February: my crazy teaching month

I’m having a crazy week of teaching this week. I’m teaching two lectures on fisheries economics tomorrow; an R practical in fisheries economic modelling and a lecture on dynamic programming on Wednesday; and a practical in dynamic programming in R and a lecture on ecosystems complexity on Thursday. Meanwhile I’ll be hosting a guest lecture on Wednesday (a speaker from Shell on energy policy) and on Friday (a speaker from Statistics Netherlands on environmental statistics). Next week I’m teaching two lectures on green national accounting, one on fisheries economics (different course), one on cost-benefit analysis, and hosting another two guest lectures.

It’s like this every year, but I enjoy it as much as it is exhausting. February is a very short teaching term at my university (don’t get me started on the merits, or lack thereof, of our academic calendar), where students are supposed to study one course, full time, in three to four weeks. I contribute to two courses in this term: one MSc course about natural resource economics and one at BSc level where we present six current topics in environmental economic policy from the viewpoint of academics and that of the real world. In the first course I get to tell students all about the topics I deal with most of my research time (fisheries economics, dynamic optimisation, ecosystem management); in the second course I can invite speakers to discuss the nitty-gritty of environmental policy-making with students. What’s not to like?
By the way, in addition to the R practical I revised my introductory text on dynamic programming after seeing how it worked at last year’s practical (not at all). As always, comments are welcome.

Two draft course documents

What do you do when you need only one chapter of Perman et al., or Tietenberg, but you can’t reasonably ask your students to buy the whole book? You either distribute illegal copies, or you write the text yourself. Of course I’m a decent guy so I just posted two draft texts on my WUR website:

A very basic introduction to Stochastic Dynamic Programming
This is a text that I prepared last year for my lecture on stochastic dynamic programming in a course on the economics of natural resources. Dynamic Programming is one of the more elegant ways of presenting the problem of natural resource depletion: how much should we harvest now, and how much should we save for later? The problem is that most introductory texts in natural resource economics say little about DP, whereas the specialized texts on DP are too difficult technical.

Market failure and natural resource depletion
I co-teach a course on marine resource management where I explain the basic principles of natural resource economics to MSc students with almost no economic background. I have not yet found a text that explains natural resource economics in an accessible manner to this audience. So far this document only features the basics of supply, demand, consumer surplus, and producer surplus, but I intend to extend it in the near future.

Feel free to download, use, comment, etc.