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The Role of Scientific Information in Environmental Decisions

Spring 2006

PbAf 595 / ENVIR 500
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-10:50
Balmer Hall Room 201


Dr. Amy Snover
KING 216 (Off campus at 4909 25th Avenue NE, right on the bike trail down by the U-Village. See map.)

Teaching Assisstant

Kristin Marshall
317C Fishery Sciences Building

Office Hours

Tuesdays & Thursdays: 11-12 (Parrington 207)
and by appointment.

Course Website


On This Page

Course Description

This course examines how science contributes to decisions that involve the natural environment: how science and scientists help frame debates and decisions; how scientific findings are incorporated into decision-making processes; how scientists and nonscientists deal with uncertainty about scientific questions. Illustrates the need for accurate representation and critical evaluation of scientific information.

Course Objectives


Readings will be assigned from the course text indicated below (Clemen), as well as handouts and journal articles (in the form of web links).

Note: The UW has a subscription to all of the journals and clearinghouses that are directly linked from the course website; downloads should be free from any on-campus computer (although in some cases you will need to register for access). Click here for information about connecting from off-campus. Other reading materials are made available via UW Electronic Reserves; access to these materials will require logging in with your UWnetID.

Textbook and Software

Making Hard Decisions: An Introduction to Decision Analysis (second edition) by R. T. Clemen, 1996, Pacific Grove, California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. ISBN: 0-534-26034-9 (called Clemen below).

The textbook is on reserve (for 4-hour loan) in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library (OUGL).

Treeplan decision tree software. Save this Microsoft Excel decision tree add-in by right-clicking on this link: TREEPLAN and selecting "Save target as..." to save it where you want. (Note: these instructions may vary slightly depending on the internet browser or operating system you are using.) After saving the add-in, use Tutorial 1 to learn how to open it in Excel and create a basic decision tree. Tutorial 2 goes through a more detailed demonstration of how to input values into decision trees.

Assignments & Expectations


Homework assignments 35%
In-class participation 10%
Exam 25%
Group project
(10% presentation, 20% paper)