Summer 2018 - 89359 - PA f388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Summer 2018 - 89359 - PA f388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Public Health and the Environment: Science, Law, and Justice


 This course introduces students to legal and institutional frameworks that protect public health with a focus on toxic exposure, environmental sustainability, and environmental justice. We explore regulatory techniques for dealing with uncertain risk and opposing market forces and the tension between public health regulation and individual civil liberties, trade secrets, property rights, commercial free speech. 

We discuss the historic context and delve into recent events. We will discuss the legal system as it relates to climate change, the Flint Water Crisis, GMO’s, Monsanto’s weed killer, BPA and potentially dangerous substitutes, fracking chemical nondisclosure, water supply, atrazine and other hormone disrupting chemicals, hazardous air pollution and childhood leukemia, industry challenges to calorie disclosure and warnings on sugary drinks, and potentially dangerous health claims. 

Assignments include standard casebook excerpts, law review articles, recent news reporting, and documentary film. We will also read A Civil Action by Johnathon Harr, an award winning national bestseller, a true story of a courtroom showdown where two of the nation's largest corporations were accused of causing the deaths of children from water contamination.


Learning Objectives: 

 Understand the regulatory system governing environmental law and public health 

 Understand basic concepts of administrative law and standing to file a lawsuit 

 Understand the institutional framework that governs change 

 Understand roles and relationships between governmental entities and the judicial system. 

 Understand the importance of public involvement in shaping U.S. environmental law. 

 Develop critical thinking, analytical, and presentation skills 


Method of Evaluation: 

Class Participation: class discussion, presentation of cases and readings. (20%) 

Journal: outline of notes, reflection, and weekly review of a related news article or case (20%) 

Quizzes on rules of law (questions distributed in advance) (two, 20% each) 

Final Quiz (in class) with policy questions(s) (20%) 


This course is crosslisted with CRP f383.  CRP is home.

SUT 2.114
Course documents: