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Crawford School of Public Policy

Environmental and Resource Economics for non-economists

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Australia faces serious challenges in the form of local, national and global environmental problems and in sustainably managing the Country’s resources. This course will teach you how economic approaches can be used to improve the management of valuable, but often under-priced, environmental assets. The convenor will share insights into how economic ideas for environmental and resource management can be successfully communicated to policymakers, stakeholders, and the public. The day involves highly interactive learning and case studies from Australia and overseas. This course will boost your capacity to be involved in designing and communicating environmental policies. A special focus will be placed on policies for improving environmental outcomes in the energy sector.

Course overview

Australia faces serious challenges in the form of local, national, and global environmental problems and in sustainably managing important resources such as fish stocks and fresh water. Economics provides an important framework to understand the causes of these challenges and the best policy approaches for addressing them.

In this course, Dr Paul Burke will show how economic approaches can be used to better manage our natural environment. You will learn how environmental policy goals can be achieved in a cost-effective manner if the appropriate policy settings are put in place.

The course will cover issues in the design of conservation policies and the successful use of economic approaches in managing greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution, biodiversity, salinity, and key resources such as fisheries. The economic concepts of market failure, externalities, public goods, and market-based instruments will be covered. The course will also review how ideas from the field of behavioural economics can be incorporated into environmental policy.

Learning outcomes

  • Develop an improved understanding of applying economic approaches to environmental and resource problems. This can be used for better design of environmental policies, and better private-sector adaptation to existing policies.
  • Improved capacity in communicating economic ideas related to management of the environment and natural resources.

Who should attend

The course is designed as a foundational course and is therefore recommended for APS1-6 or equivalent. Participants with little knowledge about resource economics may also find it beneficial.


Paul Burke is an economist focusing on energy, the environment, transport, and developing countries, particularly in the Asia Pacific. Paul has published in journals including American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, Economic Inquiry, Nature Geoscience, Nature Climate Change, and Global Enviro...
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