Environmental Policy and Human Ecology


Environmental Policy analysis involves the use of techniques and methods to understand the process of public policy-making; to assess the probable consequences of policy alternatives; and to employ decision criteria such as effectiveness, efficiency, fairness, equity, feasibility, and sustainability. It is concerned with policies dealing with the natural environment. Because environmental policies only become issues when conflicts arise over roles for natural environments, the EPHE Area of Emphasis examines the interactions of human activities and natural environments in order to further our understanding of conflicts and to develop means of addressing them. This program is particularly oriented toward students wishing to do research in environmental policy, or at least be able to evaluate the research of others.

Human Ecology examines human populations and behavior using concepts, theory and methods drawn behavior ecology, optimization, and game theory to examine such topics as the evolution of cooperation, collective action, decision-making processes, and ethno-ecological knowledge in hunter-gatherer, agricultural and urban societies, and how these relate to resource use, conservation and development. Emphasis is placed on models and other formal techniques for empirical testing involving experimental and observational or ethnographic field research.

We prepare students for careers in academia, governmental agencies, consulting firms and, to a lesser extent, interest groups, NGOs, and corporations. The Environmental Policy and Human Ecology  AOE emphasizes research design and methods, quantitative techniques, and the relevant social sciences, particularly economics, political science, and planning. In addition, as members of the GGE, students will be expected to acquire a basic understanding of ecology and will have access to a wide variety of faculty and programs in the ecological sciences.

Curriculum for Masters and Ph.D. Programs

All GGE AOE students must fulfill the course requirements of the GGE.  The intent of the GGE AOE curriculum is to provide students interested in environmental policy and human ecology guidance and additional structure in their coursework.  The GGE AOE recognizes that individual students may have highly diverse interests and needs.  Modifications in the requirements of a student's course program may be made subject to the approval of the GGE AOE Adviser and Chair.

AOE Required Courses 

ECL 290: EPHE Seminar

ECL 298: EPHE Core Course

ESP 278: Research Design (with new section on ethnographic methods); 
this counts as the ecology field course


Mark Lubell, Adviser, Environmental Science & Policy, 530-752-5880

Mike Springborn, Adviser, Environmental Science & Policy, 530-752-5244

Jim Sanchirico, Adviser, Environmental Science & Policy, 530-754-9883