Political Science (POLI) 325

Canadian Environmental Policy and Politics (Revision 3)

POLI 325 course cover

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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POLI 325 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Detailed Syllabus (PDF)

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This course considers, in some detail, how the environmental policy process in Canada works. Through your study of the material presented here, you should become familiar with Canadian environmental organizations and government structures, the courts’ interpretation of environmental legislation, and the historic development of, and changes associated with, the environmental movement in Canada and in North America.

The course will identify and evaluate some of the environmental policy tools that governments have used, or might use in the future. These policy tools include regulation, environmental assessment, and mediation (multi-stakeholder discussions and bargaining) as well as market–based tools such as environmental taxes and user fees, green products, environmental subsidies (to recycling, for example), and subsidy removals (from extractive industries or energy–inefficient modes of transportation, for example).

The study of environmental policy should also help to convey some understanding of the policy–making process as a whole, that is, how governments make decisions. Political Science 325 places environmental policy within selected, real–world examples of environmental decision making in Canada. It also considers some of the connections between environmental protection and issues such as urban planning, employment, and social equity, which governments must resolve or oversee in some way. Surprisingly, there are some close connections between environmental protection and each of these concerns. For example, urban planning virtually determines transportation patterns and systems, which, in turn, affect such things as air quality and habitat protection.


POLI 325 has five units. Each unit of study contains three lessons.

Unit 1: Environmental Values

  • Lesson 1: An Introduction to Environmental Values, Policy, and Politics
  • Lesson 2: Ecological Values and Environmental Quality Values
  • Lesson 3: Applied Sustainability

Unit 2: Environmental Institutions

  • Lesson 4: Green Parties and the Environmental Movement
  • Lesson 5: Environmental Administration in Canada
  • Lesson 6: Environmental Law and the Courts

Unit 3: Environmental Policy Tools

  • Lesson 7: Environmental Regulation: Strengths and Limitations
  • Lesson 8: Market-based Environmental Tools
  • Lesson 9: Tools of Analysis: From Risk Assessment to Sustainability Indicators

Unit 4: Case Studies in Environmental Policy

  • Lesson 10: Walkerton and Other Water Quality Concerns
  • Lesson 11: Kyoto: Ottawa Plot or Global Risk?
  • Lesson 12: Tar Sands Dilemma

Unit 5: Environmental Politics: From Cities and Neighbourhoods to Global Governance

  • Lesson 13: Localism, Federalism, and Ecological Scale
  • Lesson 14: Urban Form and Environmental Protection
  • Lesson 15: Trade and the Environment: The Trouble with Global Governance


To receive credit for POLI 325, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) and at least 50 percent on the final examination.

Internet Assignment Mid-Term Assignment Essay Assignment Final Exam Total
20% 20% 25% 35% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Boyd, David R. (2003). Unnatural Law: Rethinking Canadian Environmental Law and Policy. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Other Materials

Other materials, prepared by R. C. Pahelke of Trent University, include a Study Guide (2008), a Student Manual (2008), and a Reading File (2009).

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the POLI 325 challenge registration, you must complete all required components, and achieve an overall grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Written Assignment 1 Written Assignment 2 Written Assignment 3 Exam Total
10% 10% 10% 70% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, August 28, 2009.

View previous syllabus