Current Courses for Certificate Credit

STEP has created a simplified nomenclature to assist you in determining whether a course can receive Certificate credit. We divide courses into three groups: Core (C), Science (S), and other courses by individual petition.

Core Courses:

We separate core courses into graduate and undergraduate lists. Graduate courses are approved for certificate credit on a pre-certified basis. Undergraduate courses on the approved list may receive certificate credit provided they have the approval of their instructor to add a short policy paper to their assignments and a member of the STEP faculty willing to read and grade the paper.

*Note: Beginning Sept 1st 2017, two courses from the approved list will be required of all WWS MPA/MPP certificate applicants as part of their 4 course requirement. And, one such course will be required of all other applicants, STEP-PEI and independent departmental PHD’s, as part of their three course requirement.

Science Courses:

These courses can be either graduate (500) or undergraduate (300 or 400) level. The purpose of a science course is to introduce students who lack a science background to a scientific form of inquiry within a specific subject matter area. This option is not open to PhD science and engineering students as the bulk of their coursework will have served this function already.

A science course requires the prior permission of the STEP director to receive certificate credit.

*Please note STEP will allow one undergraduate level course in science or engineering to count for Certificate credit. Generally, undergraduate level courses (300 or 400 level) can receive certificate credit only with prior consultation of the STEP director and the course professor regarding extra work to be added to the course requirements such as an advanced policy paper.

Courses by individual petition: 

STEP allows for students to suggest courses not on its list for certificate approval.

Credit for such courses requires a prior consultation with the STEP director for course relevance, course level and focus of assignments. For level, a course must meet graduate level requirements and may need modification of papers and other course elements to do so. For focus, course work, especially course papers, should incorporate strongly an approved STEP theme and be formulated in consultation with the STEP director in order to receive credit.

Fall 2018 Courses List
(The courses below are pre-approved for certificate credit and considered "core" for Fall 2018)

Graduate level

Fall 2018-2019
WWS 527C
  Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Topics in Domestic Policy Analysis - Public Management in the Digital Technology Age
Steven Strauss

Big data, social media, the internet; digital technology, is changing the nature of government and leadership in democratic societies. This course introduces students of government to the ramifications of digital technology, and its technical concepts and infrastructure. This course emphasizes how the changing technological landscape can drive performance improvement and innovation in government. We discuss what digital technology means for leaders in the public sector, and how its potential can be better used to serve the public. The course relies on the case study method.

Fall 2018-2019
WWS 550
  Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Topics in Economics - Energy Economics
Amy B. Craft

Examines the economics behind many issues related to energy use, including the investment and use of renewable and non-renewable resources, energy conservation, deregulation of energy markets, transportation, and energy independence. Current policy options will be discussed.

Fall 2018-2019
WWS 591D   No Pass/D/Fail
Policy Workshop - US Relations With North Korea
Leon V. Sigal

Frank N. von Hippel


The U.S. and North Korea are at a dangerous juncture with North Korea acquiring a nuclear deterrent and the U.S. seriously considering a preemptive attack that could result in a second Korean War with more than a million casualties and the first use of nuclear weapons since 1945. The policy workshop would try to make credible an alternative diplomatic path forward, learning from past negotiations with North Korea and testing its ideas in interviews with policymakers in Seoul and Tokyo and with officials at North Korea's UN Mission.

Fall 2018-2019
WWS 593N
  Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term) - GIS for Public Policy
William G. Guthe

Tsering W. Shawa


This course is designed as a practical introduction to the use of computer mapping (Geographic Information systems) for policy analysis and decision-making. Students learn ArcGIS through examples of map applications. Students are expected to complete exercises and a final project applying GIS to a policy issue.

Fall 2018-2019
WWS 594R
  Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term) - Behavioral Science in Environmental Policy
Elke U. Weber

Even though numerous influential reports call for earlier and better integration of behavioral science theory and insights into the policy process, the reality is that disciplines other than economics and the law have had little or no influence on the design or implementation of environmental or technology policy. We review reasons and consequences for this failure and examine paths towards better future integration.

Fall 2018-2019
SOC 557   P/D/F Only
Technology Studies (Half-Term)
Janet A. Vertesi

This half-semester graduate course introduces you to basic concepts, theoretical frameworks, and empirical studies in the sociology of technology. The course draws largely on science and technology studies, a hybrid field with tools optimized for the study of science and technology in social context; it also draws related materials from recent literature in the sociology of work, technology and organizations, media studies, anthropology, and communication.

Fall 2018-2019
ARC 519   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Climate Change, Adaptation and Urban Design
Guy J.P. Nordenson

Climate change adaptation is a pressing and difficult challenge to urban design, ecological and engineering planning theory and practice. It is clear that architects, planners, engineers and designers have an important role to help cities contend with climate adaptation. This seminar reviews the general state of science and practice of climate change and adaptation with a primary focus on the United States. It looks to the work of Frederick Law Olmsted for some of the theoretical basis of developing an approach to climate adaptation that is democratic and progressive and evaluate the impediments which restrict change.

