Breath of Clarity

Environmental Policy Analysis- Class Introductions

Hi all,

I look forward to learning together during fall quarter!

I took a course called Public Policy as a student in the Bachelor’s of Political Science program at Colorado College. I remember being introduced Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and investigating its impact on the Clean Air Act. I also studied agenda-setting through the perspective of political streams presented by John Kingdon. Further, I studied Bryan Jones and Frank Baumgartner’s viewpoint on the mass media tone’s relationship to government agenda. Finally, I completed my final project about how minority discrimination against indigenous people leads to land mismanagement and inhibits beneficial healthcare reform. I was also a campaign intern for Environment Colorado. It involved generating petition signatures to protect state and national parks, as well as creating a coalition of small business owners to support President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. After that, I was a residential solar panel system consultant and relied on a 30% federal tax credit to show clients why the product I was selling made financial sense. The combination of my past experience enhances my interest in this course.

I am curious about the philosophy of environmentalism. I am wondering whether or not I completely agree with all its tenants and wish to evaluate how I am putting the principles into practice across my daily life. I am also intrigued by the degree to which science plays a role in policy-making, especially considering it may play a more significant role via certain avenues compared to others. Last quarter in Environmental Economics, after learning about cost-benefit analyses and thoroughly dissecting the Paris Agreement, I am interested in how theory from this course is going to put a new spin on the topics. I also hope to discuss U.S. Energy policies using updated, reputable online sources. Having selected the International Relations focus within my Political Science major, I look forward to diving into international decision-making venues at the end of this quarter.

Additional Questions and Answers:

What are the challenges of covering complex scientific issues in the media?

There are many challenges to covering complex scientific issues in the media. First of all, it is difficult to be in contact with all the people who have scientific data to contribute. There is a massive collection of individuals who have their hands in a single project. Secondarily, it is difficult to identify causation compared to correlation. Additionally, the media needs to create a dialect that simplifies scientific issues so the general public can understand it. As a result, crucial background information may not be mentioned and important details may get lost in the process. Moreover, media channels need to ensure they are profitable and make decisions accordingly. There is also the issue of safety in reporting as media groups can not put their employees at significant risk to capture content.

How would you describe the way the media covers environmental issues?

Media covers environmental issues to evoke emotional reaction. Environmental issues can be conveyed through the lens of human rights problems such as the case with the Dakota Access Pipeline. It can create anxiety and fear in the readers such as news about the fires in Northern California. Media presents a lot of coverage on few environmental issues rather than presenting a little bit of coverage on a wide array of environmental issues. It also encourages group think by portraying news from a particularly polarized viewpoint, usually inserting liberal ideals into its content. Overall, when the media covers environmental issues , it illustrates a conflict between supporting the planet and generating profit. It usually does not tell the factors which contributed to current conditions and blatantly tells the story in a way aligned with a targeted government agenda.

List your most important sources of information about the environment (e.g. which media outlets do you rely on, which social media sites do you go to, etc.).

I rely on government websites such as or in order to avoid biased. However, I also learned about the shortcomings of these sources in Environmental Protection Law. I go on jStor to access peer-reviewed articles within the past 7 years. Often times, there are also other quality articles from journals and universities. In my spare time, I go on LinkedIn to view news updates posted by environmental organizations I respect such as The Nature Conservancy or Rocky Mountain Institute.

What can the instructor do to make the course successful for you?

I value clear instructions. Particularly considering the course is online, I can complete the work efficiently in cases I am not confused about the directions. Otherwise, there is a delay in getting instructions clarified. I also appreciate instructors who are approachable because it supports my bravery in asking questions. I also am engaged in courses with interesting discussion prompts and supplementary reading/video materials.