Environmental Economics

Colorado College
Colorado Springs, CO

Instructor: Mark Griffin Smith
Department: Economics & Business
Term taught: Spring 2000

As with all syllabi on the Environmental Education Station, please note that the copyright for this material is retained by the instructor.

Instructor: Professor Mark Griffin Smith, 103 Palmer Hall, Telephone: Ext. 6411 

Room: 116 Palmer Hall 

Class Hours: 9:00 12:00 Monday - Friday & afternoons as scheduled. 

Office Hours: Immediately after class and by appointment. 

Prerequisite: Economics 203 or 204. Competence in algebra. 

Field Trip: Required during third week of the block. We will leave for Lake Powell at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 1 and return to campus, late
Friday evening, May 7. We will also have a field trip to Denver in the afternoon of Tuesday, April 27.The field trips are an integral part of the
course. If for any reason you cannot participate in the field trips you should drop the course immediately. 

Course Texts: 

Dorfman, Robert and Dorfman, Nancy S., eds. Economics of the Environment: Selected Readings, 3rd ed., New York: W.W. Norton, 1993. 

Economics 335, "Readings". (Available from Sheila Fuller, Economics Department secretary for $15 - checks only.)


As distributed. 


Objective: To develop: (1) the tools necessary for the economic analysis of environmental and natural resource problems; (2) the ability to apply
those tools in the investigation of a real world environmental resource problem and; (3) the insight to form policy recommendations on basis of such
analysis and investigation. Particular emphasis on problems of market failure, ie., externalities, public goods, non-market goods, uncertainty, income
distribution, inter-temporal resource allocation and policies to correct for imperfect markets. 


Percentage Assignment of Grade 

(1) Exam 30% 

(2) Policy Recommendation 30% 

(3) Background Brief 15% 

(4) Class Participation 5% 

(5) Problem Sets 10% 

(6) Topic Presentation 10% 

Exam: The exam will be a three-hour in-class exam on April 30. It will be closed note and closed book. You will be allowed to bring a one page
crib sheet to the exam. If for any reason you will miss the exam you MUST inform the instructor BEFORE the exam is given; only then can
arrangements be made for you to take the exam at another time. 

Policy Recommendation: The major assignment of the course is preparing a policy recommendation on the future of Glen Canyon Dam. Your
recommendation will be based on meetings with the various actors involved with the issue during the field trip and study of written materials
available in the Glen Canyon file. You will have until 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 12 to complete your paper. Detailed instructions for this
assignment will be distributed later. 

Class Participation: Each block course at C.C. is expensive and there are relatively few in your four years of undergraduate education. It is
important that you participate fully and enthusiastically in the activities of the course if you are to receive your full measure of value from it. It is
equally important to others in the course that you share your opinions, respect theirs, attend field trips as well as other class activities, and
otherwise assist in this "team" learning experience which can be an important element of the class. A portion of your grade will be based upon
the instructor's evaluation of your enthusiasm and participation as well as your contribution to such necessary field trip activities such as buying
food, cooking, cleaning-up, etc.. 

Participation is especially important during the field trip where it will be necessary for you to ask questions in order to get the information you
need to write your paper. You cannot rely on me or other students to do your questioning for you. Moreover, the impression that you give our
speakers of Colorado College will largely be a function of the interest and insight you show in questioning them. 

Background Briefs: In order to prepare ourselves fully for the case study we need to develop resource people on various aspects of the case
study including endangered species,power operations at the dam, recreation on the river and lake and other issues. To this end you will form
teams to examine one of these in depth, prepare a one to two page summary. Guidelines for these briefs will be distributed separately. Your
written briefs must be submitted to me by 4:00 p.m., , April 30 so that I can make copies for the class in advance of the trip. I plan to incorporate
all of these briefs into the EC 335 web site on Glen Canyon. 

Problem Sets: Two problems sets will be distributed. The first is due Friday, April 23, the second is due Thursday, April 29. Half your grade on
these problem sets will be based on a serious effort to work the problem, half on solving the problem correctly. As the time available to grade
these problem sets is very limited, all answers must be clearly identified or else they will be graded as wrong. 

Topic Presentation: Working in teams of two, each of you will present a summary of one of the papers from Dorfman and Dorfman. These
presentations must be no longer than 10 minutes long. 

Suggested Study Approach 

It will be beneficial to you to discuss and work through the material with a few other students from the class. It is not enough merely to read
through this material; you must work at grasping it. This can best be done by forming a study group where the participants can ask questions
and work until you understand the material well enough to explain it to someone else - then you will know it. 

Grading Policy 

I use the following method in determining your final grade. First, I add up all points for all assignments for all students in the course. Once I
know the high score, I calculate the difference between this score and a score of 95%. I then add this amount to every student's final point total
and assignment grades according to the scale below: 

A : 93-100 C+: 77-79 

A-: 90-92 C : 73-76 

B+: 87-89 C-: 70-72 

B : 83-86 D+: 67-69 

B-: 80-82 D: 63-66 

D-: 60-62 

NC: <60 

Clearly using this grading system there is always at least one A in the course, sometimes only one, but sometimes many A's. If the highest
score in the class exceeds 95% of total points, no points are added to your final scores. 


This course has a long field trip during which we have numerous meetings sometimes fairly closely scheduled and other times with several
hours traveling time between them. The people with whom we will be meeting are busy and are willing to talk with us solely because they
believe that what we are doing in this course is important. We must respect them and their time. In short, we will be on time to all our

To help assure this outcome, I am issuing the following warning: if you are late to class or absent more than twice for any reason short of injury
or illness, you will be excluded from field trip of the third week. You will thus have the entire last week and a half of the block to work on the
policy recommendation at your leisure.