This seminar is about the relationship between economics and justice in the context of environmental well-being. Economists and economic logic play an important role in a great many applications of policymaking, including regulation of the natural environment. When it comes to issues of justice, this role is contentious. On the one hand, there is a sense that normative economics is blindly in thrall to markets and efficiency, at the expense of fairness and equality. On the other hand, positive economics provides valuable tools for understanding why environmental injustice happens and how policies do and do not address such injustice – in theory, and in practice.
In seven two-hour class meetings, we will study, discuss, and apply the economics lens to the challenges of environmental, energy, and climate justice. Students will take turns leading the discussion of assigned readings. Seminar grades will be determined by in-class participation and two written assignments (an op-ed and a 2-3 page persuasive essay). The seminar will be divided into three subsections:
1. Ethics in economic analysis
2. Causes of environmental injustice
3. Evaluating environmental policy on equity grounds
Inclusive, open-minded discussion will be the top priority in class meetings, and lecture will only be used where relevant economics concepts are not universally understood by students. Readings will be chosen from books and journal articles focused on economics, philosophy, and justice.
This course will be offered in Fall A.