Environmental Mission Scholars in China
The Environmental Mission Scholars program in China aims to strengthen environmental governance and the rule of law. Scholars build the capacity of environmental practitioners to effectively engage in environmental legal practices, mainly by utilizing China’s recently enacted provisions on environmental public interest litigation, the eco-environmental damages compensation system, and other public participation tools.
In order to achieve this goal, The U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law at Vermont Law School works with Wuhan University, Duke Kunshan University, and Friends of Nature in China. The joint program fosters the next generation of environmental scholars and practitioners, giving scholars the opportunity to undergo an intensive knowledge, skills, and experiential-based training program. The curriculum focuses on harnessing the power of the law, good science, and ecological practice to promote environmental protection.
Scholars spend one month conducting intensive coursework before completing a 16- to 18-month legal fellowship working for an environmental NGO or environmental research institute. They benefit from a supportive mentorship program that bolsters their professional development and can access ongoing interactive online courses designed to sharpen the their skills. Scholars can also participate in a series of networking and support workshops with scholars and practitioners from around China to learn about their experiences, the challenges they face, and the strategies they have developed to effectively participate in environmental governance processes using public interest litigation.
The program recruits junior lawyers or recent law graduates with demonstrated passion for and commitment to environmental causes, who show the potential to become environmental legal advocates and stewards.
Hao is a graduate of both Southwest University of Political Science and Law, and Sun Yat-sen University. He worked at King & Wood Mallesons law firm as a corporate legal intern and has some experiencing working on environmental compliance and environmental public interest litigation. He also worked at the Wildlife Conservation Society in their Counter Wildlife Trafficking program. He applied for the Mission Scholars program to continue to find innovative ways to advance China’s environmental law practices.
Yiyuan has a graduate degree from Wuhan University. She currently works at the Qinghai Sanjianyuan Environmental Protection Association doing policy advocacy work, and previously worked for the Nature Conservation Study Group.
Danmei earned her law degree from Fujian Police College. She is seeking to promote the development of environmental civil public interest litigation and fight for environmental protection. She currently works as an assistant lawyer at Beijing Yingke Law Firm in Xiamen. She has done some pro bono work on an Environmental Public Interest Litigation (EPIL) case. Because of her interest in environmental protection, she helped set up a collaboration between the Fuzhou Yingke Law Firm and the local civil society organization Fuzhou Green Home to provide pro bono legal services on environmental matters.
As a student, Fang worked with a student group to organize public benefit activities and to create volunteer opportunities for other students in public service work. She is a graduate of Shanxi Datong University and is from Datong, Shanxi Province. She aims to use the knowledge she gains from the Mission Scholars program to advance environmental policy advocacy and public interest litigation in China.
Lizhu hopes to use her time as an Environmental Mission Scholar to protect wetlands and biodiversity in China. She is a graduate of East China University of Political Science and Law and is currently working towards a degree in ecological law from Southwest Forestry University. Lizhu believes that EPIL cases are the best method of environmental protection; she aims to become an environmental litigation lawyer once she completes her graduate degree and the Mission Scholars program.
Ke, who hails from Gongyi, Henan Province, is seeking to protect the rights of Chinese people. She is a graduate from the North China University of Technology in Beijing, where she studied intellectual property law. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Finance and Law in Henan Province. Ke has been working in the legal profession for ten years, having previously worked as a prosecutor.
Degao hopes to promote China’s ecological governance through environmental public interest litigation. A graduate of Northwest Minzu University, Degao currently works at the Wuhan Xingche Environmental Protection Center, executing their legal projects.
Huanhuan previously interned in the Huanggang City Procuratorate, where she gained valuable insights on the challenges in bringing EPIL cases. She is currently a graduate student at the Research Institute of Environmental Law at Wuhan University and has joined the Environmental Law Clinic there. After completing the Mission Scholars program, Huanhuan plans to find work as an attorney for an environmental civil society organization.
Weihong is hoping to contribute to the development of environmental law in China. Currently, she studies at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law. Through her studies and the Mission Scholars program, she is learning how to deal with the pollution, domestic sewage, and the compensation system for environmental damages.
Xin is from Ordos City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. He received his undergraduate degree from Wuhan University of Technology. Xin is interning at the Wuhan Xingche Environmental Protection Center where he assists with handling EPIL cases. Following the completion of the Mission Scholars program, he hopes to become an environmental lawyer.
Xinhui hopes to use EPIL to combat pollution problems across China. Xinhui is currently a student at the Research Institute of Environmental Law (RIEL) at Wuhan University where she is studying the basic theories of environmental law. She hopes to gain more practical experience through the Mission Scholars program. Upon completion of the program and graduation from RIEL, Xinhui hopes to become an environmental attorney at a firm or environmental civil society organization.
Chenyu is completing her final year at Fudan University. She hopes to use the education provided by the Mission Scholars program to further her doctorate degree. She hopes to eventually become a judge in China, and to continue to fight for environmental justice across the country while promoting more sustainable food systems.
Hongyi received his undergraduate law degree from Wuhan University and is currently a master student of environmental law at RIEL. His focus is on environmental litigation and compulsory environmental liability insurance. Following the Mission Scholars program, Hongyi wants to further his environmental education with courses on environmental law and policy. He ultimately aims to establish a corporation that would provide environmental protection compliance solutions for other corporations.
Xitong graduated from Southwest Forestry University. He currently works at a law firm and hopes to eventually become an environmental public interest lawyer and teach environmental law upon completion of a doctorate degree. Xitong has previously participated in research activities with Southwest Forestry University, having conducted field investigations at Erhai Lake in Dali. There, he visited villages and towns, interviewing government departments and holding a forum with environmental protection experts.
Zhiqi is currently an environmental law graduate student at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He has not yet participated in environmental work and is hoping to use the Mission Scholars program to further his education and gain meaningful environmental law experience.