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University of Rhode Island — Marine Affairs
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MAF 415 - Marine Pollution Policy
Course Information

Professor: Dr. Richard Burroughs
Semester: Spring
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: OCG123 or OCG401, or a similar course

Catalog Description: Lecture

Course Goals & Outcomes
  • Students completing this course will see how the policy process connects scientific and technical issues related to water pollution to legal and other means to control human behavior.
  • Students will know how oil, methyl mercury, radioactive materials, nutrients, synthetic organics and other contaminants affect the environment and how laws are used to limit damages.
  • In three separate writing exercises, students will have synthesized science and policy information to propose solutions to marine pollution problems.
Course Syllabus

Class topics:

  • Background on Pollution and Policy
  • Biological Systems Subject to Pollution
  • Coastal Oceanography
  • Wastewater
  • Impacts on Individuals and Marine Populations
  • Oil
  • Metals
  • Halogenated Hydrocarbons
  • Radioactivity
  • Dredging
About The Professor

Professor Burroughs received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and has worked in a number of policy positions in Washington, DC.

His new book, Coastal Governance, was published by Island Press in 2011. The book provides a fundamental and accessible introduction to the main issues related to the coasts. Articles by Professor Burroughs have appeared in 11 different professional journals. He serves on the Narragansett Bay Commission and on the International Council of Mystic Seaport.

Reasons To Take This Course

As people crowd into the coastal areas of the world they consume ever-greater amounts of energy and materials. Discharges from human activities cause marine pollution crises almost daily. Massive oil spills, large dead seas devoid of oxygen, and a plethora of toxic chemicals damage natural systems and threaten human health.

This course introduces you to the scientific and technical issues associated with oil, methyl mercury, radioactive elements, nutrient enrichment, synthetic organic chemicals and other pollutants. Creating sustainable coastal environments requires skill in identifying pollution problems, understanding technical options, and integrating information to propose effective policy solutions. Government agencies, environmental groups, and others value these skills.

Cool Links

EPA, National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Web page: