The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Environmental Policy

Smart and effective public policies are critical for responding to current and future environmental problems. SPP plays an important role on the UMass Amherst campus as an interdisciplinary hub for examining the causes and consequences of global environmental change, and for advancing sustainable policy solutions at both the national and international levels. SPP students have many opportunities for building expertise in environmental policy, including through the completion of internships at such organizations as Resources for the Future, the American Council on Renewable Energy and the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection.


SPP students achieve competence in the area of environmental policy by taking core courses that train them in policy development and administration. Graduate electives also are available throughout the UMass campus, including:

  • Social Conflict and Natural Resource Policy (environmental conservation)
  • Landscape and Memory (history)
  • Resource Policy and Planning (landscape architecture and regional planning)
  • International Environmental Politics (political science)
  • Spirit of Place (geography)
  • Environment and Resource Economics (resource economics)
  • People and the Environment (landscape architecture and regional planning)


As a land grant university and the flagship of the UMass system, UMass Amherst is especially committed to research leadership in the field of sustainability and environmental policy. Examples of SPP faculty conducting research in environmental policy include:

  • Michael Ash focuses on a range of issues related to environmental policy and justice. He is co-director of the Corporate Toxics Information Project, which identifies the top U.S. air polluters among the world's largest corporations.
  • Sylvia Brandt has studied U.S. fisheries, modeling competing regulatory approaches. Her current research bridges environmental epidemiology and health economics to examine the social costs of asthma diagnoses attributable to traffic exposure.
  • Krista Harper work on environmental justice movements confronts notions of how societies can and do address global inequalities. Her book Wild Capitalism: Environmental Activists and Post-Socialist Ecology in Hungary explores environmental issues in modern Europe.
  • John Hird focus on environmental policy has involved understanding the relationship of environmental contamination to the socioeconomic characteristics of affected communities and the ways policymakers address environmental risks.
  • Charles Schweik is an expert on the use of technology for analyzing the outcomes of natural resource policies and management. The city of Boston currently uses an online "carbon calculator" on which Schweik collaborated. In addition, Schweik has examined the effects of formal and informal rules on changing landscapes in the U.S. and Nepal.

Additional Environmental Policy Initiatives