Courses and Academic Resources at Yale

Millstone Power Plant

Case study: The Future of Nuclear in Connecticut

The Future of Nuclear in Connecticut is a case study about the controversial topic of the role of nuclear power in climate change mitigation.

Fall 2017

Graduate Courses

CHEM 505 - Alternative Energy

Gary W Brudvig

Design principles for molecular components of alternative energy devices. Climate change and our alternative energy future. Light energy conversion, energy transfer, and charge separation in photosynthesis. Dioxygen evolution in photosystem II. Biofuels: bioethanol, biodiesel, hydrogenase. Interaction of light with semiconductors. Fast spectroscopy to probe interfacial electron transfer. Computational design and characterization. Solar cells for electricity, photo-catalysis, biomimetic water oxidation. Hydrogen economy. Team-taught.

ECON 739 - Climate Change Economics

Robert O Mendelsohn, William D Nordhaus

The course reviews several modern valuation studies that are central to the estimation of the economic damages from climate change. The aim is to train students to deal with quantitative economic analysis and modeling. Students form teams of two and choose a study; gather the data and methods of that study from the authors or a journal; and then reproduce the published results. The teams study the theory and empirical analysis, gather the data and modeling to replicate the results, and determine how sensitive the results are to the assumptions and specifications. The course meets every other week for the entire year to give students time to analyze their studies and present their results. Prerequisites: econometrics and relevant courses in economics.

EHS 547 - Climate Change and Public Health

Robert Dubrow

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining relationships between climate change and public health. After placing climate change in the context of the Anthropocene and planetary health and exploring the fundamentals of climate change science, the course covers impacts of climate change on public health, including heat waves; occupational heat stress; air pollution; wildfires; aeroallergens; vector-borne, foodborne, and waterborne diseases; water scarcity; food security; migration; violent conflict; natural disasters; and health benefits of climate change mitigation. The course integrates climate justice issues and adaptation strategies into the discussion of specific topics. The course is reading-intensive and makes ample use of case studies, with a focus on critical reading of the literature and identifying research gaps and needs. This course should be of interest to students across Yale School of Public Health and the University.

F&ES 540 - Global Environmental Governance

Detlef Sprinz

This course provides an overview of global environmental policy and the management of long-term environmental policy challenges. Concepts include international negotiations, compliance, and effectiveness, while the empirical domains encompass the three major global conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and desertification. Using a portfolio approach to examinations, students prepare a range of individual and group assignments.

F&ES 606- Modeling a Dynamic World

Alark Saxena

The human and natural systems of the world we live in are dynamic, adaptive, and constantly interacting. Many of us are engaged in understanding and finding solutions to complex challenges, such as eradicating chronic poverty, stopping resources degradation, improving institutional governance, or adaptating to global climate change, that very often arise due to interactions between these systems. The dynamic and complex adaptive nature of such challenges necessitates newer theories, methods, and tools that can conduct interdisciplinary analysis beyond traditional disciplinary approaches. Systems approach and thinking have moved from being an in vogue concept on the periphery to being fundamental to analysis in a variety of disciplines. At the same time, modeling and simulation, while used in a variety of engineering and management related disciplines, have gained significant ground in both complexity and sustainability science. This course, while introducing theory associated with systems and sustainability science, is focused on providing hands-on fundamentals on modeling and simulation techniques originating in system dynamics. It engages in such questions as: What is a system? What is systems thinking? Why do we need systems thinking for sustainability science? What are models? How do we develop models? What is simulation? Why do we need modeling and simulation? What platforms, tools, and techniques can we learn to conduct modeling and simulation-based analysis?

F&ES 628 Understanding & Building Resilience

Alark Saxena

Resilience in the past decade has moved from a peripheral ecological idea to a central concept in major world debates: e.g., sustainable development goals, climate change adaptation, resilient infrastructure and ecosystems. What makes a person or a community resilient to the impacts of climate change? How has the resilience approach been operationalized in the fields of sustainability, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation? What are the limitations and critiques of resilience thinking, and how might this concept evolve in the future? As development and government agencies increasingly adopt the resilience approach, students interested in pursuing careers across a range of business, environmental, and development sectors will increasingly find themselves faced with these questions. This course prepares students to understand the theory of resilience and operationalize it in a given context.

