2015 Course Descriptions and Schedule

The following courses will be offered in 2015. Please check back for updated information or email us at summerenvironment@wcl.american.edu if you have any questions.

In 2015, 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 26 to F., May 29
Mon., June 1 to F., June 5
Mon., June 8 to F. June 12
(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 8 to Th., June 11
(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 26 to Fri., May 30
(1 week course)

Environmental Law & the US Congress (1 credit) - CANCELLED
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

6:00 to 9:00 PM
Tu., May 26 to Fri., May 29
(1 week course)

International Business and Environment (1 credit)
Professor Russ LaMotte

This course surveys the current treaties, standards, and institutions that affect the environmental aspects of international business. This course will discuss environmental and social responsibility requirements on products and global supply chains.

6:00 to 9:00 PM
Tu., May 26 to Fri., May 29

(1 week course)

Human Rights and Environment in Latin America (1 credit)
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 26 to Fri., May 29
(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 1 to Fri., June 5
(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 8 to Fri., June 12
(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 15 to Fr., June 19

(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.

6:00 to 9:00 PM
Mon., June 1 to Fri., June 4

Intellectual Property and the Environment (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
Dates: June 15-July 17

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.