A Guide to Environmental Law Centers
There are twenty and the list is growing.
Many law schools consider public service a key part of their missions. More than most people appreciate, they play an important role in public policy in areas as diverse as intellectual property, criminal justice, and environmental law. Research centers are an increasingly common institutional setting for that work. With that in mind, I’ve tried to put together a list of environmental law centers.
Please let me now if I’ve missed some centers. I’ll be more than happy to add them to the list.
In terms of coverage, I was looking for research/policy centers rather than pedagogical programs. There are a lot of environmental clinics, including some that do policy work, but I didn’t include them since their primary mission is teaching. I also excluded campus-wide centers and focused only on law schools.
I didn’t want to rely on my memory of different programs, which would bias the results toward schools that I happen to be familiar with. So I relied primarily on google searches. I’m sure that the list is under-inclusive. Let me know what I’ve missed, and I’ll be glad to make additions..
I also didn’t want to try to do my own descriptions of programs, for fear of offending colleagues who thought I didn’t give their programs their full due, so I used language from the websites themselves. As. result, the centers probably sound a lot more similar than they really are; there are only so many ways of describing what an environmental law center does in a single sentence.
Even so, you can see some differences between the centers, especially in the breadth of their interests. Some centers make a point of noting their interest in specific topics like water law, energy issues, environmental justice, economics, or their home region.
- California Environmental Law & Policy Center (UC Davis). The center’s environmental research and policy priorities include climate change law and policy; water allocation in the American West; property rights; environmental governance questions; renewable energy; and green technology.
- Center for Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics (UNC). Focus on the intersection of climate change, energy policy, environmental policy and economic development.
- Center for Environmental Law (Tulane). Drawing from and serving all aspects of the Tulane community, the CEL promotes programs that serve students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community at large.
- Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (UC Irvine). Promoting innovative research and catalyze concrete policy action in environmental and land use law.
- Center for Law, Energy, & the Environment (Berkeley), Offers pragmatic, creative policy solutions to critical environmental and energy challenges, with a focus on climate change and the energy transition,
- Center on Environment, Land, and Law (Loyola of New Orleans). Studies and responds to the Gulf Coast’s most challenging environmental problems.
- Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law (Case Western). Provides a forum for interdisciplinary and cross-ideological dialogue and research.
- Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (UCLA). The Emmett Institute educates future leaders and develops solutions to the climate crisis and environmental justice challenges.
- The Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Center (Houston). The Center provides a forum for education and discussion of the most important issues of the day, such as climate change, air pollution, clean coal and renewable energy.
- Environmental and Energy Law Program (Harvard), Innovative and pragmatic legal analyses to improve environmental and climate outcomes and support clean energy.
- Environmental Law & Sustainability Center (Widener).. Explores the ways that the law can be used to address challenges including climate change, environmental rights, public health, biodiversity, and the protection of the land, air, and water for future generations.
- Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center (Oregon). Focus on public interest environmental law and commitment to innovations in environmental legal education.
- The Environmental Law Center (Vermont). Includes sub-centers on topics including environmental governance in Asia, energy, and food systems.
- Georgetown Climate Center. Working at the nexus of state, local, and federal climate policy.
- Getches-Wilkinson Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment (Colorado). Creative, interdisciplinary research, bold, inclusive teaching, and innovative problem solving in order to further true sustainability for our lands, waters, and environment.
- Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies (Pace). Anchors innovative and ongoing projects to develop necessary laws to address the world’s most pressing global environmental issues. This is one of a cluster of environmental law centers at Pace, including the Energy and Climate Center and others.
- Green Energy Institute (Lewis & Clark). Developing strategies for a just and equitable climate transition.
- Institute for Policy Integrity (NYU). Uses economics and law to support smart policies for the environment, public health, and consumers. NYU also has the Guarini Center, which focuses on innovative environmental and energy policies, especially at the local and international levels
- Sabin Center for Climate Change Law (Columbia). Develops legal techniques to fight climate change, trains students and lawyers in their use, and provides up-to-date resources on key topics in climate change law and regulation.
- Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources & the Environment (Utah). Has programs on public lands and indigenous people; environmental dispute resolution; and the crisis facing the Great Salt Lake.
- Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. A joint undertaking between Yale Law School and the Yale School of the Environment, advances fresh thinking and analytically rigorous approaches to environmental decision-making across disciplines, sectors, and scales.
P.S. Thanks to those who have suggested additions to the list, both in posted comments and offline.
P.P.S. Although it’s not affiliated with a university, it is also worth mentioning the Center for Progressive Reform, an association of law professors that works on environmental policy issues.