F&ES 772 - Social Justice in Food System

Kristin Reynolds

This course explores social justice dimensions of today’s globalized food system and considers sustainability in terms of social, in addition to environmental, indicators. We develop an understanding of the food system that includes farmers and agroecological systems; farm and industry workers; business owners and policy makers; as well as all who consume food. Based on this understanding, we examine how phenomena such as racism, gender discrimination, structural violence, and neoliberalization surface within the food system both in the United States and globally, drawing examples from agriculture, labor, public health, international governance bodies, and NGOs. We examine how contemporary policy debates surrounding global issues such as immigration and climate change affect social and environmental justice in the food system at multiple scales. We discuss conceptual frameworks, including food justice and food sovereignty, that farmers, activists, critical food scholars, humanitarian agencies, and policy makers are using to create food systems that are both sustainable and just. Throughout the term we explore our own position(s) as university-based stakeholders in the food system. The course includes guest speakers, and students are encouraged to integrate aspects of their own academic and/or scholar-activist projects into one or more course assignments.

F&ES 824 - Environmental Law & Policy

Alejandro E Camacho

This course is an introductory survey of environmental common law and the major federal environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and hazardous waste and toxic substance laws. It explores foundational issues of statutory and regulatory analysis, ethics, politics, and economics in these various legal contexts. The course also considers various themes of environmental problems, including scientific uncertainty, risk, and risk perception. Given the breadth of the environmental law field, the course focuses on analyzing regulatory structure (i.e., the variety of existing and potential regulatory mechanisms for protecting and regulating usage of the environment) rather than either a superficial overview of every possible environmental topic or comprehensive analysis of only a few environmental statutes. The course also integrates a skills component that explores issues in statutory interpretation, legal ethics, federalism, and standing through several hypothetical problems as practiced from the perspective of environmental groups, government agencies, and regulated entity clients. Scheduled examination.

F&ES 835 - Sem: Land Use Planning

Jessica Bacher

TLand use control exercised by state and local governments determines where development occurs on the American landscape, the preservation of natural resources, the emission of greenhouse gases, the conservation of energy, and the shape and livability of cities and towns. The exercise of legal authority to plan and regulate the development and conservation of privately owned land plays a key role in meeting the needs of the nation's growing population for housing and nonresidential development and in ensuring that critical environmental functions are protected from the adverse impacts of land development. This course explores the multifaceted discipline of land use planning and its associated ecological implications. Numerous land use strategies are discussed that provide practical tools for professionals to use to create sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. The focus of this seminar is to expose students to the basics of land use planning in the United States and to serve as an introduction for the F&ES curricular concentration in land use. Guest speakers are professionals involved in sustainable development, land conservation, smart growth, and climate-change management. Classes include discussions on the trajectory for professional careers.

F&ES 977 - Narratives to Networks: Systems Communication

Paul Lussier

This course surveys, studies, and practices strategies toward effective climate and environmental science-based messaging with an eye toward public policy engagement and public interest. Students learn of new and emerging interdisciplinary research and theory in narratology, psychology, education, and cultural, social, and media sciences to help build skills they then practice in partnership with professional stakeholders on projects related to climate and energy policy, goals, and planning across the public and private sectors.

Courses Open to Both Graduate and Undergraduate Students

ANTH 391 / ANTH 791 / ARCG 391 / ARCG 791 - Paleoclimate & Human Response

Roderick McIntosh

The recursive interaction of climate change with human perception and manipulation of the landscape. Mechanisms and measures of climate change; three case studies of historical response to change at different scales.

