Introduction to Environmental Planning


CRP 293, Env S 293, Dsn S 293                                                                   Fall 2004

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 – 10:50 a.m.                                           Sweeney 1134


Dr. Tara Lynne Clapp                                                          Email:

Office:  377 College of Design                                                   Phone:  515-294-7759


Office Hours:  Fridays 10:00 – 12:00, or by appointment

Please email to schedule if you need an appointment outside of office hours.


TA:  John McCurdy                                                           Email:

Course Outline and Learning Outcomes:

This course is intended as a broad introduction to the field of environmental planning in the United States. Environmental planning can be defined narrowly as the environmental management activities of the public sector, or more broadly as the set of things that citizens do together through governments, legal institutions and cooperative organizations that allow us to protect our shared resources. In this course we will focus on environmental planning in the community and regional context.


We will begin by surveying the territory of environmental planning and management:  who are the actors involved, and what do they do? And fundamentally, why do environmental planning? In reviewing the roles of citizens and local governments in land development and land use planning, we will consider the effect of action and inaction on our shared environment and ‘common goods.’


Some questions will recur and are fundamental to environmental planning:

-    Why should citizens and stakeholders participate in environmental planning?

-    Why should the government have a say in what people do on their land?

-    What might sustainable development look like?

-    Can environmental hazards and impacts be mitigated and controlled?

-    What are the roles of ethics, aesthetics and science in environmental planning?


While the field is complex in organization, policy, use of scientific information and (of course) moral arguments, as a student you will develop a focus on one case of interest (project) in order to organize your learning.


Learning outcomes:

At the end of this course, students should expect themselves to be able to:

a)      understand basic concepts in environmental planning, and the scope and relevance of environmental planning;

b)      investigate environmental planning at local, state and national scales;

c)      write a clear three page summary that effectively identifies main ideas and issues;

d)      use report format for professional reports;

Students should also expect improvement in the following skills:

a)      small group collaboration;

b)      presentation;

c)      problem formulation and research;

d)      citizenship capacity.


Required Text:

            Randolph, John.  2004.  Environmental Land Use and Management.  Washington: Island Press.

Brown, Lester A.  2001.  Eco-economy:  Building an economy for the earth.  Earth Policy Institute.  <> (not necessary to purchase, open access online):


Course Delivery and Student Responsibilities

Class time will be spent on lectures, discussions and group work.  Opportunities for spectatorship will be somewhat limited. Students are expected to attend classes prepared for the day’s activity.  This entails doing the readings and coming to class prepared with questions or issues to discuss.  The exercises are designed to assist in helping you to use the readings.



Participation is an expectation of the class.  Given the size of the class, large group discussions are difficult for everyone to participate in.  We will use small group discussions in addition to the group project and presentations so that everyone has the opportunity to actively engage with the material.  At the same time, I appreciate questions, arguments and discussion while I am presenting.  Unless there is some severe scheduling constraint, I usually welcome interruption. Please feel free to question, debate and disagree.


Course Readings and Quizzes:

In order to effectively participate in class, complete the exercises, and contribute to the group project, it is necessary to do the readings.  The schedule of readings will be posted on the WebCT site for this class.  You will be responsible for up to 50 pages of readings per week.  You should expect to spend about four or five hours of time per week preparing this class and doing the assignments outside of class time.  The materials in the readings may not all be covered in the lectures.  Your completion of the readings will be assessed through WebCT quizzes as well as demonstrated in the exercises and group projects.



There will be two individual written exercises during the term.  You will be asked to apply concepts from the readings and class sessions to activities and to do individual research.  You will be expected to identify main ideas and issues from readings. 


Exercises are due in class on the days designated in the schedule (posted on WebCT).  Exercises will not be accepted late or outside of class or in my mailbox or under the windshield wiper of my car without a documented excuse involving health, family emergency or other unforeseeable crisis.  (This does not include the need for more sleep unless prescribed by a doctor.) Exercises will be peer reviewed. 


Group Project, Presentation and Revisions:

Each group of 5 students will develop a report that proposes, explains and justifies an improvement in the water management of one local community. All groups will be working on the same general topic, different in specifics. Students are expected to use class materials and independent research to develop and justify their proposal. There will be some class time available for group work. Each group is expected to give a brief presentation of their proposal to the rest of the class. Drafts of he proposals are due early, so that groups will have a chance to revise/rework these reports with feedback from the instructor.


Student Evaluation:                                                   

            Participation (including in-class peer reviews)                 15 %

            WebCT Quizzes                                                            25 %

            Exercises                                                                       20 %

            Group Project Report and Presentation                          40 %

                        draft 10, presentation 15, final 10, group review 5.

Outline of Grading:

Superior Performance               95-100%         A

Exceeds Expectations               75-82%           B

Meets Expectations                  60-65%           C

Below Expectations                  45-55%           D

Well Below Expectations          0-44%             F



Miscellaneous Policies


Please don’t email me on matters that another student can help you with. Use the website for schedule information. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to try to find out what you missed that day, from another student.  Find a partner in the class, exchange emails, and agree to share notes on such occasions.  Try to find a partner that is as conscientious as yourself, you’ll be happier that way.


Please do email me if you have some exceptional circumstance and are unable to attend class when an assignment or exercise is due.  Exceptional circumstances include:  family emergencies, health emergencies, and some other kinds of emergencies.  Assignments due in class will not be accepted without a significant health- or family-related cause supported by documentation. I will not accept assignments handed in to my mailbox without documentation.


We follow university guidelines on academic honesty, grading and incompletes. Incompletes will not be given without significant health- or family-related emergency. Academic dishonesty will be dealt with according to University policy.  Please do not use the work of others without citation. If you are a CRP major, you will be expected to use the CRP style guide available on the Departmental website. If you are not a CRP major, you must use a consistent citation style.


Special Needs

Please address any special needs or special accommodations with me at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of your needs. Those seeking accommodations based on disabilities should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form from the Disability Resources (DR) office (515-294-6624). DR is located in 1076 Students Services Building.