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.