590 Risk Regulation in the US, Europe and Beyond

Faced with myriad health, safety, environmental, security and financial risks, how should societies respond?  This course studies the regulation of a wide array of risks, such as disease, food, drugs, medical care, biotechnology, chemicals, automobiles, air travel, drinking water, air pollution, energy, climate change, finance, violence, terrorism, emerging technologies, and extreme catastrophic risks. (Students may propose to research other risks as well.)

Across these diverse contexts, the course focuses on how regulatory institutions deal with the challenges of risk assessment (technical expertise), risk perceptions (public concerns and values), priority-setting (which risks should be regulated most), risk management (including the debates over "precaution" versus benefit-cost analysis, and risk-risk tradeoffs such as countervailing harms and co-benefits), and ongoing evaluation.  It examines the rules and institutions for risk regulation, including the roles of legislative, executive, and judicial functions; oversight bodies (such as judicial review by courts, and executive review by US OMB/OIRA and the EU RSB); fragmentation and integration; and international cooperation.

The course examines these issues through a comparative approach to risk regulation in the United States, Europe, and other countries (especially those of interest to the students in the course each year).  It examines the divergence, convergence, and exchange of ideas across regulatory systems; the causes of these patterns; the consequences of regulatory choices; and how regulatory systems can learn to do better.

This is a research seminar, in which students discuss and debate in class (in person or online), while developing their own research.  We may also have some guest speakers.  Students' responsibilities in this course include active participation in class discussions, and writing a substantial research paper.  Students’ papers may take several approaches, such as analyzing a specific risk regulation; comparing regulation across countries; analyzing proposals to improve the regulatory system; or other related topics.

This course is cross-listed as ENV 733.01 and PUBPOL 891.01.  Graduate and professional students outside the Law School are welcome and should enroll via those course numbers.  (The Law School does not use “permission numbers.”)

Course Areas of Practice
Evaluation Methods
Research paper, 25+ pages
Class participation
Course Type
Seminar
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law
2020
Fall 2020
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

590.01 2
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation
Jonathan B. Wiener W 2:00 PM-3:50 PM

Faced with myriad health, safety, environmental, security and financial risks, how should societies respond?  This course studies the regulation of a wide array of risks, such as disease, food, drugs, medical care, biotechnology, chemicals, automobiles, air travel, drinking water, air pollution, energy, climate change, finance, violence, terrorism, emerging technologies, and extreme catastrophic risks. (Students may propose to research other risks as well.)

Across these diverse contexts, the course focuses on how regulatory institutions deal with the challenges of risk assessment (technical expertise), risk perceptions (public concerns and values), priority-setting (which risks should be regulated most), risk management (including the debates over "precaution" versus benefit-cost analysis, and risk-risk tradeoffs such as countervailing harms and co-benefits), and ongoing evaluation.  It examines the rules and institutions for risk regulation, including the roles of legislative, executive, and judicial functions; oversight bodies (such as judicial review by courts, and executive review by US OMB/OIRA and the EU RSB); fragmentation and integration; and international cooperation.

The course examines these issues through a comparative approach to risk regulation in the United States, Europe, and other countries (especially those of interest to the students in the course each year).  It examines the divergence, convergence, and exchange of ideas across regulatory systems; the causes of these patterns; the consequences of regulatory choices; and how regulatory systems can learn to do better.

This is a research seminar, in which students discuss and debate in class (in person or online), while developing their own research.  We may also have some guest speakers.  Students' responsibilities in this course include active participation in class discussions, and writing a substantial research paper.  Students’ papers may take several approaches, such as analyzing a specific risk regulation; comparing regulation across countries; analyzing proposals to improve the regulatory system; or other related topics.

This course is cross-listed as ENV 733.01 and PUBPOL 891.01.  Graduate and professional students outside the Law School are welcome and should enroll via those course numbers.  (The Law School does not use “permission numbers.”)

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2019
Fall 2019
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

590.01 2
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation
Jonathan B. Wiener W 2:00-3:50 PM 4044

This seminar pursues an advanced, integrated analysis of the law, science and economics of societies' efforts to assess and manage risks of harm to human health, safety, environment and security. The course will examine the regulation of a wide array of risks, such as those from food, drugs, medical care, automobiles, air travel, drinking water, air pollution, energy, climate change, finance, terrorism, emerging technologies, and extreme catastrophic risks (students may propose to research other risks as well). Across these diverse contexts, the course will explore the components of regulatory analysis: risk assessment, risk management (including the debate over "precaution" versus benefit-cost analysis), risk evaluations by experts vs. the public, and risk-risk tradeoffs.  And it will explore options for institutional design and structure, including the interrelated roles of legislative, executive, and judicial functions; delegation and oversight; fragmentation and integration; and international cooperation.

The course examines these issues through a comparative approach to risk regulation in the United States, Europe, and other countries.  These comparisons address topics including the choice of policy instruments, the selection of which risks to regulate, "precautionary" regulation, "better regulation" initiatives, regulatory impact assessment and regulatory oversight bodies, and others.   It examines the divergence, convergence, and exchange of ideas across regulatory systems; the causes of these patterns; the consequences of regulatory choices; and what regulatory systems can learn from each other.

