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James Gustave Speth

Photo of Gus Speth
Professor of Law

JD, Yale Law School, 1969;
MLitt, Oxford University, 1966;
BA, Yale College, 1964

Phone: 802-831-1192
Email: gspeth@vermontlaw.edu

Biography

James Gustave "Gus" Speth joined the faculty of the Vermont Law School as Professor of Law in 2010. He serves also as Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, Senior Fellow at The Democracy Collaborative, and Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. In 2009 he completed his decade-long tenure as Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, Gus Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration); and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Throughout his career, Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation and promote sustainable development, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment. Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Environmental Law Institute and the League of Conservation Voters, the Blue Planet Prize, and the Thomas Berry Great Work Award of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities. He holds honorary degrees from Clark University, the College of the Atlantic, the Vermont Law School, Middlebury College, the University of South Carolina, Green Mountain College, the University of Massachusetts, and Unity College. He is the author, co-author or editor of seven books including the award-winning The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability and Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment. His latest book is America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, published by Yale Press in September 2012.

Speth currently serves on the boards of the New Economy Coalition, Center for a New American Dream, Climate Reality Project, and the Institute for Sustainable Communities. He is an honorary director of the World Resources Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council and is an advisory board member or associate for the Democracy Collaborative, United Republic, 350.org, EcoAmerica, Labor Network for Sustainability, New Economy Working Group, SC Coastal Conservation League, Environmental Law Institute, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, Heinz Center, Free Speech for People, Vermont Institute for Natural Science, and the Northwest Earth Institute.

He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1964 with a BA in Political Science, and subsequently earned an M.Litt. in Economics from Oxford University in 1966 as a Rhodes Scholar and his JD from the Yale Law School in 1969. After law school, he served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black.