ANTH 409 / ER&M 394 / EVST 422 / F&ES 422 / F&ES 878 - Climate & Society Past to Present

Michael Dove

Discussion of the major traditions of thought, both historic and contemporary, regarding climate, climate change, and society; focusing on the politics of knowledge and belief vs disbelief; and drawing on the social sciences and anthropology in particular.

GCENG 373 / ENVE 373 / F&ES 773 - Air Pollution Control

Drew R Gentner

An overview of air quality problems worldwide with a focus on emissions, chemistry, transport, and other processes that govern dynamic behavior in the atmosphere. Quantitative assessment of the determining factors of air pollution (e.g., transportation and other combustion-related sources, chemical transformations), climate change, photochemical “smog,” pollutant measurement techniques, and air quality management strategies.

EVST 143 / PLSC 142 / PLSC 676 - Global Climate Governance

Detlef Sprinz

An overview of global climate governance, including overarching conceptual frameworks, a variety of empirical subdomains, interlinkages with other policy fields, and modeling central challenges encountered in global climate governance. Students prepare a range of individual and group assignments throughout the term.

Undergraduate Courses

ARCG 226 - Global Environmental History

Harvey Weiss

The dynamic relationship between environmental and social forces from the Pleistocene glaciations to the Anthropocene present. Pleistocene extinctions; transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture; origins of cities, states, and civilization; adaptations and collapses of Old and New World civilizations in the face of climate disasters; the destruction and reconstruction of the New World by the Old. Focus on issues of adaptation, resilience, and sustainability, including forces that caused long-term societal change.

ECON 465 / EP&E 224 / GLBL 330 - Debating Globalization

Ernesto Zedillo

Facets of contemporary economic globalization, including trade, investment, and migration. Challenges and threats of globalization: inclusion and inequality, emerging global players, global governance, climate change, and nuclear weapons proliferation.

EVST 201 / G&G 140 - Atmosphere, Ocean & Environmental Change

Ronald B Smith

Physical processes that control Earth's atmosphere, ocean, and climate. Quantitative methods for constructing energy and water budgets. Topics include clouds, rain, severe storms, regional climate, the ozone layer, air pollution, ocean currents and productivity, the seasons, El Niño, the history of Earth's climate, global warming, energy, and water resources.

EVST 311 / G&G 331 - Environmental Communication for Public Policy

Paul Lussier

Analysis, assessment, and application of narrative strategies to the communication of climate and energy science toward public policy engagement and action. Emerging interdisciplinary theory and research in narratology, sociology, and psychology, as well as cultural, education, and media sciences.

rev. 08.31.17 

Spring 2019

Graduate Courses

EMD 548 / ARCG 362 / ARCG 762 / EVST 362 / F&ES 726 / G&G 362 / G&G 562

Observing Earth From Space
Ronald B Smith
A practical introduction to satellite image analysis of Earth’s surface. Topics include the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, satellite-borne radiometers, data transmission and storage, computer image analysis, the merging of satellite imagery with GIS and applications to weather and climate, oceanography, surficial geology, ecology and epidemiology, forestry, agriculture, archaeology, and watershed management.


Prerequisites: college-level physics or chemistry, two courses in geology and natural science of the environment or equivalents, and computer literacy.

ENAS 673 / ENVE 473

Air Quality & Energy: Assessing Impacts & Pollutant Behavior
Drew R Gentner
The production and use of energy are among the most important sources of air pollution worldwide. It is impossible to effectively address the impacts and regulation of air quality without understanding the impacts and behavior of emissions from energy sources. Through an assessment of emissions and physical/chemical processes, the course explores advanced topics (at the graduate level) on the behavior of pollutants from energy systems in the atmosphere. Topics include traditional and emerging energy technology, climate change, atmospheric aerosols, tropospheric ozone, as well as transport/modeling/mitigation.

