Courses

Stanford’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program offers one of the most extensive environmental and natural resources curricula in the nation. The program integrates into each of its core courses situational case studies and simulations that are designed to bring real-world problem solving into the classroom. The small size of courses—usually 15 to 20 students, and seldom more than 50—fosters an interactive, skills-oriented approach to legal education, not to mention robust class discussions.

A key philosophy behind the program’s curriculum is that multiple disciplines must learn to work together to solve environmental and natural resources issues. Thus, our courses examine not only the law, but also the scientific, technical, and social science dimensions of a problem. Graduate students from other disciplines at Stanford—business, environmental engineering, urban planning, earth systems, and biology—often enroll in the program’s courses, adding new insights and perspectives.

Courses offered by the program over the past several years can be found below. Some, like Environmental Law and Policy, are offered every year, while others are taught on a more occasional basis.

Core Courses

Administrative Law
When agencies with limited political accountability make important regulatory decisions, they can gain judicial, legislative, and executive power as a result. This course explores the constitutional and rule-of-law difficulties created by this allocation of power, and examines how administrative agencies make law, the kind of law they produce, and the scope of judicial review of agency decision making.

Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy
This course focuses on the law of the administrative state. Its three major themes are: (1) the existence of political pressures that the law seeks, yet often fails, to regulate effectively; (2) the impact of agencies’ substantive work on their performance; and (3) the importance of lawyers’ differing roles as litigators, lobbyists, institutional designers, and political actors in the administrative state.

Energy Law and Policy
This course surveys U.S. law and policy concerning energy. Half the course addresses electricity, and the remainder focuses on coal, oil, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power, and alternative fuels as ways to produce electricity, as well as the continuing physical and financial restructuring of electrical transmission and distribution systems.

Environmental Clinic
The Environmental Law Clinic at Stanford offers students an opportunity to provide legal and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations on a variety of environmental issues, focusing primarily on natural resource conservation and protection. The clinic focuses on helping students develop sound professional judgment and strong advocacy skills, with a particular emphasis on the use of scientific information in the legal and policy-making arenas.

Environmental Law: Pollution
Making extensive use of case studies, this introductory course focuses on domestic issues of pollution control and prevention, solid waste disposal, and regulation of toxic substances, and looks at the roles of legislation, administrative decision making, the common law, and voter initiatives in addressing environmental problems.

International Environmental Law
This course examines the effective legal and political resolution of transnational environmental issues, including acid rain, global atmospheric and ionospheric concerns such as global warming and the protection of the ozone layer, tropical deforestation, and oceanic and international river basin pollution.

Land Use Law
Using simulations, case studies, lectures, and class discussions, this course focuses on the pragmatic aspects of contemporary land use law. Questions examined include whether or not the legal system should rely on comprehensive planning or the market to accommodate conflicts over land use, which issues should be controlled by government or private owners, and how these decisions affect environmental quality.

Law and Science of California Coastal Policy
This interdisciplinary course integrates the legal, science, and policy dimensions of characterizing and managing our coastal resources in California. The course focuses on the land-sea interface and explores contemporary coastal land use and marine resource decision-making.

Natural Resources Law and Policy
Using case studies and primary policy materials, this course looks at how our society regulates the use of natural resources, including public ownership and preservation of natural resources through other federal and state public lands. The course also examines major federal environmental statutes designed to protect natural resources, including the Endangered Species Act.

Water Law and Policy
This course examines how the law allocates water among competing consumptive and in-stream uses (including recreational use and preservation) and protects water quality under state and federal law. Because water is regulated differently than land and other natural resources, water law provides an opportunity to reexamine and critique many commonly held assumptions about property, such as the asserted advantages of exclusive property rights.

Advanced Courses and Seminars

Advanced Negotiation
This course takes students beyond the two-party lawyer-client dealings that are the focus of Stanford’s basic negotiation classes to learn effective negotiation of complex, multiparty disputes, including environmental disputes.

Animal Law
This course provides a survey of the law’s understanding and treatment of animals by looking at the development of federal and state policies on wild, domestic, and companion animals. Specific topics include the history of animal law, the concept of animals as property, the application of tort and remedies law to injuries by and to pets, protection of animals by cruelty and other laws, as well as constitutional issues raised in cases involving animals.

