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University of Rhode Island — Environmental & Natural Resource Economics
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EEC 535 – Environmental Economics
Course Information

Professor: Dr. Simona Trandafir
Semester: Spring
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: EEC 528 or equivalent or permission of instructor

Catalog Description: Theory of externalities; incentive-based and regulatory policy instruments for addressing market failure; theory and methods for valuing natural resource and environmental services; other environmental topics

Course Goals & Outcomes

This course is designed to cover environmental topics such as sustainability, the theory of externalities, policy instruments for addressing market failure; natural resource and environmental services valuation methods; resource scarcity and substitutions; and principles of analysis of environmental projects. A particular objective of this course is to develop the analytical skills that will provide students with the ability to critically asses the optimality of human actions (private or public) in protecting, allocating and managing the environment.

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

  • Knowledgeably discuss on sustainability issues
  • Identify economic indicators of sustainability
  • Assess the effectiveness and efficiency of various market based policies to address market failures
  • Identify the appropriate method for valuing natural resources under various circumstances
  • Recognize the source and effects of unintended biases in contingent valuation methods (surveys)
  • Recognize the essential steps in the design and implementation of contingent valuation surveys
  • Identify and apply validity and reliability tests to contingent valuation studies
  • Critically asses the validity and reliability of environmental valuation studies
Course Syllabus

Class topics:

  • Economy-Environment interactions
  • Sustainability
    • Sustainable development
    • Sustainability rules
    • Economic indicators of sustainability
    • How sustainable are organic products?
  • Market failure
    • Externalities
      • Local and global pollution
    • Property rights
      • Did we get Coase’s theorem right?
    • Public goods
      • Should I pay or should I free ride?
  • Environmental policies
    • Command and control
    • Incentive based
    • Command and control versus incentive based policies: a classroom application
  • Science and environmental policies
  • Highway externalities: the case of congestion
    • Aren’t gas prices high enough to stave off congestion or do we need extra help from toll booths and windshield transponders?
  • Environmental valuation
    • Revealed preferences methods
      • Travel cost method
      • Hedonic pricing method
    • Stated preferences methods
      • Contingent valuation method
    • How much would you pay to avoid another BP oil spill? - An in-class team-based exercise on survey design for natural resource damage assessment
  • Transboundary pollution
    • Climate change
    • An attention grabbing tool or a real threat to human kind? – an in-class debate on pro versus against arguments on climate change
About The Professor

Dr. Simona Trandafir
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
211 Kingston Coastal Institute
Office: 401-874-2471
Fax: 401-782-4766

Dr. Trandafir is an environmental economist who specializes in transportation economics. Her current research interests are:

  • container port competition;
  • highway externalities and congestion pricing; and
  • climate change.
Reasons To Take This Course

This course will equip you with the analytical tools needed in the development and implementation of pertinent solutions to current environmental issues and problems.

This course is a requirement for environmental and natural resource economics graduate programs.

Cool Links
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) - The U.S. EPA is a governmental organization responsible for the implementation and enforcement of rules and regulations targeted at protecting the health and environment of our nation. You can read more about several interesting topics covered in this course on its Website. The EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics Webpage provides comprehensive information on analyses of economic and health impacts of various environmental policies addressing hot topics like climate change, biofuels, waste management, and land cleanup.
  • Sustainability - The Sustainability Program of EPA's Office of Research and Development provides information on broad topic areas such as water, air, climate and energy, safe and sustainable communities, and materials management and safe chemicals.
  • Fuel Efficiency - A hot topic in the local and global air pollution debate is fuel economy and environment labels. The joint effort of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation has resulted in improved fuel efficiency standards (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emission standards. Check it out!
  • Oil Spills - U.S. EPA Response to BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico - the emergency response had ended but this page provides reliable information about this historical oil spill.