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University of Rhode Island — Environmental & Natural Resource Economics
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EEC 534 – Economics of Natural Resources
Course Information

Professor: Dr. Emi Uchida
Semester: Spring
Credits: 4
Prerequisites: EEC 528 or permission of instructor

Catalog Description: Microeconomic theory applied to problems of natural resource allocation. The rationale for government intervention in the market’s provision of natural resources and alternative techniques for optimally allocated natural resources are investigated.

Course Goals & Outcomes

As the first graduate course in resource economics, this course examines a broad range of issues related to the use of natural resources with a framework that combines microeconomic theory, reasoning, and techniques required to set up and solve natural resource allocation problems. The economic tools are applied to renewable and non-renewable resource problems, including the problems of fisheries overexploitation, excessive forest harvesting, competition over land and water, and energy resources. The course also examines the economic rationale for government intervention in the market's provision of natural resources and evaluates alternative methods for regulating the use of selected natural resources.

The first two-thirds of the course (up to the midterm) is devoted to learning the basic principles and tools required to analyze natural resource management problems. The last third of the course consists of several case studies of contemporary renewable and non-renewable natural resource problems. The last week of the course will be led by students, who will present their term projects.

By the end of the semester students will be able to:

  • Identify the basic economic theory of the use of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources
  • Apply basic economic models of natural resource use and empirical tools to contemporary issues
  • Prepared for the study of advanced natural resource economics
Course Syllabus

Class topics:

  • Modeling, concepts, and natural resource allocation
    • Basic concepts
    • Solving numerical allocation problems using Excel Solver
    • Fundamentals of renewable resource economics
      • Capital adjustment problems
      • Timing problems
    • Fundamentals of non-renewable resource economics
  • Contemporary Topics
    • Land use
    • Water allocation, markets, pricing, and conservation
    • Ecosystem services and ecosystem-based management
    • Co-management of fisheries / sector allocation
    • Stock pollutants
    • Decision making under uncertainty and option value
About The Professor

Dr. Emi Uchida
Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
University of Rhode Island
Tel: 401-874-4586

Dr. Uchida is an environmental economist who specializes in the economics of poverty and natural resource management. Her current research interests are in:

  • examining effectiveness of policies in alleviating poverty and sustaining natural resources;
  • measuring the tradeoffs among multiple ecosystem services from agriculture, forests, and coastal ecosystems; and
  • valuation of ecosystem services and market approaches to provision of ecosystem services.

She conducts her research in Asia, Africa, and the U.S. and utilizes household surveys, field experiments, spatial data, econometric, and numerical methods.

Reasons To Take This Course

Natural resource economics is a field in applied economics that aims to address the connections and interdependence between human economies and natural ecosystems. Its focus is in understanding the incentives that individuals, communities, and regulators face in utilizing and managing limited resources and designing policies and institutions to achieve sustainable management of resources.

This course is useful for those pursuing careers as economists in environmental business and marketing, consulting, and government agencies such as EPA, NOAA, and USDA.

This course is a requirement for environmental and natural resource economics majors and a prerequisite for several other upper level courses.

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