Students' research papers in this seminar may analyze specific risk regulations; compare regulations, institutions or tools across countries; formulate and advocate original proposals to improve the regulatory state; or other related topics.

Syllabus: PDF icon 590.01.Fall2019-syllabus.pdf

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2018
Spring 2018
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

590.01 2
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation
Jonathan B. Wiener Th 4:00-5:50 PM 4055

This seminar pursues an advanced, integrated analysis of the law, science and economics of societies' efforts to assess and manage risks of harm to human health, safety, environment and security. The course will examine the regulation of a wide array of risks, such as those from food, drugs, medical care, automobiles, air travel, drinking water, air pollution, energy, climate change, finance, terrorism, emerging technologies, and extreme catastrophic risks (students may propose to research other risks as well). Across these diverse contexts, the course will explore the components of regulatory analysis: risk assessment, risk management (including the debate over "precaution" versus benefit-cost analysis), risk evaluations by experts vs. the public, and risk-risk tradeoffs.  And it will explore options for institutional design and structure, including the interrelated roles of legislative, executive, and judicial functions; delegation and oversight; fragmentation and integration; and international cooperation.

The course examines these issues through a comparative approach to risk regulation in the United States, Europe, and other countries.  These comparisons address topics including the choice of policy instruments, the selection of which risks to regulate, "precautionary" regulation, "better regulation" initiatives, regulatory impact assessment and regulatory oversight bodies, and others.   It examines the divergence, convergence, and exchange of ideas across regulatory systems; the causes of these patterns; the consequences of regulatory choices; and what regulatory systems can learn from each other.

Students' research papers in this seminar may analyze specific risk regulations; compare regulations, institutions or tools across countries; formulate and advocate original proposals to improve the regulatory state; or other related topics.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2017
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

590.01 2
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation
Jonathan B. Wiener W 3:45-5:35 PM 4055

This seminar pursues an advanced, integrated analysis of the law, science and economics of societies' efforts to assess and manage risks of harm to human health, safety, environment and security. The course will examine the regulation of a wide array of risks, such as those from food, drugs, medical care, automobiles, air travel, drinking water, air pollution, energy, climate change, finance, terrorism, emerging technologies, and extreme catastrophic risks (students may propose to research other risks as well). Across these diverse contexts, the course will explore the components of regulatory analysis: risk assessment, risk management (including the debate over "precaution" versus benefit-cost analysis), risk evaluations by experts vs. the public, and risk-risk tradeoffs.  And it will explore options for institutional design and structure, including the interrelated roles of legislative, executive, and judicial functions; delegation and oversight; fragmentation and integration; and international cooperation.

The course examines these issues through a comparative approach to risk regulation in the United States, Europe, and other countries.  These comparisons address topics including the choice of policy instruments, the selection of which risks to regulate, "precautionary" regulation, "better regulation" initiatives, regulatory impact assessment and regulatory oversight bodies, and others.   It examines the divergence, convergence, and exchange of ideas across regulatory systems; the causes of these patterns; the consequences of regulatory choices; and what regulatory systems can learn from each other.

Students' research papers in this seminar may analyze specific risk regulations; compare regulations, institutions or tools across countries; formulate and advocate original proposals to improve the regulatory state; or other related topics. Enrollment limited to 20.  2 credits.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2016
Spring 2016
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

590.01 2 Jonathan B. Wiener,

Lori Bennear, Ph.D.

W 3:45-5:35 PM 4045

This seminar pursues an advanced, integrated analysis of the law, science and economics of societies' efforts to assess and manage risks of harm to human health, safety, environment and security. The course will examine the regulation of a wide array of risks, such as those from food, drugs, medical care, automobiles, air travel, drinking water, air pollution, energy, climate change, finance, and terrorism (students may propose to research other risks as well). Across these diverse contexts, the course will explore the components of regulatory analysis: risk assessment, risk management (including the debate over "precaution" versus benefit-cost analysis), risk evaluations by experts vs. the public, and risk-risk tradeoffs.  And it will explore options for institutional design and structure, including the interrelated roles of legislative, executive, and judicial functions; delegation and oversight; fragmentation and integration; and international cooperation.

The course examines these issues through a comparative approach to risk regulation in the United States, Europe, and other countries.  These comparisons address topics including the choice of policy instruments, the selection of which risks to regulate, "precautionary" regulation, "better regulation" initiatives, regulatory impact assessment and regulatory oversight bodies, and others.   It examines the divergence, convergence, and exchange of ideas across regulatory systems; the causes of these patterns; the consequences of regulatory choices; and what regulatory systems can learn from each other.

Students' research papers in this seminar may analyze specific risk regulations; compare regulations, institutions or tools across countries; formulate and advocate original proposals to improve the regulatory state; or other related topics. Enrollment limited to 20.  2 credits.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.