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A select group of Vermont Law and Graduate School students participates in an annual International Climate Law course that takes them to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as the "COP" conference), held in a different country each year. Under the supervision of Professor Derek Walker and various partners, students work as delegates at the event and support nations during the negotiations.

The Paris Agreement signaled the beginning of a new, universal approach to combatting climate change, and negotiations continue. Through tracking negotiations and working on interdisciplinary, client driven research projects, this course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental issues, negotiation process, and political dynamics of the international climate regime. Students look at the advantages and disadvantages of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement, while supporting a small island state during the climate negotiations. 

"This class opened my eyes to how different nations approach dialogue, the intention behind these positions...and the depth of knowledge one needs to be successful in international climate negotiations."
– Mitul Patel JD/MERL'21

Student delegates contribute to the development of international climate policy and inform the ongoing process of building out a framework for operationalizing commitments under the Paris Agreement. To learn more, visit the students' blog, Ridges to Reefs


A group of VLS students poses for a group shot on the steps of the University of Havana, Cuba
Visit urban and rural areas of Cuba to learn about sustainable energy and agriculture. 
Students outside in a green field in Vermont
Study forestry, ecology, and more in the rural landscapes surrounding Vermont Law School.
Students sitting in a circle at a campsite next to an alpine lake
Learn about public lands management while backpacking through the Montana wilderness.
Students pose for a group shot in the red desert at Canyonlands park
Travel through Arches, Canyonlands, and Bears Ears to learn about the federal laws governing public lands. 
Students in the back of a truck in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Tour Cambodia, Vietnam, and/or Myanmar to learn about environmental governance in the developing world.
Jack Tuholske
Tuholske Institute Home
Learn how the institute promotes place-based learning where law, nature, and people meet.