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Betsy Baker

Photo of Betsy Baker
Associate Professor, Senior Fellow for Oceans and Energy at Institute for Energy and the Environment

Dr. Jur., Christian-Albrechts-Universitat, 2000;
LLM, Christian-Albrechts-Universitat, 1994;
JD, University of Michigan, 1982;
BA, Northwestern University, 1978

Phone: 802-831-1270


Professor Betsy Baker is on leave for 2012-2013, splitting her time between Alaska and Washington D.C.

Through May 1, 2013, she served as Visiting Scholar with the inter-agency Extended Continental Shelf Task Force in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. State Department, Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Professor Baker spent the second half of 2013 in Alaska, researching at federal and state agencies involved in the regulation of offshore oil and gas operations in the Arctic, also spending time with other stakeholder groups including Alaska Native entities, industry, and non-governmental organizations.

Professor Baker’s immersion in Arctic law and policy flows from her work in Europe and the United States on law of the sea, international environmental law, comparative law, property law, and Canadian-U.S. cooperation. Her writing on legal aspects of continental shelf mapping landed her on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy as a member of the science crew for two Arctic extended continental shelf mapping deployments to the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2008 and 2009. For 2009-2010, she was selected as a Dickey Research Fellow in the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College.

Professor Baker was co-lead author on the Arctic Council "Arctic Ocean Review Phase II Report," a survey of all international agreements relevant to the Arctic Ocean, which the Arctic Council ministers adopted at their May 2013 meeting in Kiruna, Sweden. The AOR is a project of the Arctic Council's working group Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME). Her co-lead on the project was Bernard Funston, chair of the Canadian Polar Commission. Her research and policy work includes commissioned papers on offshore oil and gas regulation for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and Inuit Leaders Summit on Resource Development, and proposed Common Precepts for Marine Scientific Research Access to the Arctic Ocean, developed with colleagues at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for a German Foreign Ministry conference on climate change and the Arctic. At the VLS Institute for Energy and the Environment, Professor Baker serves as project lead for the Resource Extraction Team, whose recent publications include White Papers comparing regulation of offshore hydrocarbon activity in Canada and the United States, and in Greenland and the Russian Federation.

Before returning to the United States to oversee the graduate program for international students at Harvard Law School from 2003–2007, Professor Baker spent more than a decade in Germany, where she obtained her doctorate in law, worked as legal historian at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, and was affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. Legal biography, a first love, led to her first book: Johann Caspar Bluntschli, Francis Lieber und das moderne Völkerrecht 1861-1881. She also published a first article in an Ocean Yearbook series on the scholarly work of ocean activist Elisabeth Mann Borgese. Professor Baker is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Society of Comparative Law, and the American Society of International Law. She chairs the Arctic Oil and Gas working group of the University of the Arctic's Arctic Law Thematic Network, serves on the advisory board for the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security at the University of Vermont, and is an executive committee member of the AALS Section on North American Cooperation.