Environmental Policy Processes

Environmental Policy Processes I, II & III: NTRES 4300, NTRES 4301, NTRES 4302

Apply by September 29, 2023: Students must register for 7-week fall course.

Enrollment in Environmental Policy Processes requires registration for fall, winter and spring semester course components listed consecutively as NTRES 4300, NTRES 4301 and NTRES 4302. The three-course sequence will begin midway through the fall semester and end midway through the spring semester, with an 11-day January course component in Washington DC.

Scheduling details

  • NTRES 4300 (0.5 credits, ungraded) – Fall semester, second 7-week session; first class meeting: October 11th at 7:30 p.m. (and consecutive Wednesday evenings)
  • NTRES 4301 (1.5 credits, ungraded) –  January 3–13, 2024 session in Washington, D.C.
  • NTRES 4302 (1 credit; grade provided for entire three-credit sequence) – Spring semester, first 7-week session; last class meeting: March 6 at 7:30 p.m.


The multi-semester course is limited to 20 students with preference given to seniors and juniors majoring in Environment & Sustainability, though others may apply. Individual course components cannot be taken without the full sequence. Applications and a recommendation from a faculty member are due via email to Bruce Lauber (TBL3 [at] cornell.edu) by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 29th, 2023. 


Hands-on learning for environmental policy processes

Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury holding a green sign that read "Climate Action Now" with others activists championing climate and environmental policy.

More information

This on-campus and off-campus course sequence focuses on how environmental policy issues move through the federal policy-making process. Students select an environmental policy topic during the 7-week fall semester session (NTRES 4300) for analysis during Washington D.C. January session (NTRES 4301). The DC session continues the course focus on contemporary environmental problems; how they are defined; aggregating interests; agenda-setting; formulating alternative solutions; implementation and evaluation; and roles of lobbyists, advocates, the legislative, executive, judicial branches of government, and other actors. DC activities also include organized meetings with policy makers, advocates and experts as guest panelists, and students set up individual meetings with policy actors who are working on their chosen environmental policy topics. The 7-week spring semester session (NTRES 4302) requires presenting an oral policy briefing and writing both short and long policy briefs based on the DC interviews and additional research.

Approximately $800 to pay for lodging and use of Cornell’s Wolpe Center (near Dupont Circle) during the January session in D.C.

Students who need financial assistance to participate in the course should contact Bruce Lauber (TBL3 [at] cornell.edu (TBL3[at]cornell[dot]edu)) for information about sources of funding that students have received in the past.

  • Students will be able to define what constitutes an environmental policy problem.
  • Students will be able to describe the stages of policymaking.
  • Students will be able to compare the ways that actors, institutions, and constraints interact to influence environmental policies.
  • Students will analyze specific case studies of environmental policy problems and efforts to address them.
  • Students will prepare and use notes from interviews with policymakers to summarize diverse perspectives regarding a contemporary environmental policy problem.
  • Students will evaluate, synthesize, and contrast sources of information in preparing an objective environmental policy analysis.