Climate Change
This course analyzes the legal structure of the Climate Change Convention as it has evolved through the Framework Convention, the Berlin Mandate, the Kyoto Protocol, and the 4th Conference of the Parties.

Environmental Law and Policy Workshop
Students in this seminar examine and critique current research and policy in the field, engage in their own research and writing, and discuss current topics with visiting practitioners, policy makers, and academics.

Environmental Ethics
Concentrating on how and why lawyers make decisions with ethical dimensions, this course explores the nature and content of the dominant value systems present in government, private practice firms, and advocacy public interest groups.

Environmental Justice: A Multidisciplinary Introduction
This course begins with a brief overview of the environmental problems faced by low-income communities and communities of color, as well as the structural and societal factors contributing to those problems. The course then uses case studies to illustrate the scientific, technical, economic, political, and legal issues in environmental justice.

Legal Aspects of Biodiversity
This seminar explores one of the strongest tensions in contemporary environmental law: the need to conserve biodiversity, on the one hand, and private property rights on the other. The seminar presents the concepts of biodiversity and the scientific and economic arguments for conserving it, then reviews existing regulatory structures and explores a variety of realistic alternatives.

Markets, the Law, and the Environment
This course examines the interface between economics and law in the use of market approaches to environmental problems. After an introduction to “free market environmentalism,” the course concentrates on public and private approaches to land, wildlife, and water management, with an emphasis on the practical applications of contract and property law.

Pesticide Regulation
This seminar provides quasi-clinical experience in the multidisciplinary analysis and resolution of environmental problems related to pesticide use and regulation.

Ocean Policy
This course examines the resources of the oceans and the efforts to regulate their use through laws and treaties, including the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The course also covers international fishery problems and the attempts to regulate the take of highly migratory species, such as tuna and whales, by international treaty.

Science & Legal Decisions
This seminar explores mechanisms for making the scientific determinations that affect legal actions. The course uses a series of case studies involving various decision makers, such as the court and jury in the bendectin and breast implant litigation, administrative agencies such as the FDA and its evaluations of drugs, Congress and its response to acid rain, and international organizations such as the WTO and its response to “mad cow disease.”

Toxic Harms: Tort & Alternative Control Strategies
The central question of this course is whether tort law effectively compensates victims of toxic exposure and controls the distribution and/or emission of toxic substances.

Law and Science of California Coastal Policy
This interdisciplinary course integrates the legal, science, and policy dimensions of characterizing and managing our coastal resources in California. The course focuses on the land-sea interface and explores contemporary coastal land use and marine resource decision-making.

Natural Resources Law and Policy
Using case studies and primary policy materials, this course looks at how our society regulates the use of natural resources, including public ownership and preservation of natural resources through other federal and state public lands. The course also examines major federal environmental statutes designed to protect natural resources, including the Endangered Species Act.

Water Law and Policy
This course examines how the law allocates water among competing consumptive and in-stream uses (including recreational use and preservation) and protects water quality under state and federal law. Because water is regulated differently than land and other natural resources, water law provides an opportunity to reexamine and critique many commonly held assumptions about property, such as the asserted advantages of exclusive property rights.

Related Enrichment Courses

Related Enrichment Courses

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Biotechnology Law and Policy
  • Conflict Resolution Systems Design
  • Constitutional Litigation
  • Economics
  • Empirical Analysis
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Indian Law
  • Federal Jurisdiction
  • Federal Litigation
  • Federal Pretrial Litigation
  • Game Theory and Law
  • Interdisciplinary Seminar on Conflict and Dispute Resolution
  • International Business Transactions I: Legal Practice in Advanced Developing Countries
  • International Human Rights
  • International Institutions
  • International Law and Policy
  • International Trade Law
  • Introduction to Public Interest Law Practice
  • Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
  • Law and Economics Seminar I
  • Law and Economics Seminar II
  • Legal Writing Advocacy: Advanced
  • Local Government Law
  • Mediation Seminar
  • Negotiation
  • Problem Solving
  • Problem Interest Litigation
  • Public International Law
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Quantitative Methods: Statistics
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Regulatory State
  • Urban Redevelopment and Environmental Law