The environmental policy study area addresses problems of environmental decision making at a time of rapid institutional and social change. How our society can best meet the growing challenges of environmental stewardship through mandated and voluntary public participation in decision making is the central question. This concern is increasingly important to many segments of modern society, and we intend that students acquiring knowledge in this study area will be prepared to contribute positively to these processes in career pursuits.
The focus of this study area is on developing new understanding of environmental decision making, against the backdrop of environmental policy making and program implementation. Particular attention is given to (a) the variety of organizations involved, which generally are the institutions and agencies of government, citizen-based non-governmental organizations and the business or industrial sector; (b) the availability and utility of environmental information for these groups; and (c) the participation and integration of all informed stakeholders into environmental decision making. This tripartite scheme of organizations, information and participation frames student programs of study and suggests important directions for student and faculty research efforts.
The study area advances understanding of these questions of participatory democracy for environmental decision making through research and instruction and is particularly suited to inquisitive students with degrees in environmental studies, political science, geography, engineering and other fields that provide interdisciplinary backgrounds in natural and social science.