Course Descriptions

The following is a listing of all potential courses that WCL will offer in a semester. While the law school makes reasonable efforts to offer all of these classes on a periodic basis, each course may not be available to all students during their tenure at WCL.

Environmental Law (3)
Provides an overview of environmental law with particular emphasis on the scientific, political, and economic forces shaping contemporary environmental issues. Statutes studied include the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, RCRA, and CERCLA.

Advanced Environmental Law: Liability and Torts (3)
Focuses on advanced issues in liability under federal environmental law, particularly advanced issues in Superfund, and under the common law of environmental torts. Additionally, the course surveys issues of environmental federalism, including commerce clause and choice of law issues arising in environmental cases.

Advanced Environmental Law: Chemicals and Waste Regulation (3)
Provides a detailed study of the federal statutes and regulations addressing chemical products, toxic and hazardous substances, and hazardous waste.

Advanced Environmental Law: Water Law (2)
Conducts an in-depth examination of US water law, including the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and water quality issues. It also examines the role of the federal and state governments in establishing water pollution control standards.

Biotechnology and the Law (3)
This course considers the state of biotechnology, its successes, problems, and promise. It presents an overview of regulatory, legal, political, and ethical considerations of technologies based on the manipulation and transfer of genes. The course focuses on both the coordinated regulatory framework in the US and possible overlapping and occasionally conflicting activities of the Environmental Protection agency, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Agriculture. It will consider developing case law, and will examine the international regulation of biotechnology, the human genome project and its legal implications, and the implications of biotechnology for intellectual property and patent law.

Climate Change and Emissions Trading (1)
Investigates the legal and policy framework, and practical considerations for participating in the growing carbon market through emissions trading.

Climate Change and the Law (3)
Provides an in-depth knowledge of the emerging law and policy of climate change and national and international global warming.

Climate Change Litigation (1)
Explores strategies for successful climate-related advocacy before the U.S. federal courts and agencies.

Comparative Environmental Law (3)
Presents different laws and policies from the US, Europe, and developing countries for protecting the environment. Emphasis is given to the major components of modern environmental legal systems, including environmental impact assessment, access to environmental information, science-based environmental standards, and implementation of international agreements. The approach is practical, to emphasize the policy trade-offs inherent in designing and implementing environmental law and policy.

Comparative Urban Environmental Law (3)
Examines environmental challenges posed by the "urbanization," phenomenon. This course looks at the challenges caused by this rapid urbanization including poor sanitation, contaminated water, inadequate housing, smog, solid waste, and industrial products. Students will explore the role of law and legal institutions in meeting these challenges. Particular emphasis will be on problems and approaches in developing countries and economies in transition.

Democracy and the Environment (2)
Examines the legal basis for citizen participation in the design and implementation of environmentally sustainable development policies. Students explore the theory behind citizen participation, review the legal context of intrasocietal relationships, and examine comparative legal models for citizen participation in environmental issues.

Energy Regulation (2)
Explores the legal dimensions of the development, pricing, and delivery of energy resources, including oil, gas, coal, electricity, and nuclear energy; and the environmental aspects of energy development.

Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (1)
Examines the principles and practice behind the effective implementation and enforcement of, and compliance with, environmental laws.

Environmental Impact Assessment and Decision-Making (3)
Analyzes requirements for environmental impact assessments under a variety of legal regimes. The focus will be US federal law, namely the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement on proposals for federal action likely to have a significant impact on the human environment. The class looks at the practice as well as the legal requirements in the United States and elsewhere, including case law. The course involves problem solving exercises, including role-playing by the students, guest speakers, and attendance at NEPA/EIA-related activities in Washington, DC (i.e. court hearings, public meetings, discussion programs, and congressional proceedings).

Environmental Issues in Business Transactions (2)
Explores the real-world environmental problems that petitioners encounter in counseling clients pursuing transactions in the corporate, real estate, banking, and bankruptcy contexts. Also examines the potential liability under RCRA and CERCLA of the various parties, including officers, directors, shareholders, and operators. Students must have taken both Environmental Law and Business Associations.

Environmental Justice (2)
Examines the legal and societal aspects of the environmental justice movement, including the use of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, NEPA, SARA Title III, and common law actions to safeguard the environmental health and safety of low-income and ethnic communities.

Environmental Law and the US Congress (1)
Introduces the Processes and practices relating to the enactment of federal environmental laws and oversight of environmental matters in the U.S. Congress.

Environmental Litigation (2)
Covers the procedural, substantive, and tactical considerations in environmental litigation. Various compliance and enforcement strategies are examined while students draft complaints and other trial documents.

Spring 2012: This course aims to provide insight into procedural, substantive, and tactical considerations in environmental litigation. The course will focus on two cases that have actually been litigated: one brought by federal EPA against a hazardous waste site owner and two waste gnerators, and the defendants' third party actions against multiple generators; and the other brought by a real estate developer against the Department of Defense under the "takings clause" in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In addition to learning the substantive law, at issue in the cases, students will draft a complaint, draft written discovery, participate in a mock deposition, and draft and argue a motion. The course will focus on litigation skills and there are no prior course prerequisites.

European Union Environmental Law (3)
Surveys the major environmental principles, directives, and regulations of the European Union relating to environmental protection.

European Union and Climate Change (1)
Surveys recent developments in the European Union's treatment of climate change.

