ECON 3545 Environmental Economics

Instructor Contact:

Sara Avila, PhD


About the Course:

Economics has been central as a cause of natural resource degradation and it is also at the core of the solution to most environmental problems.  A central goal of this course is to develop insight as to how humans manage natural resources and why.  Once we understand incentives, then we can propose policies aiming at the conservation of natural resources. We will focus on understanding a list of the core concepts that do most of the heavy lifting in environmental economics.  Students will have the opportunity to apply their new knowledge toward understanding current environmental problems.

Course Prerequisites:

Requires prerequisite course of ECON 2010 (minimum grade C-). Economic (ECON) majors are restricted from taking this course. ECON minors are allowed to enroll.


This course requires proctored examinations. Exams are proctored, which will require planning on your part. Proctors are individuals who administer the exam process following the guidelines provided by the University of Colorado Boulder to ensure academic integrity. Some proctoring options require the student to pay a fee.


By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Identify environmental problems, emphasizing the optimal role for public policy relative to market efficiency.
  • Determine what information is required, and what economic tool can be the best alternative to address an environmental problem.
  • Explain the building blocks and tools of environmental economics so that you can comprehend the research in environmental economic texts and articles.
  • Concisely and effectively communicate environmental economics findings and recommendations to policymakers.

Required Texts:

Introduction to Environmental Economics, 3rd edition. By Nick Hanley, Jason Shogren, and Ben White.  ISBN: 9780192522399 (paperback) or eISBN: 9780192522399 (ebook).

Grading (out of 1000 points):

  • Paper (200 POINTS) – There will be one individual written writing assignment. This assignment should be 3 pages in length (2 pages of content and 1 page of resources), single-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font, 1” margins. This writing assignment requires a preliminary one-page proposal. The paper should relate to an environmental policy issue and must answer: How can economics inform public policy related to this issue? This is a document that could be handed to policymakers and that educates them about an issue and argues for a policy position. There will be one on one meeting with the professor. Students must submit a one-page proposal the day before the meeting.
  • Discussion postings (160 POINTS) – There will be 20-point discussion postings associated with most modules. The discussion will occur asynchronously; the instructor will post a discussion question and you will respond to the questions at your convenience prior to the due date.
  • Exercises (140 POINTS) – There will be 20-point exercises associated with most modules.  Exercises will consist of longer, quantitative questions where you will need to show your work. The lowest one (1) exercise will be dropped from the final grade calculation.
  • Quizzes (100 POINTS) –There will be quizzes associated with most modules each worth 20 points. The format of the quizzes will be multiple-choice, calculations, and short answers. The lowest one (1) quiz will be dropped from the final grade calculation.
  • Exams (400 POINTS) – There will be two (2) exams. The proctored midterm exam is worth 150 points and the proctored cumulative final exam is worth 250 points. The format of the exam will be closed book, with multiple choice and calculations.

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search Buff Portal and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado