2016 Course Descriptions and Schedule

The following courses will be offered in 2016. We hope the schedule does not change, however, sometimes it is inevitable. Please check back for updated information or email us at summerenvironment@wcl.american.edu if you have any questions.

In 2016, 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 31 to F., June 3
Mon., June 6 to F., June 10
Mon., June 13 to F. June 17
(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. Additionally, it looks at the practice of public interest international environmental lawyering. The course combines in-class lectures with site visits to international organizations, government agencies, environmental law firms, and environmental NGOs.

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

6:00 to 9:00 PM
Tu., May 31 to Fri., June 3
(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.

6:30 to 9:00 PM
Mon., June 6 to Fri., June 10
(1 week course)

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

This short course is designed to introduce you to a number of international environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) legal issues and their impact on multinational corporations with global footprints.  It explores several examples of international environmental and CSR law that are affecting the way corporations conduct business around the globe, with a particular focus on the emergence of product-focused regulatory requirements that trigger supply chain management demands. 

2:00 to 5:00 PM
Tu., May 31 to Fri., June 3

(1 week course)

Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente in America Latina (En Espanol) (1 credit)
Astrid Puentes

Previously taught in English, this year Human Rights and Environment in Latin America will be taught in Spanish. 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.

This can also be taken as part of a 2 credit class entitled, Derechos Humanos y Su Relacion Con El Derecho Ambiental y Desarrollo. Read more: https://www.wcl.american.edu/hracademy/courses.cfm#DHRDAD

2:00 to 5:00 PM
Mon., June 13 to Fri., June 17
(MTuThF; 1 week course)

Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (1 credit)
Professor Kenneth Markowitz

Explores the principles and practice of making environmental laws work through achieving higher levels of compliance, strengthening the rule of law, ensuring good governance to meet environmental and climate objectives.

Exam: Take home paper.

6:30 to 9:00 PM
Mon., June 13 to Fri., June 17
(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.

6:30 to 9:00 PM
Mon., June 6 to Fri., June 10
(1 week course)

International Climate Change Law (1 credit)
Eliza Northrop

The course is designed to provide an introduction to the international climate change regime, its objectives, institutions, mechanisms and politics. The course will be divided into three main parts. The first will focus on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its related legal instruments, the Kyoto Protocol and most recently the Paris Agreement. We will unpack the history, governance arrangements, operation and future of each of these international agreements. The second part of the course will look at efforts to address climate change outside of the UNFCCC, including the role of non-state actors, coalitions and clubs. The last part of the course will examine how climate change interacts with other bodies of international law (e.g., the Ozone Treaty and Trade). We will conclude with an overview of climate law and policy in the United States and considering the role for law in the transition to a low-carbon future.  At the end of the week you will have an understanding of the breadth of the international climate change regime as well as an appreciation of the key legal instruments and actors involved.

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 20 to Fr., June 24

(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.

Five Week Course
Dates: June 20-July 20
, MW 6:00-8:30pm

Environmental Justice (2 credits)
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.