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PubPol 495-001

PubPol 495-001: Policy Seminar: Energy Policy

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Winter 2011
Credit Hours

Policy seminars are open only to undergraduates enrolled in the Ford School. These small, interdisciplinary courses will focus on particular public policy issues as reflected in the title of the course. They emphasize working in teams, writing, and oral prescription skills. The final product of each seminar will be an extensive policy analysis of the issues being studied, written for an audience of policy makers. In these seminars, students will apply the skills they learn in other courses and have opportunities to interact with policy makers and scholars who are experts on the issue being studied. From the regulation of Standard Oil in the 1890s to the current debates over climate change and carbon dioxide emissions, energy policy has long been a controversial issue in American politics and economics. This seminar will seek to understand what problems arise when an unregulated free market provides energy and how these problems create a need for effective energy policy. We will explore what optimal policies might look like and investigate the barriers to enacting such policies. Students will learn tools to evaluate the costs and benefits of past, current, and potential future energy policies, focusing on the assumptions behind these tools and the consequences when these assumptions are violated. In particular, this class will focus on policies that attempt to align private and social incentives such as cap-and-trade, pollution taxes, efficiency rebates and subsidies, and incentives for investment in clean energy.