Syllabuzz – ECO: 3231 Markets and Environmental Justice

Assistant Professor of Economics Brooks Depro guides students through complex environmental problems in his Markets and Environmental Justice course.

After carefully crafting the curriculum from scratch and facilitating a successful Winter Term trial-run class, Assistant Professor of Economics Brooks Depro is excited to continue teaching ECO: 3231 Markets and Environmental Justice every other fall. The course uses a variety of perspectives to delve into complex environmental problems, such as unequal pollution exposure for marginalized communities.

Depro has two decades of experience in economic consulting and spent many years conducting research on the economics of environmental justice. The premise of environmental economics, he says, is to use an economist’s way of looking at behavior to try to understand and solve environmental problems. Through real-world applications, interdisciplinary readings and research projects, the class exposes students to the ever-growing array of topics that economists study.

Depro’s favorite aspect of Markets and Environmental Justice is the interdisciplinary approach applied throughout the course. “It allows me to think about the discipline I am trained in but also look at the blind spots economists have,” he says.

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During the course, students develop a plan to explore other Elon courses that examine environmental topics from a non-economics perspective to compare and contrast how different disciplines analyze complex issues. “Students understand where the differences lie in terms of assumptions and viewpoints,” Depro says.

Depro sees an opportunity for students to recognize environmental economics as a relevant topic that allows for critiquing assumptions economists often make. “It’s both self-critiquing the discipline but also applying it to an area many people do not think economists consider or study,” he says. His main goal is to provide a lens for economics students to think about environmental issues they might not be exposed to in a traditional bachelor-level setting.

Although Markets and Environmental Justice is a 300-level course, the only prerequisite is the intro-level economics course offered in Elon’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. This unique aspect allows students in any major who are interested in current environmental problems to learn about and dissect approaches to combating these issues.

Because the class is heavily application-based, Depro hopes students will take the practicum beyond the classroom and into the workplace and use it to guide future conversations and decisions surrounding environmental economics. “I want to make sure students understand economists’ arguments beyond a superficial level so they can more successfully state their concerns and challenge those arguments,” he says.

About the Professor

Brooks Depro joined Elon’s full-time faculty in 2017. His research focuses on environmental regulation, housing choices, environmental health risks and teaching economics. He currently serves as faculty adviser of Elon’s B.S.B.A. in Economic Consulting.

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“Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility,” by Dorceta E. Taylor