
90-92 A-
88-89 B+
83-87 B
80-82 B-
78-79 C+
73-78 C
70-72 C-
68-69 D+
63-67 D
60-62 D-
< 60 F

Term Paper: A grant proposal

1 paper, 10 pages.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are in a generous mood, and they are all concerned about the environment. They are awarding forty million dollars for an environmental project, the G-B Environmental Action Grant. They are accepting proposals from anywhere—any country, any state, or any region of the world.

Your assignment here is to put together a proposal such that you gain the GBS Grant. Please consider the following.
  • You must identify an environmental crisis or concern in a region of your choosing—why does the problem merit forty million dollars' worth of attention and action?
  • You must consider what preliminary scientific, social and economic studies might be necessary to carry out an effective project.
  • You must consider options for solving the environmental problem you identify. These options can be many, including clean-up operations, land acquisition, environmental restoration, or environmental regulations, or some combination of these.
  • You must choose a group or groups to carry out your solution. These groups might include non-profit organizations, federal, state and local government agencies, and businesses. You might find yourself founding a non-profit organization for the purpose of carrying out the project.
  • You must consider what political steps are necessary to carry out your project. What government bodies must be convinced of the feasibility and importance of your project? From whom might you need permission (and permission to do what)? Legislatures? Regulatory bodies? International organizations? How do you go about convincing them?
  • What sort of public relations effort might be most useful in gaining support for your project and alerting community members as to what you hope to accomplish?
  • Your Budget: how will you divide your funds between physical project expenses, communications, preliminary studies, staff, etc.
Your term paper will consist of four phases plus a final oral report, each graded separately.
Proposal: This includes specifying the issue and region you will examine and brief description of what you might expect from the categories 1-7 listed above. This does not imply that you will already know. However, you will need to demonstrate that you' ve given your proposal serious thought and carried out preliminary research. This should also include three sources you' ve so far identified on the problem. One of those sources must have been found using the Hoover Library' s A-Z database list, and should be identified as such. No Wikipedia pages.
  • Outline: Your outline should give a basic step-by-step description of how your term paper will unfold; in effect it should form the skeleton of your final paper. You should add three more sources to the three identified in the proposal.
  • Rough draft: Four or more pages, not including bibliography; you will not be graded for content, but for evidence of having made a good effort, for following rules for referencing sources, etc. The first draft will give you an opportunity to receive feedback before completing a final draft.
  • Final paper: Your proposal to use forty million dollars to fund an environmental initiative somewhere in the world.
Oral report

As you complete your term paper you will have the chance to present orally your proposal. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Your presentation should last no more than three-fourths of the time available. The rest of the time will be reserved for questions and answers. I will not allow your presentation to run into this question-and-answer period.
  • Use visual aids. They assist memory and comprehension for your audience (and you). Don' t overcrowd your visuals with too much text.
  • Don' t read your visuals—they are there us to read and to act as a guide. Allow your visuals to clarify and supplement your report, not to be your report. Turning your back to your audience and reading from your slides ruins your rapport with your audience and will surely not bring you a good grade. Finally, if you present your findings without reading, then you will find yourself fresher and better prepared to answer questions during the question-and-answer period.
  • Your presentation should last no more than three-fourths of the time available. The rest of the time will be reserved for questions and answers. I will not allow your presentation to run into this question-and-answer period.
  • Arrive ahead of time. Relax and enjoy. Remember, in this room you are the expert on what you' re proposing—on the problem, the region, the political, social and economic context, and, most of all, the solutions you are suggesting. And, consider—you are trying to persuade an audience that your environmental proposal merits $40,000,000.
Honor Code

You are expected without question to adhere completely to the McDaniel College academic honor code. Any violation will result in a zero for the given assignment and other possible sanctions.

Course Policies

Informed, critical exchange of ideas forms the core of the McDaniel College learning experience. It should occur in every classroom. This is why in-class participation determines part of your grade. You are expected to share ideas during discussions; you are wholeheartedly encouraged to ask questions when you do not understand something; you will have chances to speak one-on-one with your fellow students as well as to speak before the entire class.

Creation of a proper classroom environment requires above all else respect for fellow students. We all ask that you don' t be late; that you don' t read newspapers, magazines, or otherwise distract everyone else during class; that you don' t browse the Internet; that you turn off your cell phone and that you do not check for messages during class; that you don' t pack up with five minutes left. Likewise, you can expect me to end class on time, to engage you in discussion and debate (that is, not to do all of the talking), and to be respectful of all points of view.

Participation implies attendance; absences will be noted and will adversely affect your final participation grade. In addition, in accordance with McDaniel Budapest' s attendance policy, there will be an automatic deduction of one letter grade for every unexcused absence following your third unexcused absence.

Semester schedule/topics covered
Mon. Jan 31 in class: Introduction
Wed. Feb 2 in class: A sample environmental initiative
Mon. Feb 7 in class: Conservationism
Wed. Feb 9 in class: Environmentalism
Mon. Feb 14 in class: Science
Wed. Feb 16 Term paper proposal due in class: Global Warming
Mon. Feb 21 in class: Global Warming and CFCs
Wed. Feb 23 in class: US institutions—Congress
Mon. Feb 28 in class: US institutions—The Executive Branch I
Wed. Mar 2 in class: US institutions—The Executive Branch II
Mon. Mar 7 in class: US institutions—The Courts
Wed. Mar 9 in class: the Feds, the States and land management in the West
Mon. Mar 14 Term paper outline due in class: exam review
Wed. Mar 16 in class: mid-term exam
Mon. Mar 21 in class: Energy I: Overview
Wed. Mar 23 in class: Energy II: Nuclear power
Mon. Mar 28 in class: Energy III: Alternative Sources
Wed. Mar 30 in class: European policy, ideology—Green Parties
Mon. Apr 4 in class: European policy, in practice—The EU
Wed. Apr 6 in class: Hungary I: the post-communist state
Mon. Apr 11 in class: Hungary II: introduction to transboundary pollution
Wed. Apr 13 in class: Transboundary pollution II
Spring Break
Mon. Apr 26 Term paper rough draft duein class: International policy: Whaling
Wed. Apr 28 in class: International policy: IWC, class negotiations
Mon. May 2 in class: International policy: The Guyana Shield
Wed. May 4 in class: Solutions—Ecotechnology and radical alternatives
Mon. May 9 in class: Student presentations/Exam review
Wed. May 11 in class: Student presentations/Exam review
Week of May 16 Final exams Final exam date/time TBA
Term paper due on May 18
Friday, May 20 Graduation

PSI 2215