All course information is listed within this syllabus.

EMGT 830: Ecosystem Management, Planning, and Economics (3 credits). A working knowledge of economic concepts and analytical tools is central to ecosystem management. The course provides students with a solid understanding of the key finance, planning, and economic principles needed to manage a variety of natural resources and ecosystems.

Prerequisites: None


Instructor for EMGT 830

Michael Jacobson
Professor of Forest Resources

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
309 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-3994
Office Hours: Use Canvas Inbox

Instructor for EMGT 830

Marc McDill
Professor of Forest Management

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
310 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-1602
Office Hours: Use Canvas Inbox

Course Overview

Making decisions as in ecosystem management requires a knowledge of economics and finance. Every ecosystem-management-related decision has an economic component whether it's direct or indirect. The course is divided into three parts. The first part of the course discusses cost-benefit analysis from a financial perspective. Cost-benefit analysis is fundamental to making decisions in ecosystem management. The second part provides an overview of ecosystem economic concepts and principles in a market economy. Importantly, it discusses the common issue of markets not working (failures) especially in natural resources and ecosystems. The third part provides students with an understanding of planning processes and tools for developing management plans for natural resources systems.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply financial and economic tools to benefit-cost analysis and decision making.
  2. Describe market failures in ecosystems and natural resources and ways to address them.
  3. Appreciate tools used to value non-timber forest products, and environmental services such as recreation, water, and biodiversity.

Course Outline

Unit 1: Benefit to Cost Analysis (BCA)

Module 1: Introduction of Benefit to Cost Analysis

Module 2: Discounting

Module 3: Inflation and Risk

Module 4: Decision Criteria in Financial Analysis

Module 5: Benefit to Cost Analysis Case Study Presentations

Unit 2: Ecosystem Economics (EE)

Module 6: Market Economies

Module 7: Market Failures — Externalities

Module 8: Market Failures — Critical Role of Property Rights

Module 9: Non-Market Valuation

Module 10: Ecosystem Services Case Studies and Presentations

Unit 3: Management and Planning Principles (MPP)

Module 11: Introduction to Ecosystem Management

Module 12: Uncertainty and Adaptive Management

Module 13: Stakeholder Involvement

Module 14: Deer Management Case Studies and Presentations

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

Most World Campus courses require that students purchase materials (e.g., textbooks, specific software, etc.). To learn about how to order materials, please see the Course Materials page. You should check the World Campus Course Catalog approximately 3–4 weeks before the course begins for a list of required materials.


ISBN: 978-1610916073
Keohane, N. O., & Olmstead, S. M. (2016). Markets and the Environment (2nd ed.). Island Press. (This textbook will be provided for free as a PDF within Canvas.)

ISBN: 978-1610914888
Meffe, G., Nielsen, L., Knight, R. L., & Schenborn, D. (2013). Ecosystem Management: Adaptive, Community-Based Conservation (2nd ed.). Island Press.

Bullard, S. H., & Straka, T. J. (2011). Basic Concepts in Forest Valuation and Investment Analysis: Edition 3.0. Faculty Publications. (This textbook will be provided for free as a PDF within Canvas.)

For pricing and ordering information, please see the Barnes & Noble College website.

Materials will be available at Barnes & Noble College approximately three weeks before the course begins. It is very important that you purchase the correct materials. If your course requires one or more textbooks, you must have exactly the correct text required (edition and year).

Other required and optional readings are in specific course modules.


Course assignments include calculation exercises and writing assignments (e.g., doing a benefit-cost analysis for an ecosystem resource of your choosing).

Most modules include a quiz upon completion of the module. Students also take a synthesis quiz at the end of each part of the course (similar to exams)—one each at the end of Modules 5 and 10.

Final Exam

There is no final exam.

Late Submission Policy

Students are responsible for any of their missed work. The instructor will not inform students of any missed work. Each module builds upon one another and the time frame of each one is planned to be two weeks. Assignments can be submitted at any time during this time period, but will not be accepted for full credit after the date and time indicated. To ensure a reasonable turnaround time of approximately 1 week, you must submit on-time. For weekly contributions to discussions, quizzes, and the final project, no credit will be given if submitted after the due date.

For the weekly reading assignments and peer review, if the deadline is missed, you can achieve up to 50% credit by turning it in prior to the next quiz. After that quiz date, no credit will be awarded.

Grading Policy

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value Weight
Practice Questions 0 0%
Quizzes 260 28%
Essays 255 25.5%
Discussions 160 15.5%
Case Studies 200 20%
Presentation 125 11%
TOTAL: 1000 100%
Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Remote Learning

Visit the Penn State Remote Learning website as it provides answers to frequently asked questions, offers student support resources, and contains contact information for those who can help answer any questions you may have about learning remotely.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. Please visit the University Libraries website as it provides services including tutorials, peer reference consultants, an ask-a-librarian chat service, and data support to students from all campuses.

Penn State Policies

Log-In Policy

Students are expected to log-in regularly to keep up-to-date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class for each semester and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures and the Code of Conduct).

Read the Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's Academic Integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias webpage.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 814-863-0395
  • Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
  • Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741
  • Mental Health Providers (all campuses)

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.