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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Environmental Policy and Planning
—Considering environmental issues from the perspective of policy—

Mr. Satoshi Yokoyama
4th Year Student of School of Science and Engineering

Environmental issues. Hardly a day passes without this phrase being used in newspapers or news programs. Newspapers are filled with headlines regarding the proposed 25% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, the COP15 conference, and the spread of electric automobiles. Such headlines have led us to refuse plastic bags at checkout counters and to worry about the temperature setting of our air conditioners. Policy always exists in the background of such events.

One thing is certain—environmental issues are experiencing a boom. However, to be honest, I don't have such feelings regarding the environment. I decided to take this course in the hope that I could develop such feelings through a discussion of policies which affect me.

In this article, I will discuss what I felt upon actually taking the course, and I will entrust the syllabus with giving a general course overview. By taking this course, I learned that there are a variety of approaches towards the environment. In addition to environmental regulations, there are a variety of other economic policies such as charges and subsidies. Such economic policies promote the environmental conservation activities of corporations through the disclosure of information. Students study these kinds of policies during class and apply the acquired knowledge in order to solve practical exercises. For me, the practical exercises were the best part of the class. One example is the policies applied to nano-technology. Although there are great expectations towards the value of nano-technology, the safety of the field has not yet been sufficiently confirmed. Therefore, a variety of perspectives are necessary for examining the field. For example, how should policy be formulated during the current stage? What should be done if the technology is shown to have environmental impact? Such questions cannot be answered simply by using information memorized in class. Rather, it is necessary to consider the questions by utilizing acquired knowledge. This kind of approach is truly a “game of thought”. It is also possible for students to verify their ideas while listening to the explanations given by Professor Murayama. These proceedings make for a very interesting class.

On a final note, this course may be slightly difficult to approach for students who lack interest in environmental issues. However, it is my hope that such uninterested students will benefit by taking the course. This class provides an opportunity for all students to consider the necessity of environmental policy.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)