HS200 - Environmental Studies

HS200 - Environmental Studies


Krishnan Narayanan, Ratikanta Panda, Raile Ziipao


Spring ‘20

Course Difficulty

Purely from the content perspective, one of the easiest and highly non-technical courses in the institute. Provides a very interesting and inter-disciplinary take at the environmental crisis.

Time Commitment Required

Nothing except reading the slides a couple of days before the exam.

Grading Policy and Statistics

Diabolical grading for a supposedly chill course.
18 AAs, 48 BBs, 70 BBs out of about 360 students.
The AA cutoff was 41/50, but thereon, grades changed at almost every other score, so a score of 32 would get you a CC. Most of the people got a BC or a CC.

Attendance Policy



HS101 would be a prerequisite

Evaluation Scheme

Just the final exam

Topics Covered in the Course

Economics (Krishnan Narayanan): Economy-environment linkages, micro-economic as well as macro-economic issues pertaining to the environment, development strategies, environmental policy, operationalising sustainable development, eco-domestic product, approaches to economic-ecological modelling, economic instruments for environmental protection (charges, taxes, subsidies, liability rules, performance bonds etc.), asymmetric information and moral hazard

Philosophy (Ratikanta Panda): Main branches of philosophy, environmental ethics, the revolt against nature, modern ethics, human-centrism, sanctity of life in Indian tradition, non-anthropocentrism

Sociology (Raile Ziipao): Nested sustainable development, post-sustainable development, environmental issues in the Indian context, values, equity and social justice, environmental injustice, conflict over resources, case studies of environmental movements and their social impact (Chipko, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Silent Valley, Plachimada, LG Polymers, how Japan survived environmental degradation, organic agriculture in Cuba), Tragedy of the Commons, stable common pool resource management

Teaching Style

A mix of recorded videos and live sessions.
Classes weren’t that useful for economics or philosophy since the professors would either read the slides or go off on a tangent. For sociology however, the slides were insufficient, so it was important to have gone through the lectures before the exam.

Feedback on Exams

The endsem was a 50 MCQ exam, with 2 hours provided. Questions were picked out from the slides, but were often worded in a very tricky manner, especially for the sociology part.
This caused very few students to score above 40.
Several questions, however, were picked straight off the endsem paper of the previous half-semester offering, so it may be a good idea to look at past papers.

References Used

For the sociology part, the professor provides some recommended reading. A question or two can be expected from there.

Other Remarks

For the philosophy part, the professor asked a lot of quotes straight off the slides, so you may want to memorize “who said what”.

HS 200 Review By: Aditya Iyengar