EPH 513

Social, Environmental, and Biological Determinants of Major Health Threats
Catherine Yeckel
This course introduces students to three major health threats: global climate change, antibiotic resistance, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The goal is to achieve foundational knowledge of environmental factors in population health; ecological perspectives in human, animal, and ecosystem health (one health); biological and genetic factors that affect population health; as well as the impact of globalization on global disease burden. The course’s modular format includes mixed lecture, case study, and vignette approaches. Small, cross-disciplinary groups are used throughout the term to actively apply concepts, hone data interpretation skills, and frame research and health solution projects. Importantly, this group structure is used to implement an overarching leadership skills module to permit conversations, problem solving, and projects for each module. The course culminates in planning, designing, communicating, and pitching innovative major health threat solutions.

F&ES 614

Justice, Nature & Reflective Environmental Practice Seminar
Michael Mendez
Through an interdisciplinary approach to public health, and urban and environmental studies, we will examine the changing relationship between social systems, urbanization, biodiversity conservation, and environmental justice. Particular attention will be focused on how race, class, gender, immigration status, indigeneity, and sexuality intersects with the distribution of natural resources and the equitable development of cities. In the social sciences, the concept of intersectionality has been used to highlight how these social categories of culture and identity overlap, heightening the effects of discrimination, exclusion, social inequality, and systemic injustice in the lives of specific individuals. An intersectional approach to environmentalism emphasizes how certain people and groups suffer worse effects because of overlapping factors that are often measured separately. In the seminar, we define reflective practice as the ability to reflect on one's professional experiences, actions, and positionality, so as to engage in a process of continuous learning. Students will focus on reflective practice exercises to engage in the practical and theoretical methods used in the field of environmental policy and planning to address the immediate and long-term sustainability challenges posed by global and local environmental change. Urban and sociological theories will be complemented by real-world environmental controversies that require group collaboration to produce in-class presentations, role-playing negotiation case simulations, and the completion of a final research paper.

F&ES 630

The Physical Science of Climate Change
Peter Raymond
This course covers the science behind Earth’s climate system. The first part of the course entails understanding the components of Earth’s climate, including the chemical and physical atmosphere and the role of land, ice, and the oceans in regulating global climate. The second half takes a closer look at how Earth’s climate system impacts global sustainable boundaries, including its impact on ecosystems, water resources, the built environment, human health, and the global food system. During the first half of the course students are expected to complete weekly homework assignments that reinforce class concepts and perform a guided analysis using a climate model. The second half of the course involves project work on the impact of climate on a system (e.g., ecosystem, government, etc.).

F&ES 638

Carbon Footprints- Modeling and Analysis
Edgar Hertwich
Carbon footprinting is an important tool in climate policy making. Carbon footprints describe the greenhouse gas emissions associated with an activity, company, household, or nation and are based on a life-cycle perspective, assigning emissions of greenhouse gases to the end user. Carbon footprints are also discussed in connection with responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This course offers an introduction to the assessment of carbon footprints using input-output techniques and life-cycle assessment, and it examines scientific, policy, and management issues associated with carbon footprinting. It also offers an introduction to the analysis and interpretation of carbon footprint results. The course is split into two parts. In the first, students learn the techniques of carbon footprint modeling and analysis using generic tools such as Python or MatLab through both lectures and exercises. The second part of the course is dedicated to assessing and understanding carbon footprints of areas of final demand (e.g., food), specific product groups (e.g., cars), or organizations (e.g., F&ES, YNHH). Grading is based on problem sets, a midterm exam, and a final project. Enrollment limited to twenty-five.
Prerequisite: students must be comfortable with linear algebra and prepared to acquire basic programming and modeling skills. Prior knowledge of life-cycle assessment and industrial ecology is desirable and may be gained through taking F&ES 884 or F&ES 838.

F&ES 702

Climate Change Economics
Robert Mendelsohn
The course reviews several modern valuation studies that are central to the estimation of the economic damages from climate change. The aim is to train students to deal with quantitative economic analysis and modeling. Students form teams of two and choose a study; gather the data and methods of that study from the authors or a journal; and then reproduce the published results. The teams study the theory and empirical analysis, gather the data and modeling to replicate the results, and determine how sensitive the results are to the assumptions and specifications. Prerequisites: econometrics and relevant courses in economics.

