2015 Course Descriptions and Schedule

The following courses potentially will be offered in 2015. However, the below is the schedule from 2014 and the 2015 schedule is still being developed and courses may be added or changed. Please check back for updated information or email us at summerenvironment@wcl.american.edu if you have any questions or would like to be added to a list to receive updates about seminars and schedule.

In 2014, we will also be offering a 5 week course on Environmental Justice that will be held following the completion of the Environmental Law Summer Session. Read MORE.

10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Tu., May 27 to F., May 30
Mon., June 2 to F., June 6
Mon., June 9 to F. June 13
(3 week course)

International Institutions and Environmental Protection (2 credits)
Professor David Hunter

This course surveys international institutions, such as the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme, and how their policies and activities promote or impede environmental protection and sustainable development.

Exam: It is a take-home exam that consists of specific short-answer essay questions.

6:00 to 9:00 PM
Mon., June 2 to Th., June 5
(1 week course)

Development Finance and the Environment (1 credit)
Professor Charles Di Leva

This course will examine the roles and responsibilities of international financial institutions toward the environment. Examination will begin by identifying different types of financial institutions and the types of financial instruments and flows that can impact on the environment, both positively and, if not done properly, negatively. Examination will focus on the types of policies and procedures that these institutions use to address environmental and social issues, and how they relate to compliance and accountability. Review will also include discussion of how institutions support the aims of multilateral environmental agreements. The principal focus will be the institutions of the World Bank Group, but will also include consideration of private sector financial institutions and other multilateral and bilateral organizations. The class will work through a practical example of how and what types of environmental and social policies should be applied to a large scale infrastructure project.

2:00 to 5:00 PM
Tu., May 27 to Fri., May 30
(1 week course)

Environmental Law & the US Congress (1 credit)
Professor Laurel Angell

This course explores Congress's impact on U.S. environmental laws, with an emphasis on the law-making processes and practices relating to the enactment of federal environmental law, and Congress's response to current substantive issues related to the environment.

Exam: Take Home

6:30 to 9:00 PM
Mon., June 9 to Fri., June 13
(1 week course)

International Business and Environment (1 credit)
Professor Jackson Morrill & Professor Russ LaMotte

This course surveys the current treaties, standards, and institutions that affect the environmental aspects of international business.

2:00 to 4:30 PM
Mon., June 9 to Fri., June 13

(1 week course)

Human Rights and Environment in Latin America (1 credit) - NEW COURSE
Astrid Puentes

This seminar explores the link, interdependence, and international recognition of human rights and environment through the analysis of international standards, law, doctrine, and paradigmatic cases.  Emphasizing Latin America and using a case simulation, the seminar will also address the major current challenges that environmental protection involves, its relation to human rights, and legal and useful policy tools to achieve effectiveness.

2:00 to 5:00 PM
Tu., May 27 to Fri., May 30
(1 week course)

Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (1 credit)
Professor Kenneth Markowitz

Reviews the principles and practice of making environmental laws work on the ground through stronger enforcement and compliance.

Exam: Take home paper.

6:30 to 9:00 PM
Mon., June 9 to Fri., June 13
(1 week course)

International Biodiversity & Wildlife Law (1 credit)
Professor David Downes

Reviews the major principles of international law for the conservation of biological diversity and wildlife.  We will discuss international agreements on subjects such as biological diversity, oceans fisheries, migratory species, and wildlife trade, with a problem-solving perspective that takes account of the nature of biodiversity and the range of policy and management tools that can promote conservation.

2:00 to 4:30 PM
Mon., June 2 to Fri., June 6

Environmental Ethics (1 credit) - Cancelled
Professor Andrew Ayers

Environmental lawyers work on a wide range of problems, from small-scale disputes between neighbors over land use to global crises like climate change. They do this work in a great variety of capacities and roles, including litigator, counselor, activist, independent evaluator, policy-maker, and many more. In these diverse contexts, lawyers encounter unique ethical opportunities -- chances to do work that is especially useful, skillful, or admirable -- and special ethical challenges. What advice should a lawyer give a client who wants to pollute more than the law allows, but less than regulators will notice? When should a lawyer break confidentiality to prevent an environmental harm? How should an activist lawyer advise a client when the adversary proposes a settlement that would make the client better off, but also ensure that pollution continues? The class will provide an introduction to the tools that environmental
lawyers use to confront problems like these. The tools we will study include the rules and values of the Model Rules and other sources of lawyering law; narratives and reflections from practicing environmental lawyers; and techniques of moral and practical reasoning. The class will also explore how simplistic models of lawyering and legal ethics fail to do justice to the diversity and richness of real-world environmental lawyering.

