MEM Specialization in Environmental Policy Analysis

Purpose and Scope

The challenges of managing natural resources and environmental quality are well-recognized and becoming increasingly important. Issues arise at the site, local, regional, national, and global scales, and decisions often require the balancing of competing interests with different objectives. The methods and applications of environmental policy analysis provide a basis for more informed decision making. The purpose of the Environmental Policy Analysis Specialization is to teach students the skills to apply various methods of policy analysis, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and apply them to better understand the implications of various decision options to manage environmental and natural resource challenges.
The Environmental Policy Analysis specialization will be of interest to MEM students who seek to understand and employ analytical frameworks that apply to a broad range of environmental issue areas and are critical for strategic environmental policy within organizations that develop, analyze, practice and evaluate environmental and natural resource management. Students specializing in Environmental Policy Analysis frequently seek employment in a range of organizations spanning all areas of environmental management, including government agencies, international development institutions, non-governmental organizations, corporations, and consulting firms.


Students choosing the Environmental Policy Analysis specialization, like all MEM students, are strongly encouraged to complete the MEM Foundations courses.[1]  These courses expose students to methodological tools and theories that all MEM students should learn, regardless of their specialization, to excel as environmental professionals. The courses are

Specialization Requirements 
The core of the Environmental Policy Analysis specialization consists of four courses in the areas of economics, policy, and law. Students are also required to complete two professional skills courses and develop skills in statistical methods with one statistics requirement beyond the level of the foundations course. Finally students should focus on a topical area of concentration with two electives in a particular environmental or natural resource issue area, in addition to satisfying the one capstone course or project for the MEM degree. Specifically students must complete the following:

Economic and Quantitative Policy Analysis (at least two of the following)      

Environmental and Natural Resource Law (at least one of the following)

Environmental and Natural Resource Governance (at least one of the following)

Statistical and Quantitative Methods (at least one of the following)

 Topical Concentration (at least two courses within an issue area)

Environmental Policy Analysis students should also develop expertise in some specific environmental or natural resource problem or issue (e.g., renewable energy, water resources, environmental health, forest management, biological diversity, climate change, conservation, etc.). Students are encouraged to look at other specializations to develop this two-course sequence (e.g., Energy and the Environment, Ecosystem Conservation and Management, and others). Students may also develop the sequence based on their own interests, but will need to make the case that two courses are consistent with developing an area of topical concentration.   

Professional Skills

Effective environmental policy analysis requires more than academic mastery, and we require students to take at least two of the professional skills modules offered within FES, each worth one credit.

Capstone Course or Project
Each MEM student is required to participate in a Capstone course or project. The Capstone experience focuses on applied problem solving and relies on the application of knowledge, methodological approaches, and interpretive techniques gained from courses taken during the earlier stages of the MEM. A Capstone project, in contrast to a course, originates with the student, with input and advice from the student’s advisor and at least one member of the Environmental Policy Analysis specialization. The requirements for the capstone course or project are not different from those for the MEM degree more generally, other than to require participation of a faculty member from the Environmental Policy Analysis specialization.

Faculty Coordinator: Matthew Kotchen

Specialization Affiliated Faculty: Ben Cashore, Daniel Esty, Eli Fenichel, Kenneth Gillingham, Robert Mendelsohn, John Wargo, Susan Clark.

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