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- Programs & Concentrations
The University of Chicago offers several programs or concentrations in energy/environment for undergraduate, graduate and PhD students.
The Department of Economics and Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago will start offering three new PhD courses on Energy and Environmental Economics in academic year 2016-17. Energy and Environmental Economics (EEE) is a growing research field, owing to increasing interest in the area among researchers and policymakers. This increasing interest is creating strong demand for faculty among leading economics departments, policy schools, and business schools. In academic year 2016-2017, these three new courses can be combined to form a field in Public, Energy, and Environmental Economics. In subsequent years, EEE will be a standalone field, making the University of Chicago the first top economics department to offer a EEE PhD course sequence. This will be accomplished by leveraging faculty expertise in both the economics department and Harris.
The goal of the new University of Chicago program in Data Science for Energy and Environment Research is to train graduate students from geosciences, economics, computer science, public policy, and other programs in computational and data science techniques critical for modern science. This program is possible due to a $3 million award from the National Science Foundation’s Traineeship Grant program. The program consists of two key pieces: direct support for new PhD students and development of course offerings that are open to graduate students (masters and PhD) across the University of Chicago.
Chicago Harris and the Argonne National Laboratory have partnered to offer the Master of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policy. The broad objective of the program is to provide students with a solid foundation of the science underlying important environmental policy issues, and the applied learning opportunities to deepen their understanding of various subjects. The partnership with the Argonne National Laboratory will bring senior scientists and engineers to Chicago Harris as course instructors and provide students with applied research and internship opportunities. The curriculum will allow for students with limited exposure to the sciences, and students with established backgrounds in the sciences. The degree takes a balanced and holistic approach to policy analysis, focusing on the interrelatedness of environmental issues, such as energy, water, and natural resources, and their relationships with economic, social, technology and regulatory drivers.
The Abrams Environmental Law clinic attempts to solve some of the most pressing environmental problems throughout Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the Great Lakes region. On behalf of clients, the clinic challenges those who pollute illegally, fights for stricter permits, advocates for changes to regulations and laws, holds environmental agencies accountable, and develops innovative approaches for improving the environment. Through clinic participation, students learn substantive environmental law and procedures for addressing concerns through the courts or administrative tribunals. Students develop a number of core advocacy competencies, such as counseling clients, spotting issues, conducting factual investigations, performing practical legal research, advocating through written and oral communications, planning cases, managing time, and addressing ethical issues and dilemmas. In addition, students develop an appreciation for the range of strategic and tactical approaches that effective advocates use. Some matters will be best resolved in front of a judge, others in an adversarial hearing, others through face-to-face meetings with government officials, and others by putting public pressure on a polluter or administrative agency. Any given matter may require the use of one or more of these approaches simultaneously or sequentially, although in general, the clinic will deploy adversarial approaches to help achieve its clients’ objectives.
The undergraduate major is housed in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division and emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to environmental issues incorporating models and methods from the humanities, social and natural sciences. The program is designed to be complementary to the Environmental Sciences BA/BS program although students in environmental studies will complete basic course work in both the natural sciences and quantitative analyses as a foundation for studying environmental questions. The curriculum is organized around several elements, including a common introductory sequence required of all majors, focused course work in three broadly conceived thematic tracks, a required thesis, and a required internship or field studies component. A minor concentration is also an option for students interested in pursuing coursework in Environmental Studies. The new location of Environmental Studies within the Program on the Global Environment integrates graduate and faculty research and teaching with undergraduate education and enables new and fruitful collaborations and activities in this critical area of research.
The Department of the Geophysical Sciences offers a BS degree in Environmental Science. The program is intended for students whose interests fall at the intersection of biology, chemistry, and earth sciences, and is designed to prepare them to enter a variety of interdisciplinary fields in the environmental sciences, including the interface of environmental science and public policy. Students are given the opportunity to study such topics as the biogeochemical cycles, environmental chemistry, microbiology, ecology, the chemistry and dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere, climate change, and environmentally relevant aspects of economics and policy. Students are encouraged to participate in the Semester in Environmental Science at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and undergraduate research is also strongly encouraged.