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Sustainability, Environment and Energy Policy

Humans remain part of the natural world. Like all other species, we rely upon the resources of the planet to thrive, and we return our wastes to the same environment. The impact of human activity on local areas has always been obvious—uncoordinated exploitation of resources and discharge of waste progressively reduces human well being. Growing population and economic activity increase the potential gains from understanding and optimizing our relationship with the rest of the natural world.

The concentration in Sustainability, Environment, and Energy Policy provides Public Policy students with an opportunity to devote a year to intense study of what is known scientifically about the impact of human economic activity on the earth’s resources, and of alternative means to enhance human well-being through public measures designed to optimize resource use.

Perhaps the most powerful set of environmental policy tools are those that control the use of energy resources. The state of scientific and technological knowledge at any time in history, together with known energy resources, defines feasible energy choices. Uncoordinated individual decisions to exploit these choices can lead to patterns of energy use that are socially inefficient.

An example is the tendency of individual drivers to ignore their own contribution to air pollution when making a decision to drive, walk or bicycle. It is the task of public policy to prevent such outcomes by inducing decision-makers to take into account all the effects of particular energy choices. This is also true of other natural resources, such as land and water. Ultimately, systems that adjust individual and organizational incentives must be devised in order to bring incentives in line with the public interest as determined by policy makers. Effective implementation of energy and other environmental policy goals may require changes in law, tax policy, the provision of public services such as highways and mass transit, international treaties, and other policy tools.

Students completing this concentration have employment opportunities with local, state, federal, and international organizations and regulatory agencies and with the firms dealing with environmental, energy, and other natural resource issues, and with private firms interacting with such agencies and organizations, including consultancies.

Note that the courses below are not an exhaustive list; students may select other courses for their concentration with the approval of their faculty advisor. 

Affiliated Faculty

Political Science
Public Policy
Graduate School of Business - Faculty, Woods Institute
Management Science and Engineering
Law School
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Management Science and Engineering, Energy Science & Engineering
Economics, Program on Energy and Sustainable Developmen

Gateway Courses

Elective Courses

Courses List
CEE 162E: Rivers, Streams, and Canals (CEE 262E)
CEE 166A: Watershed Hydrologic Processes and Models (CEE 266A)
CEE 166B: Water Resources and Hazards (CEE 266B)
CEE 172: Air Quality Management
CEE 176B: 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything (CEE 276B)
CEE 207A: Understand Energy (CEE 107A, EARTHSYS 103, ENERGY 107A, ENERGY 207A)
CEE 262B: Transport and Mixing in Surface Water Flows
CEE 262D: Introduction to Physical Oceanography (CEE 162D, EARTHSYS 164, ESS 148)
CEE 265D: Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries
CEE 271B: Environmental Biotechnology
CEE 272: Coastal Contaminants
CEE 274D: Pathogens and Disinfection
CEE 274P: Environmental Health Microbiology Lab
CEE 275A: California Coast: Science, Policy, and Law (CEE 175A)
CEE 278A: Air Pollution Fundamentals
EARTHSYS 111: Biology and Global Change (BIO 117, EARTHSYS 217, ESS 111)
EARTHSYS 281: Urban Agroecology (EARTHSYS 181, ESS 181, ESS 281, URBANST 181)
ECON 106: World Food Economy (EARTHSYS 106, EARTHSYS 206, ECON 206, ESS 106, ESS 206)
ECON 127: Economics of Health Improvement in Developing Countries (HRP 227, MED 262)
ENERGY 101: Energy and the Environment (EARTHSYS 101)
ENERGY 102: Fundamentals of Renewable Power (EARTHSYS 102)
ENERGY 104: Sustainable Energy for 9 Billion (ENERGY 204)
HUMBIO 130: Human Nutrition (CHPR 130)
LAW 7001: Administrative Law
ME 370A: Energy Systems I: Thermodynamics
ME 370B: Energy Systems II: Modeling and Advanced Concepts
MS&E 211: Introduction to Optimization (ENGR 62, MS&E 111)
MS&E 246: Financial Risk Analytics
MS&E 293: Technology and National Security (INTLPOL 256, MS&E 193)