2:00 to 5:00 PM
Mon., June 9 to Th., June 12

(1 week course)

Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) Law & Policy (1 credit)
Professor Amanda Cohen Leiter

This course will explore the law and policy related to hydraulic fracturing (fracking). In this course students will learn about the complex science and unsettled law of hydraulic fracturing and met with experts from industry, local government, and an environmental NGO to hear various perspectives about this timely topic.  The course will have guest speakers and will give students a broad overview of the fracking issue and a range of perspectives to consider when thinking about the costs and benefits of the ongoing natural gas boom. Local, state, and national governments in the U.S. and abroad are currently wrestling with fracking law and policy.  To learn more about this topic, click here for a list of readings from this class. If you’re interested in viewing the course syllabus, please contact Professor Leiter at leiter@wcl.american.edu

6:00 to 9:00 PM
Tu., May 27 to Fri., May 30
(1 week course)

International Climate Change Law (1 credits)
Professor Stephen Porter

This course will provide an overview of the international response to climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with a focus on the effectiveness of existing approaches and the current status of negotiations. We will cover the negotiation, structure and implementation of both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. The course will also track current events and news reports that relate to climate change in order to relate these sometimes abstract concepts currently in the news. We will also explore the ongoing effort to negotiate the post-2012 international climate regime and why the effort has proved elusive despite wide agreement that human induced climate change is occurring and risks grave consequences. The course will also examine examples of how climate change interacts with other bodies of international law (e.g.,  the Ozone Treaty, Human Rights, Law of the Sea). We will conclude by examining selected topics relating to climate law and policy in the United States and considering the role for law in the transition to a low-carbon future.

Exam: Take Home exam with several short-essay questions. Grades will be based on the final exam and on class participation.

One Week Special Workshop
Mon, June 16 to Fri., June 20

(5 Days; All Day)

Trade and Environment: A Joint Course with the OAS (2 credits)

The Organization of American States and the Environmental Law Summer Program will be holding a week-long program on trade and environment that will conclude with a trade simulation exercise.  The program will take place in June (after the other summer session courses) and is a full-day program each day.  The seminar consists of different modules taught by practitioners from non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and government from throughout the Americas. For more information about the readings and schedule, please click here. This program has limited space.

Exam: Grades are based on participation in the course, specifically in the day-long trade simulation exercise, and on a short reflection paper that is due one week after the course ends.


Related Course

The following seminar will be offered by the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property and cross-listed with the Environmental Law Summer Session.

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wed., June 11 to Th., June 12

Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development (1 credit)
Professor Jeremy de Beer (University of Ottawa)

This course explores how intellectual property intersects with environmental sustainability, technological innovation, and knowledge policy. Participants in the course will engage in interactive classroom discussion and actively participate in a simulation of international negotiations.


Five Week Course
MW June 23-July 28

Environmental Justice (2 credits) - NEW Course
Alexandra Dapolito Dunn

This two-credit seminar covers current and thought provoking environmental topics with an umbrella theme of environmental justice - the disproportionate environmental burden borne by people of color, the poor, and indigenous peoples.  Our primary focus will be domestic environmental issues, although the course includes one lecture on international access to environmental human rights and some discussions will touch on the international implications of domestic activities (e.g., e-waste export, climate change).  Important skills and concepts that will be taught in this course include:

  • Roles of lawyers in resolving "place based conflict."  The techniques we discuss will be relevant for students considering a variety of practice placements, from NGOs, to government (local/state/federal), to in-house counsel, to private firms, to policy advisors. 
  • Strategies for understanding and empowering clients involved in environmental conflicts.
  • Remedies for identified community environmental burdens, including litigation, application of administrative procedures, constitutional law, civil rights law, environmental dispute resolution, and voluntary agreements such as community benefits agreements. 
  • Concepts of risk assessment, permitting, federal/state relations, equity, access to information, and lawyering skills.
  • Each student will prepare a 12 minute case study on a current environmental/energy conflict involving land use, community desires, redevelopment, or industrial expansion.  The student's presentation should be no more than five PowerPoint slides, and leave approximately three minutes for discussion among Seminar participants. 
  • During the course, we will have several guest attorney speakers and undertake a Harvard Program on Negotiation environmental conflict simulation. 
  • Throughout the course we will draw from Coal River, a novel about mountaintop removal in West Virginia, to lay a foundation for and to further explore environmental justice issues. 

80% of the final grade will be based on a closed book final exam. The exam will consist of short answer questions and hypotheticals, and will draw on the readings and class discussions. Students will be able to take the exam at any time during the exam period. Students will have three hours to complete the exam. The suggested times for the questions total 2 hours, giving students the ability to spend additional time as needed on the questions. 20% of the final grade will be based on class preparedness, classroom exercises, and class participation.