Dr. Nicola Tynan, Economics and Policy Studies

Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment: Incorporating Local Examples

Nicola Tynan used her participation in Dickinson’s Valley and Ridge Program to enhance the role that Cumberland County’s environment and natural resources played in the economics curriculum related to sustainability. A core component was the design of an Economics of Natural Resources course; a course had not been taught by the department for over a decade.  The Program also proved useful for bringing local environmental issues more fully into the regularly offered Environmental Economics course and a first-year seminar on “Water: From Abundant Resource to Scarce Good.”

Most of the local sites visited in the Program are ones that subsequently featured as case studies or field trips in one of these courses. The Dickinson farm has served as a field site for discussions of alternatives forms of agriculture and solar power as a source of renewable energy. Water quality testing in the Yellow Breeches creek has connected agriculture to water quality; a visit to the water treatment plant complemented discussion of water quality regulation. Ideas for future semesters include a walk to the Molly Grub connected to readings on water quality and pollution or fisheries or a visit to the Reineman Sanctuary as a focal point of our discussion of forest resources, wildlife management and biodiversity preservation. In choosing their research topics, students are encouraged to consider local pollution and resources issues. Many have done so looking at issues of regional air quality, local policies to reduce carbon emissions, and agricultural pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.