Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP)
"STEP students explore the relation between scientific and technological understanding on the one hand, and public policy on the other. It's a two-way street since scientific understanding should form an important part of the basis of effective public policy, and public policy has a strong influence over the development and application of science and technology. Special attention is afforded to areas of current global concern, including weapons of mass destruction, genetic modification, climate change, biodiversity, global air pollution, environmental economics, and patterns of disease."
Faculty Chair, Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy;
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs;
Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy
Science and technology and the environment are now essential elements in public affairs. They affect policymaking in areas such as defense, energy, the environment, and basic research and development. Students are encouraged to work closely with distinguished STEP faculty to integrate their science and policy areas of interest. Faculty interests are broad and far-reaching. Students can focus on the problems of global climate change; global and regional air pollution; ecology, ecosystems, and biodiversity; science and global security; the ethics of biotechnology; health, population, and disease; and environmental economics, to name just a few.
The STEP Certificate program imparts an overview of issues such as the ethical dilemmas created by new technologies, the role of government in fostering technical or environmental change for economic development, and the interactions of scientific expertise and political decision making in conditions of uncertainty. It also introduces a set of methods including risk analysis, technology assessment, and the use of science-based modeling for policy analysis. It encourages each student to acquire a sophisticated understanding of a key issue in the field of science and policy.
To earn the certificate, candidates must complete four STEP-approved courses (most of which are taught by STEP core or associated faculty) and an advanced policy research paper. It is expected that most M.P.A. and M.P.P. candidates will write the policy paper in the context of one of those courses; papers receiving a grade of B+ or above will be eligible to satisfy this requirement. Recent course offerings include: WWS 556d Protection Against Weapons of Mass Destruction, WWS 582b Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, WWS 582e Energy Economics, WWS 585b Living in a Greenhouse: Technology and Policy, WWS 586a Biotechnology Policy, WWS 586d Global Environmental Governance, and WWS 586f Information Technology and Public Policy. The other course(s) may be a non-STEP course in WWS or another department pertinent to STEP, with special permission from the STEP director; or under exceptional circumstances, a reading course with a STEP faculty member.