Vermont Law School – Environmental Law CenterBy Asian Correspondent Feb 16, 2012 4:53PM UTC
Vermont Law School operates one of the most talked-about environmental law programs in the US. The school’s Environmental Law Center (ELC) opened in the 1970s, at a time when awareness regarding the need for environmental protection regulations was growing in North America. As such, VLS got in on the ground floor and developed alongside growing social concerns for the environment.
The state of the environment and ecosystems in developing nations is precarious. Conscientious students in Asia are taking notice and seeking out advanced degrees in environmental law and policy-making, in hopes of ratcheting back severe damage taking place at home.
This is a great environment for students from a range of backgrounds. VLS offers international and comparative law programs, which send students to foreign countries where they can broaden their horizons and learn through international externships. The school also partners with Sun Yat-sen University in China, producing unique cross-cultural learning opportunities for students from both hemispheres.
All of this is in addition to Vermont Law School’s solid reputation as an eminent law school in the US. Significant attention is given to concepts such as justice and fairness, without foregoing the practical training in the application of laws. With a student-teacher ratio of 13-1, students benefit from ample access to VLS’ world-renowned faculty.
It is easy for law students to get wrapped up in theory at the expense of practical application. The majority of VLS students counter this impulse by getting involved in clinics and experiential programs. This ranges from on-campus clinical work to off-campus externships. Real-world experience like this is essential, and it gives graduates a competitive edge when they are ready to enter the workforce.
China’s rapid ascent to global prominence has produced a host of environmental challenges. There is no denying that problems like this are intrinsic to development. But left unchecked, they can present serious long-term problems for local ecosystems and the people who derive their livelihood from them.
In 2006, Vermont Law School launched the US-China Partnership for Environmental Law. Through this partnership, thousands of Chinese government officials, lawyers and educators have been trained. It has made a substantial impact on Chinese developmental policy, producing environmental leaders, aiding governmental agencies and bolstering China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Students from China are taking notice. In the past few decades, environmental lobbyists in the US have successfully implemented regulations and policies that have lessened the burden on the environment. With this in mind, Asian professionals can come to the US and glean benefits from decades of environmental policymaking experience. In this scenario, Asian countries in the throes of rapid development can come up to speed much faster than they would on their own.
Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center (ELC) opened in 1978 and offers some of the most comprehensive environmental law coursework in the world. It is consistently ranked as one of the top two environmental law programs in the country by U.S.News & World Report.
The ELC addresses issues such as global warming, sustainable development, energy law and environmental taxation. Vermont Law School also offers International and Comparative Law Programs that combine study-abroad options, courses led by guest lecturers and international law externships. Graduates emerge with a foundation in comparative and international law and a strong global perspective.
A comprehensive Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) program is also on offer. It trains students to be agents of change in a world that is increasingly threatened by ineffective environmental policy. In all, more than 60 courses are available, offering a balanced approach to both law and policy.
The MELP program is flexible. It can be completed in as little as 12 months, but students can also take courses online or in intensive summer sessions. In the process, students are introduced to international systems of law and regulations as well as how nonprofits, government agencies and corporations cooperate with each other. Students are also trained in environmental sciences and legal writing.
Graduates go on to advocate in the private sector, organize public interest campaigns, serve as government advisors and support green business practices. Vermont Law School’s environmental program is second to none in the US, and it’s hard to imagine a better place for Asian grad students to get an international edge in crafting and nurturing environmental policy.