ES201 Fall 2002 – Graduate Seminar Description

Professor Harold Ward

Policies to improve or maintain the quality of the environment are often cast in terms of “sustainability.” While we may find a precise definition of sustainability elusive, the general concept is appealing and its invocation sufficiently pervasive that it is worth our effort to investigate. Indeed, as this class begins, the World Summit on Sustainable Development is just concluding < http://www.johannesburgsummit.ory/ >, unfortunately, with only token participation by the U.S. In order to keep our enquiry grounded, we will attempt to apply the sustainability concept by working as partners with the Policy Office of the Rhode Island Senate to develop policies for Rhode Island to reduce greenhouse gas emissions arising from transportation. Rhode Island has just completed Phase I of its Greenhouse Gas Action Plan, and we will take as our study area the transportation policies identified in that plan.

3 September

In the first class we will discuss the Preface and Chapter One of Newman and Kenworthy’s book: Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence (available at the Brown Bookstore). You should have read that selection and be prepared to discuss it. Please bring to class a list of two or three issues raised in this reading that you think should be discussed these could arise from questions for clarification of challenging concepts, a disagreement with the authors’ analysis, or an interest in applying or extending their ideas.

5 September

We will discuss the transportation priorities identified in the Phase I Action Plan. Excerpts from the Plan are attached to this course description, and the entire final Phase I report and appendices can be found at: We will focus particularly on Options 18 21 (which are discussed in the appendices starting at page 61). 1 suggest that you browse through the appendices, just to see what is there, and for an opportunity to brush up on your understanding of climate change issues. Again, bring to class a list of issues you would like to discuss.

9 and 10 September

At 4 pro on 9 September, Robert Kates will present a seminar on Sustainability Science, which you should all plan to attend. Bob will be in class with us on 10 September, and you should be prepared to discuss his talk with him and to seek his advice on the options for state level efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

12 September

We will return to a discussion of Options 18 21, with a goal to reach a level of understanding that will allow you to send me by e mail attachment by noon of 15 September a ranking of the options you would like to work on during the semester, as part of a team of two or three class members. I would prefer that you prepare this ranking as individuals, rather than as groups. You should explain your reasoning in forming your ranking with a short paragraph for each option. Ken Payne and Townsend Goddard from the RI Senate’s Policy Office will join us for this class.

17 September

Before this class, I will prepare some suggested team assignments, and we will review them in that class. I will not attempt to plan subsequent classes now, because my experience is that we will better know what is needed after we have worked together for a couple of weeks. However, I anticipate that one of the classes in the week of 23 September will be devoted to team presentations of a work plan for their project.

My role in the latter part of the course will be to meet with you individually and in teams, to serve as a consultant, to help you identify sources of information and to provide introductions. I do not expect you to know anything about the transportation issues in RI when you begin the course, and will do my best to help you get up to speed quickly in the area you select. Dan Weitz will assist in this class. He is in the second year of our Master’s program, and having had the course last year, will be able to provide useful suggestions for how to approach a project course.

It is important that you understand from the beginning that this is a true seminar a place where we come together to learn from each other and from our readings and discussions not a class where you expect to receive information passively from a professor’s lecture. What I have written here, the book I have selected and the websites I have identified will serve only as initial guides for our explorations. You are responsible for discovering materials more directly relevant to your own project and for sharing with others relevant information that you discover.

Communicating Throughout the Course

Since this seminar meets only twice each week, we will certainly need to communicate between class meetings we often cannot afford to wait several days for the answers to questions, and we will want to share results on a frequent basis. For that purpose, we will use e mail; you should check your mail at least daily, and preferably more frequently. My address is the standard Brown format: Harold_Ward {at} brown(.)edu. Dan may be reached at Daniel_Weitz {at} brown(.)edu.

Class Deliverables
I will ask you for team progress reports periodically through the semester. Until we know more about the conclusions you will reach and the recommendations you will make, it is premature to define the format of your final report. I can tell you that past classes have prepared Powerpoint presentations, websites and conventional hard copy reports. We will decide together what format best conveys your work to your audiences.


It is my responsibility to evaluate your performance in the course. To provide you with a rough guide for this evaluation, I will count approximately equally 1) your level of effort (including group efforts and assistance you have given to other class members), 2) your participation in class (judging both quality and quantity) and 3) the quality of your final products. In order for you to be evaluated fairly, you need to make certain that I am aware of efforts in category 1), since I will not always be able to observe these events directly. At the end of the semester, you will be asked for a self evaluation and for a candid evaluation of your team partner’s work.

I have a half time appointment for this semester, and may not be at Brown on many Mondays and Fridays. I check e mail frequently, so feel free to write me at any time. I will have office hours each week, which will be posted in advance on my office door. I am pleased to talk or correspond with you about any aspect of the course, or of our graduate program.

School: Brown University
Professor: Harold Ward
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