F&ES 761

Negotiating International Agreements: The Case of Climate Change
Susan Biniaz
This seminar is a practical introduction to the negotiation of international agreements, with a focus on climate change. Students learn about the cross-cutting features of international environmental agreements and, through the climate change lens, explore the process of negotiating agreements, the development of national positions, advocating positions internationally, and the many ways in which differences among negotiating countries are resolved. The course also examines the history and substance of the climate change regime, including, inter alia, the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, and the 2015 Paris Agreement. Climate change issues in other international fora are also discussed, e.g., the International Civil Aviation Organization’s market-based mechanism to address CO2 emissions from international aviation. Grades are based on a series of short non-research papers, as well as class participation and a mock negotiation. Enrollment limited to twenty-two.

F&ES 820

Land Use Law & Environmental Planning
Marjorie F Shansky
AThis course explores the regulation by local governments of land uses in urban, rural, and suburban areas and the effect of development on the natural environment. The course helps students understand, in a practical way, how the environment can be protected through effective regulation at the local level. It introduces students to federal, state, regional, and local laws and programs that affect watershed protection and to the laws that delegate to local governments primary responsibility for decision-making in the land use field. Theories of federalism, regionalism, states’ rights, and localism are studied, as are the cases that provide a foundation in regulatory takings and the legitimate scope of land use regulation. The history of the delegation of planning and land use authority to local governments is traced, leading to an examination of local land use practices particularly as they relate to controlling development in and around watershed areas as well as regulatory response to sea-level rise and climate change. Students engage in empirical research working to identify, catalog, and evaluate innovative local laws that successfully protect environmental functions and natural resources, and the manner in which towns, particularly on the coast, incorporate climate change into their planning and regulations. Nearby watersheds are used as a context for the students’ understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of local planning and regulation. Attention is paid, in detail, to how the development of the land adversely affects natural resources and how these impacts can be mitigated through local planning and subsequent adoption of environmental regulations and regulations designed to promote sustainable development in a climate-changing world. The course includes examination of the state and local response to climate change, sea-level rise, growth management, alternatives to Euclidean zoning, low-impact development, brownfields redevelopment, energy conservation, and innovative land use strategies.

F&ES 869

Disaster, Degradation, Dystopia: Social Science Approaches to Environmental Perturbation and Change
Michael Dove
This is an advanced seminar on the long tradition of social science scholarship on environmental perturbation and natural disasters, the relevance of which has been heightened by the current global attention to climate change. The course is divided into three main sections. The first consists of central questions and debates in the field: social dimensions of natural disasters; the discursive dimensions of environmental degradation, focusing on deforestation; and the current debate about the relationship between resource wealth and political conflict, focusing on the “green war” thesis. The second focuses on anthropological and interdisciplinary approaches to climate change and related topics, encompassing canonical anthropological work on flood and drought; cyclones, El Niño, and interannual cycles; ethno-ecology; and risk. Additional lectures focus on interdisciplinary work. The final section consists of the classroom presentation of work by the students. Prerequisite: F&ES 520 or F&ES 839.

F&ES 983

Water Resource Science and Management
Gaboury Benoit
This course is designed as the preferred option to fulfill the requirement of a capstone course within the M.E.M. specialization in Water Resource Science and Management. Students work under the instructor’s direction, with advice from other water faculty, to develop management plans or other guidance documents supported by new or existing applied research. Students are trained in research methods so that they have useful background knowledge that will be essential in their future management careers. Topics emphasize real-world, interdisciplinary problems with possible immediate application.

G&G 830

The Geochemistry of Earth’s Past Climates
This seminar focuses on advanced topics in climate science from a geochemical perspective. We cover intervals from Deep Time to the Anthropocene. Meetings are for two hours, once a week, and are organized around readings from the primary research literature. Undergraduates require permission from the instructor. Enrollment limited to twelve.


