Curriculum Guide · Curriculum
The First Law of Ecology that "everything is connected to everything else" applies also to the field of environmental law. Environmental law’s roots can be found in both common and statutory law, its values and principles in ethics, science and economics. Fields of law as disparate as bankruptcy, securities regulation and criminal law have been affected by environmental requirements. Although environmental law is a relatively new subject, it has grown dramatically in scope and complexity in the last 25 years, presenting students with a daunting array of laws, regulations, institutions, and acronyms.
In response to the demands of the field, the Law Center has recently restructured its environmental curriculum in order to offer a richer variety of environmental law courses. For organizing purposes, it may be helpful to think of the courses as being divided into three categories: core courses (necessary to gain a basic understanding of the field), advanced or specialized courses (for students interested in gaining more proficiency in different facets of the field), and related courses (knowledge of which may be as important as learning the content and structure of the environmental laws themselves).
Environmental Law is the basic introductory course in this curriculum cluster. While this survey course is not a formal prerequisite to all other courses in this area, students would be well advised to take this important course as early as possible in their environmental studies. The Law Center typically will offer two sections of Environmental Law each year. Both focus primarily on the major federal environmental statutes; these include, among others, laws relating to air and water pollution, and hazardous waste handling and disposal. Perhaps the main difference between the two sections is their relative attention to practice, and to policy and theory. The evening course, taught by Adjunct Professors Schiffer and Siff, emphasizes solving practical problems that confront the environmental lawyer and thus their course tends toward the former orientation, while the day offering focuses somewhat more on theory and public policy issues.
If Environmental Law can be described as a series of broad, shallow dives into the substance of federal environmental law, then the new Advanced Environmental Law course is a series of narrow, deep dives into the same material. The basic objective of the course is to teach students how to navigate an exceedingly complicated regime of statutes, regulations, informal agency practices, and the like, in the context of addressing a concrete problem. To this end, Advanced Environmental Law will use a set of reading materials which includes “problem sets” prepared by the professor, involving timely, rather complicated, practice-oriented scenarios. This course is targeted especially to students who would like to pursue a career either in environmental law or in complex government regulation of another kind.
Another noteworthy course in the environmental curriculum is the Environmental Research Workshop. This workshop is patterned after the law and economics workshop that has proved so successful here. Outside (or inside, if appropriate) scholars will present works in progress to the class. We conceive “environmental research” broadly enough to include topics in administrative law, constitutional law, corporate law, and other fields which may affect the future direction and shape of environmental regulation. We also hope occasionally to include in the series ecologists, economists, political scientists, and others whose work influences environmental law.
Familiarity with the issues addressed in International Environmental Law is essential to a full understanding of the limits and reach of domestic environmental law. More and more environmental problems are transnational in nature and are linked with issues of sustainable development. The intersection of environmental and trade issues is an area of particular current interest, and Trade and the Environment Seminar focuses on these issues.
In addition, given the necessarily abbreviated emphasis in the Environmental Law courses on the laws relating to public lands and other natural resources, such as wildlife, interested students would also be well served by taking the core course in Natural Resources Law. Natural Resources Law introduces students to the laws governing the ownership, conservation, and exploitation of our nation’s public lands and the renewable and nonrenewable natural resources, like wildlife, water, and minerals that abound on them as well as on private lands. The course explores the constitutional, economic, and political underpinnings of these laws as well as hot button topics like takings and federalism.
Specialized Courses and Seminars
Depending on the student's own needs and interests, more specialized or advanced courses in the environmental cluster may also be valuable. These include courses and seminars relating to specific statutes (such as the Clean Air Act or the laws concerning hazardous waste), to emerging challenges to traditional environmental law (such as the problem of environmental equity) or to particular industries important to this field (such as the energy industry).
Some of the specialized courses (such as Advanced Environmental Law Seminar: US and EU Approaches to Regulating Chemicals, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology, Criminal Enforcement of Environmental Law, Land Use Law, Natural Resources Law Seminar: Selected Topics, and Water Law) provide the theoretically inclined student the opportunity to address broad issues of public policy and resource allocation in more depth than the basic survey course allows.
For the student interested in developing practice-oriented skills in this area, there is no better learning opportunity than participating in a clinical program. In the Institute for Public Representation (IPR), students represent individuals and communities adversely affected by environmental problems in the District of Columbia metropolitan area as well as local and regional environmental organizations interested in preserving the area’s amenities and natural resources. The Harrison Institute works with states on developing policy proposals for building economies that are, among other things, environmentally sustainable.
Courses such as Negotiations, Negotiations and Mediation Seminar, Local Government Law, and Federal Courts may also contribute greatly to a student's understanding of environmental law. Other courses that may once have seemed far afield from the study of environmental law -- in particular, Corporations, Bankruptcy, Insurance, Finance of Real and Personal Property, and Securities Law -- also are increasingly important to a thorough understanding of this field. Professors in many sections of these courses devote some coverage to legal issues arising in the environmental field.
Full-time and Visiting Faculty:
Harrison Institute for Public Law: Policy Clinic
Institute for Public Representation
Administrative Agencies, Congress, and the Federal Courts
Cashin, Sheryll D. (Offered)
Heinzerling, Lisa (Offered)
Long, Robert A. (Offered)
Silberman, Laurence H. (Offered)
Super, David A.
Tankersley, Michael E.
Vladeck, David C. (Offered)
Babcock, Hope (Offered)
Buzbee, William W.
Percival, Robert V.
Schiffer, Lois J. (Offered)
Siff, Scott A. (Offered)
European Environmental Law
Federal Courts and the Federal System
International Environmental Law
Land Use Law
Natural Resources Law
Energy Trading and Market Regulation I
Energy Trading and Market Regulation II
Epidemiology for Lawyers
Global Risk Regulation
Advanced Environmental Law: Climate Change Experiential Learning Seminar
Energy Problems Seminar: Climate Change and Other Energy Issues
Environmental Law Enforcement
International Law Seminar: Water Resources
Natural Resources Law: Energy, Water and Land Resources
Blank, Michael A. (Offered)
Costantino, Cathy A. (Offered)
Jackson, Samuel S.
Milner Gillers, Rachel (Offered)
Sellers, Sandra A. (Offered)
Renewable Energy Seminar: Policy, Law and Projects
Sources of Environmental Law Seminar
The Art of Regulatory War Seminar: Federalism and Other Legal-Political Battlegrounds
Related JD Offerings
Economic Reasoning for Lawyers
Federal Courts and the Federal System
Altman, Stephen D. (Offered)
Blank, Michael A.
Carlebach, Stevenson (Offered)
Carr, Chad M. (Offered)
Costantino, Cathy A. (Offered)
Goldstein, Deborah H.
Holloway, Mark P. (Offered)
Linkins, Julie R. (Offered)
McClane, Jeremy R. (Offered)
Miller, Betsy A. (Offered)
Milner Gillers, Rachel
Smith, Matthew J.
Taylor, Ryan (Offered)
Walczewski, Erin S.
Negotiations and Mediation Seminar