Federal Public Lands Law (2)
Studies the development, protection, and conservation of federal lands and natural resources, including the outer continental shelf. It emphasizes the problems of government and users in developing mineral resources (oil, gas, and mining), forests, and water on federal and Native American lands. Additionally, it looks at the preservation and protection of wilderness areas, wildlife, parks, and other public interests in the nation's lands.

Global Warming Law and Policy (3)
Examines one of the most critical air and atmospheric issues of our time: global warming or climate change. Related areas, such as transboundary air pollution and ozone depletion, are also studied.

Heritage Resources Law (2)
Provides an introduction to the legal protection of cultural property, historic sites, and artifacts by examining the application of NEPA, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and the Natural Historic Preservation Act. Issues studied include historic sites, Native American artifacts, submerged cultural resources, and criminal, civil, and administrative remedies. This course exposes students to federal administrative law, criminal law, civil procedure, environmental law, Native American law, and litigation strategies.

Human Rights and Environmental Law (1 or 2)
Examines the interaction between human rights law and environmental law in the context of current debates over globalization, development, and sustainability. Topics include methods of using existing human rights laws to protect environmental resources and promote sustainable development, and how environmental law and the principles of sustainable development might be used to further human rights, including the right to life.

The Impact of Regional Integration on Environment and Labor (2)
Examines the international basis for environment and labor laws in the context of international trade.

International Application of US Environmental Law (3)
Covers the extraterritorial reach of US environmental laws, US implementation of environmental treaties, and the emerging case law involving US corporations operating abroad, including exports. Students investigate how these provisions fit into the general structure of environmental law and explore the social policy and political choices implicit in environmental law.

International Business and Environmental Protection (1)
Surveys the current treaties, standards, and institutions that affect the environmental aspects of international business.

International Energy Law (4)
This course focuses on business transactions in the energy sector using the international petroleum sector as a case study. It will address both the regulatory and contractual issues raised by international transactions in this area. Students study natural resource law, petroleum law, investment law, contract management, border and jurisdiction delimitation, offshore marine pollution, environmental regulation of oil and gas, and negotiation of international petroleum agreements.

International Environmental Dispute Resolution (2)
Surveys the substantive and procedural norms of the various tribunals to which environmental disputes involving nations or nationals of different states can be presented for resolution. The course considers the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Justice, and the U.S. federal court system, as well as the roles of the World Trade Organization, various human rights courts, and the International Labor Organization. Also, it discusses the potential for alternative dispute resolution, and the roles of individuals and non-governmental organizations.

International Environmental Law (3)
Presents a contemporary perspective on the legal response to specific global and transboundary environmental threats. This includes case studies of global warming and sea level rise, export and import of hazardous waste, the the problem of ghost driftnets abandoned in the global commons of our marine environment, the endangered African elephant, continued whaling by Japan and Iceland, and the protection of aboriginal peoples.

International Institutions and Environmental Protection (2)
Surveys international institutions, such as UNEP or the World Bank, that affect environmental protection and sustainable development. The course also examines other international institutions, such as non-governmental organizations, regional and transnational corporations, and trade institutions.

International Regulation of Chemicals (1)
Examines the emerging international and comparative law of chemicals and provides an overview of the most important institutions, processes, and agreements relating to international chemicals management.

International Wildlife and Biodiversity (3)
Surveys the major international agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, for the protection of the world's biological heritage from bacteria to whales, and from rain forests to coral reefs. It reviews the international implications of selected domestic laws, which are examined within their scientific, economic, political, and cultural contexts.

Land Use Regulation (4)
Examines the law of zoning and land use controls; the forms of action seeking relief from zoning ordinances; subdivision regulations and exactions; exclusionary zoning; the law of takings; inverse condemnation; and due process claims against state and local governments. Additionally, classes include several administrative "trial practice" exercises involving zoning proceedings, such as applications for variances and re-zonings and permits for the demolition of historic structures.

Law of the Sea (3)
Combines a traditional overview of the law of the sea, including the rights and duties of states under the Law of the Sea Convention, with a focus on contemporary issues such as environmental preservation, fisheries management, public enjoyment, and resource exploitation.

Mexico's Environmental Law (1)
This courses surveys Mexico's environmental laws, institutions, and regulatory framework, including its approach to environmental assessment, permitting, and enforcement.

Natural Resources Law: Minerals (2)
Focuses on the legal dimensions of the development of natural resources, particularly hard minerals.

Oil and Gas Law (2)
Reviews the nature and ownership of oil and gas interests, conveyancing and leasing of hydrocarbon interests, royalties, implied covenants in oil and gas leases, and oil and gas lease operations.

Research Seminar on Advanced Environmental Law (2)
Affords students an opportunity to conduct their own significant research or participate in faculty research projects.

Supervised Environmental Externship Seminar (2)
Focuses on practical aspects of environmental protection, drawing from students' own experience in a field externship at one of the many environmental organizations or government offices in Washington, DC. For more information on environmental externships, click here.

Trade and Environment (3)
Introduces the legal issues arising from the interplay between international trade law and domestic and international environmental law. The course examines international trade law and corresponding US law and specific cases of trade and environmental disputes. It also considers whether certain aspects of international environmental laws violate free trade principles.

Trade and Environment: the Americas (1)
Provides an introduction to the legal dimensions of trade and environmental issues in the Americas. Including providing an introduction to the interplay and conflict between trade law, and domestic and international environmental law in the Americas.