Skip to main content
Vermont Law School has resumed on-campus classes for the fall. Masks are currently required for all community members. For information on campus access, health and safety protocols, and testing requirements please visit
Layout Builder

Vermont Law School invites leaders in the fields of environmental, energy, agriculture, and international environmental law and journalism to serve as Distinguished Summer Scholars and Media Fellows in residency during the VLS Summer Session. Each visiting scholar or fellow delivers a public lecture, participates in informal social events on campus, and is available to meet with students and faculty individually. These distinguished visitors are a significant intellectual resource for our summer students and also offer valuable networking opportunities.

2021 Media Fellows:

Claire Brown, Senior Staff Writer, The Counter

Claire Brown is a senior staff writer for The Counter, an independent nonprofit newsroom that covers the forces shaping how and what we eat. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, and The Intercept. Her work has prompted Congressional investigations, led to a major corporation increasing its wages, and inspired legislation introduced into the Senate. She is Vermont Law School's first ASPCA-sponsored Animal Law Media Fellow. On Thursday, July 22, she will deliver the Hot Topics lecture "Algal Blooms and Animal Ag."

Lisa Held, Senior Policy Reporter, Civil Eats

Lisa Elaine Held is the senior policy reporter for Civil Eats, where she covers food and environmental policy and various other aspects of food and agriculture, from local food justice initiatives to multinational meatpacking companies. She covers the food system and the environment for many additional publications, and her stories have been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Eater, and NPR. Lisa also publishes a weekly newsletter on Substack called Peeled and produces and hosts the weekly podcast “The Farm Report” on Heritage Radio Network. She has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and currently lives in Baltimore. On Thursday, August 5, she will deliver the Hot Topics lecture "The Corporate Capture of Agricultural Climate 'Solutions.'"

Pamela King, Legal Editor, E&E News

Pamela King leads E&E News' coverage of environmental litigation at the Supreme Court and beyond. She previously covered energy law and the Interior Department's oil and gas policies. She has reported on the U.S. shale boom and bust and its impact on the economy, communities and the environment, and she has traveled across the country to document the ripple effects of fossil fuel extraction. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a master's degree in environmental resource policy from George Washington University. On Thursday, July 1, she will deliver the public Hot Topics lecture "From Ginsburg to Barrett: How 2020 Transformed Environmental Battles at the Supreme Court."

Jessica Scott-Reid, Freelance Journalist

Jessica Scott-Reid is a freelance journalist based in Canada, covering animal rights and welfare topics in Canadian media and beyond. She is a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Winnipeg Free Press, Sentient Media, Planet Friendly News, and others, and has contributed to The New York Daily News, Maclean's Magazine, CBC, and VICE. She is also a co-host of Canada's animal law podcast, Paw & Order, produced by national animal law advocacy organization, Animal Justice. In 2018, Animal Justice presented her with its first Media Award, "for journalism shining a spotlight on animal protection." And this year, advocacy group The Fur Bearers named her the winner of its annual Clements Award for Outstanding Media. Her main areas of interest and expertise include ag-gag legislation, government funding of animal agriculture, farmed animal transport regulations, environmental impacts of factory farming, barn fires, sea life welfare, alternatives to animal testing, plant-based foods, and more. On Thursday, July 15, she will deliver the Hot Topics lecture "The Problematic State of Farmed Animal Protection in Canada."

2021 Distinguished Scholar:

David Takacs, Professor of Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law

Professor David Takacs is proud to teach at University of California Hastings College of the Law, which is his J.D. alma mater.  He also holds an LL.M. from the School of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London, and a B.S. (Biology), M.A., and Ph.D. (Science & Technology Studies) from Cornell University.

He has been a consultant for international NGOs and US government agencies, analyzing legal and policy issues pertaining to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and global climate change. His scholarly work addresses carbon offsetting, biodiversity conservation law, the human right to water, and legal personhood for nonhuman entities. He is the author of The Idea of Biodiversity (Johns Hopkins U. Press). In 2017, he received the Rutter Award for Outstanding Teaching at UC Hastings.

Before his legal career, David was a professor in Earth Systems Science & Policy at CSU Monterey Bay, a lecturer in the John S. Knight Writing Program at Cornell, and a Peace Corps Forestry Volunteer in Senegal.

On Tuesday, July 20, Professor Takacs will deliver the Hot Topics lecture "Rivers with Rights."