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Each year during spring break, professor Hillary Hoffmann leads a trip to visit public lands in Utah. Students spend a week diving into the federal laws governing public lands. They learn about statutes such as the National Park Service Organic Act, the Antiquities Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, and significant tribal treaty rights and other legally protected tribal interests in federal lands. They learn how to apply relevant legal principles to public lands and tribal rights during field workshops.

Classes include hikes in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and the Bears Ears National Monument, while guest lectures from attorneys, grassroots advocates, and tribal representatives illuminate the issues. “Teaching students about the adverse impacts of oil and gas leasing in the classroom is not nearly as informative as discussing the same material while standing next to a well pad, listening to the incessant droning of the rig equipment and watching the giant tractor-trailer trucks fill up their tanks," said professor Hoffmann. "Taking students to an active oil well also helps them see exactly what can happen to fragile desert soils, critical habitat for endangered species like desert tortoises, and ancestral Puebloan burial grounds and archaeological sites, if Congress or the President removes their legal protections.” 

"Visiting an oil well, as much of an eyesore as it was, actually ended up being an incredibly eye-opening experience. I want to do something about it now."
– Alicia Follrod JD’19

Photo gallery: Utah Field Study 2022 


Students outside in a green field in Vermont
Study forestry, ecology, and more in the rural landscapes surrounding Vermont Law School.
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.
Students pose next to a sign for the 25th UN Climate Change Conference
UN Climate Change Conference
Attend the world's most important climate conference—held in a different country each year—to serve as a delegate.
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 sitting in a circle at a campsite next to an alpine lake
Learn about public lands management while backpacking through the Montana wilderness.
Jack Tuholske
Tuholske Institute Home
Learn how the institute promotes place-based learning where law, nature, and people meet.