Undergraduate level

Fall 2018-2019
* ENV 405 (SA)   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
The Land Crisis for Food, Climate and Wildlife
Timothy D. Searchinger

People have plowed up, cut-down and otherwise heavily manipulated more than 75% of the world's land, causing one third of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and most of the world's loss of biodiversity. Deforestation rates in the tropics remain high. In the next 30 years, the world is on a path to convert substantially more land area to meet rising demands for food, wood, urban expansion and bioenergy. This course will explore the scope of the land use challenge and explore possible solutions. Students will contribute to the class with oral presentations, including a major presentation linked to a final class paper

Fall 2018-2019
CEE 334 / WWS 452 / ENV 334 / ENE 334
(STN)   na, npdf
Global Environmental Issues
Denise L. Mauzerall

This course examines a set of global environmental issues including population growth, ozone layer depletion, climate change, air pollution, the environmental consequences of energy supply and demand decisions and sustainable development. It provides an overview of the scientific basis for these problems and examines past, present and possible future policy responses. Individual projects, presentations, and problem sets are included.

Fall 2018-2019
ENV 304 / ECO 328 / EEB 304 / WWS 455
(STN)   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Disease Ecology, Economics, and Policy
Bryan T. Grenfell

The dynamics of the emergence and spread of disease arise from a complex interplay between disease ecology, economics, and human behavior. Lectures will provide an introduction to complementarities between economic and epidemiological approaches to understanding the emergence, spread, and control of infectious diseases. The course will cover topics such as drug-resistance in bacterial and parasitic infections, individual incentives to vaccinate, the role of information in the transmission of infectious diseases, and the evolution of social norms in healthcare practices.

Fall 2018-2019
* WWS 306 / ECO 329 / ENV 319
(SA)   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Environmental Economics
Smita B. Brunnermeier

Course introduces use of economics in understanding both the sources of and the remedies to environmental and resource allocation problems. It emphasizes the re-occurrence of economic phenomena like public goods, externalities, market failure and imperfect information. Students learn about the design and evaluation of environmental policy instruments, the political economy of environmental policy, and the valuation of environmental and natural resource services. The concepts are illustrated in a variety of applications from domestic pollution of air, water and land to international issues such as global warming and sustainable development.

Fall 2018-2019
* WWS 352 / COS 352 (SA)   No Audit (added to list on Sept 12, 2018)
Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy
Edward W. Felten

This course surveys Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its policy implications. Technology topics include a history of the field; evolving conceptions of machine intelligence; and the current state of the technology. Policy topics include the economic effects of AI; regulatory policy; automated vehicles; autonomous aircraft; ensuring fairness, governance, and control; the role of AI in public decision making; national security implications, including autonomous weapons; cybersecurity; and the long-term future of AI. This course is suitable for students of all backgrounds; not technical knowledge is assumed.

Fall 2018-2019
* WWS 354 / GHP 354
(SA)   na, npdf
Modern Genetics and Public Policy
Shirley M. Tilghman

Examines modern genetics' implications for public policy focusing on health, law, consumer products, and criminal justice. Topics include: eugenics; gene patenting; gene therapy; FDA consumer regulations of genetic testing; genetic discrimination; forensic use of DNA; and genome editing. Explores social, political, and philosophical problems that modern genetics pose in areas such as the changing conceptions of the self; genetic enhancement vs. therapy; genetic nature of race; new theories of gene action in epigenetics; genetically modified plants and animals; and genetic privacy.

Fall 2018-2019
* EEB 308 (STN)   No Pass/D/Fail
Conservation Biology
David S. Wilcove

Students will use ecological principles and policy analysis to examine conflicts between human activities such as farming, forestry, and infrastructure development, and the conservation of species and ecosystem services. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

In Fall 2018, the course will include an optional field trip to Florida for the duration of Fall break.

Fall 2018-2019
* SOC 346 (SA)   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Sociology of the Cubicle: Work, Technology, and Organization
Janet A. Vertesi

This course focuses on technology in organizations to explore classic and contemporary issues in organizational sociology. We'll discuss entrepreneurship, engineering cultures, innovation, risk and failure in the context of the dot com boom, flat hierarchies, and how office technologies enter the workplace. As companies pick up, produce or respond to technological change, we'll witness and discuss some of the great questions and theories of social organization: what makes an organization tick, what makes certain social forms endure, and where does change come from?

Fall 2018-2019
* GEO 361 / ENV 361 / CEE 360 (STN)   Graded A-F, P/D/F, Audit
Earth's Atmosphere (*Science Course)
Stephan A. Fueglistaler

This course discusses the processes that control Earth's climate - and as such the habitability of Earth - with a focus on the atmosphere and the global hydrological cycle. The course balances overview lectures (also covering topics that have high media coverage like the 'Ozone hole' and 'Global warming', and the impact of volcanoes on climate) with selected in-depth analyses. The lectures are complemented with homework based on real data, demonstrating basic data analysis techniques employed in climate sciences.