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Fall 2008 Writing Assignments and Exam Materials

  1. Exams
  2. Writing Assignments

Mike

Mike

Writing Assignment #1: Property Rights and the Environment

  • Identify an environmental/resource issue or problem in your hometown or in another area you closely identify with. Explain the problem using the property rights concepts we raised in class – in particular, what elements are missing. What is the source of this conflict and how might it be resolved fairly and efficiently? Compare and contrast the problem in your town with one that may be more familiar to lay readers. Present a clear and thoughtful conclusion. This essay is not to exceed 1,200 words. If you wish to submit it as an OpEd, it is not to exceed 750 words.
  • Due Tuesday, September 23, at the start of class.

Writing Assignment #2: Altruism and Self-Interest

Writing Assignment #2: Altruism, Self-Interest and the Nature of Nature

  • OPTION 1: Are humans generally altruistic or concerned with their own well-being? What are the implications of this tendency on environmental quality and protection? Do these implications differ from their impacts on more common consumer goods? Why or why not? Who is responsible for “the environment”? Explain. This essay is not to exceed 1,600 words.
  • OPTION 2: Can man be separated from nature? Explore from an economic standpoint. Case studies or historical examples are encouraged. This essay is not to exceed 1,600 words.
  • Due Thursday, October 2, at the start of class

Writing Assignment #2: Altruism and Self-Interest

Writing Assignment #3: Are There Enough Resources?

  • OPTION 1: Select any resource. Present data on its previous and current production and consumption (broadly defined). Describe the past, present and expected future uses of this resource. Will we run out of this resource (and explain why)? Should this be a concern? Would your analysis change if the resource you selected were “renewable” (if non-renewable) or “non-renewable” (if renewable)? What entity is responsible for ensuring that the use of this resource is “sustainable”? This essay is not to exceed 1,600 words.
  • OPTION 2: Present a brief history of doomsday beliefs. Evaluate why these views might have been held at the time, whether they came true or not, and whether these views persisted. What economic considerations had a hand in the formation of these beliefs? Characterize, if possible, how the nature of the beliefs have changed over time, and the relationship of those beliefs to the prevailing economic times.
  • Due Thursday, October 9, at the start of class 

Writing Assignment #2: Altruism and Self-Interest

Writing Assignment #4: Technology and Environmental Policy

  • How has technology affected the prevalence and severity of “market failures” such as the open-access problem, or the public goods problem? You might wish to focus on a single case study. How has technology affected the regulatory environment and favored governmental policies for dealing with market failures? Briefly comment on why and how these technologies developed, and who was behind their advancement. (For example, the new technology we use in our EZ-Pass tags for cars enables city officials in London to relieve urban traffic congestion by charging different prices for access to city streets at different times of day. This technology did not exist in easily usable form until recently.) Alternately, you may write an OpEd piece on how “potential” technological developments can influence an environmental problem and ultimate policy choice as applied to a current environmental problem of your choice. The essay is not to exceed 1,200 words.
  • Due Tuesday, October 28, at the start of class

Writing Assignment #2: Altruism and Self-Interest 

Writing Assignment #5: National Parks and Federal Lands – Should They Remain “Publicly” Owned?

  • You might also consider state lands. Provide at least 2 pros and 2 cons for keeping these lands in the public domain. Be clear about the importance of the institutional and cultural environment you are assuming. What environmental problems are most likely to occur on private lands? Explain. What environmental problems are most likely to occur on public lands? Explain. Is it fair that residents (and representatives) of a state like New York can influence land use policy in far-away states such as Montana? This essay is not to exceed 2,000 words.
  • Due Thursday, November 13, at the start of class

Writing Assignment #2: Altruism and Self-Interest 

Writing Assignment #6: Recycling

  • Examine the efficiency of the recycling program in your hometown or home state. Be sure to discuss all of the relevant parties. What market failure is the program addressing? Should these resources be conserved for others’ sake? Do these resources need to be conserved? Characterize the public choice aspects of the program. This essay is not to exceed 1,500 words.
  • Due Tuesday, December 2, at the start of class

Writing Assignment #2: Altruism and Self-Interest 

Writing Assignment #7: Should Environmentalists Embrace Economics?

  • Address the question in an essay of 1,800 words or less. In posing the question and answer, be sure to define terms (such as what you mean by an environmentalist), and justify your answer using economics. If you wish to discuss ethical considerations, please address the contributions and limits that economic analysis can bring to bear on the topic.
  • Due Thursday, December 11, at the start of class

Mike

Mike

Exams

  • Review questions for mid-term exam
  • Mid-term exam
  • Mid-term exam solutions
  • Review questions for final exam
  • Final exam
  • Final exam solutions
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