Courses Open to Both Graduate and Undergraduate Students

AMST 236 / HIST 199 / EVST 318 / HSHM 207 / F&ES 583

American Energy History
Paul Sabin
The history of energy in the United States from early hydropower and coal to present-day hydraulic fracturing, deepwater oil, wind, and solar. Topics include energy transitions and technological change; energy and democracy; environmental justice and public health; corporate power and monopoly control; electricity and popular culture; labor struggles; the global quest for oil; changing national energy policies; the climate crisis.

ANTH 473 / ANTH 773 / ARCG 473 / EVST 473

Abrupt Climate Change & Societal Collapse
Harvey Weiss
The coincidence of societal collapses throughout history with decadal and century-scale abrupt climate change events. Challenges to anthropological and historical paradigms of cultural adaptation and resilience. Examination of archaeological and historical records and high-resolution sets of paleoclimate proxies.

EPH 555

Practicum in Climate Change, Sustainability, and Public Health
Robert Dubrow
In this course, interdisciplinary student teams carry out applied public health research or practical projects in the area of climate change, sustainability, and public health. Each team works with a sponsoring organization (e.g., unit within Yale, local health department, state agency, community organization, other nongovernmental organization). Students apply for entry into the course in the fall. Admitted students join one of the student teams, which implement their projects during the spring term. The course affords the opportunity to apply concepts and competencies learned in the classroom to this important area of climate change, sustainability, and public health. This course is one of the options available to students to fulfill the practice requirement for the M.P.H. degree.

F&ES 768 / EVST 251

Pests, Pathogens & Parasites
Lisa S Comita
This course is about the hidden but immensely important role that small, opportunistic organisms play in the ecosystems all around us. While pests, parasites, and pathogens receive plenty of rightful attention regarding their direct impact on human health, we offer an ecological perspective on the myriad underappreciated ways they influence both natural and managed ecosystems, are affected themselves by our impacts on the environment, and thus affect our lives. A sample of questions we ask and explore include: Can pathogens explain why tropical forests are so diverse? How is a loss in biodiversity related to an uptick in Lyme disease? How will a changing climate affect disease transmission in wildlife and livestock? How do invasive insect herbivores impact carbon emissions from forests in the US?

Undergraduate Courses

APHY 100 / ENAS 100 / EVST 100 / G&G 105 / PHYS 100

Energy Technology and Society
Daniel E Prober, Julie Paquette, Michael Oristaglio
The technology and use of energy. Impacts on the environment, climate, security, and economy. Application of scientific reasoning and quantitative analysis. Intended for non-science majors with strong backgrounds in math and science.

EP&E 497 / EVST 247 / PLSC 219

Politics of the Environment
Peter Swenson
Historical and contemporary politics aimed at regulating human behavior to limit damage to the environment. Goals, strategies, successes, and failures of movements, organizations, corporations, scientists, and politicians in conflicts over environmental policy. Focus on politics in the U.S., including the role of public opinion; attention to international regulatory efforts, especially with regard to climate change.

G&G 216

Global Warming: Climate Physics
John Wettlaufer
Lectures on the basics of global warming and presentations and discussions of some of the classic papers that combined have led to our current understanding of global warming. The knowns and the unknowns of global warming; the paper trail of cutting-edge climate science through time, from the late 1800s to the present. Recommended preparation: basic calculus and physics.

rev. 01.23.2018
The Healthy Pizza Project

A Healthy, Sustainable Pizza

Pizza is ubiquitous, especially in New Haven. A favorite food at lunchtime meetings and seminars and at other Yale events, pizza is high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium, and also has a high greenhouse gas footprint. A group of students in Professor Robert Dubrow's Climate Change and Health Practicum worked to develop a pie that is healthier and has a lower greenhouse gas footprint. After performing nutrient, carbon footprint, and cost analyses on a range of pizza recipes, their final message for ordering pizza from local vendors was simple: avoid meat toppings, order vegetable toppings, and ask that the cheese be cut in half. Download the field action report.