Smoke: Wildfire Science and Policy Lab (808D)

Clients: California Native American Tribes, prescribed burn associations as well as legislative and executive branch decision makers.

Wildfire has emerged as one of the most pressing biodiversity, air pollution and public health threats in the Western United States. Advancing land stewardship at sufficient scale to substantially improve the resilience of western forests to fire is critical to reducing wildfire risks and air pollution exposure for the tens of millions that live downwind. This is an enormous technical and regulatory challenge.

In this course, students will learn the basics of the wildfire policy debate in the west with a focus on California. Lectures will focus on both scientific and legal aspects of the challenge. In addition, students will work in groups on legal and regulatory analysis aimed at supporting better decision making on wildfire at the state and federal level. Students will work in partnership with postdocs and legal fellows on their group projects and may have the opportunity to present the results of their work to both clients and policymakers.

The course is intended for students interested in multi-disciplinary approaches to public policy problems. No background in either the Clean Air Act or wildfire policy is required. Students will engage in weekly lecture and discussion of wildfire science and policy, including student presentations and guest lectures by scientists, practitioners and policymakers. Students will also meet additionally once per week with Professors Sivas and Wara in working sessions to discuss progress on team projects. Students will present the results of their research to California legislative and executive branch staff engaged in developing new approaches to wildfire policy. Elements used in grading: Attendance, Performance, Class Participation, Written Assignments, Final Paper.

CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and submit a Consent Application Form available at See Consent Application Form for instructions and submission deadline. This course is cross-listed with Environment and Resources (ENVRES 229A).

Course Catalog

Consent of Instructor – Application Portal


Deborah A. Sivas 1

Deborah A. Sivas

  • Luke W. Cole Professor of Environmental Law
  • Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program
  • Director, Environmental Law Clinic
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Affiliated Researcher, Center for Ocean Solutions
  • Faculty Advisor, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources
  • Professor, Doerr School of Sustainability

Clients & Deliverables

Clients: Various California legislative and executive branch decision makers

Deliverables: policy memos, visual data models, final report, policy briefings
Evaluating the Health Impacts of Prescribed Fire Policy in California

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