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Special Feature: The Power of Surprise in Teaching Environmental Policy Analysis: Case Studies of Innovative Responses to Environmental Challenges

Krister Andersson, The Notre Dame Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, USA
Christina Boyes, Assistant Professor of Politics, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico

This special feature brings together case studies in environmental policy from around the globe and across levels of policy decision-making to provide students, practitioners, and researchers with a clearly illustrated and easy-to-understand tool for examining policy choices and associated outcomes. The special feature has three goals. First, to create a resource for instructors who are interested in using active learning methods to teach a social-environmental systems framework approach to environmental policy. Second, to provide scholars with numerous cases that demonstrate the complexity of environmental policy problems and their solutions. The third goal is to provide scholars with examples of tangible change, progress, and failures associated with public policy solutions to environmental problems using a common analytical framework.

The special feature provides case studies that can be used as the basis for engaged discussion in the classroom. Instruction based on case studies can be a powerful tool for instructors seeking to include more active learning, both online and in person. In addition to the case studies, the editors provide a framework for pedagogical use. The framework draws on commonalities between specific types of environmental policy problems to help students and novice practitioners identify potential, context-dependent solutions to policy problems. The framework provides a clear set of questions in a decision tree for practitioners and researchers to consider before engaging in environmental policy interventions, resulting in a simple to use linear guide for navigating a nonlinear world. Furthermore, the framework is a useful tool for identifying under which circumstances government intervention is helpful or harmful in addressing environmental policy problems and under which circumstances local initiatives may be most effective.

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