For students seeking to explore the ecological dimensions of environmental law, there is no better classroom than Vermont Law School's backyard. Field courses venture out into the forests and hills of Vermont during summertime to learn about ecology, forestry, and more.
The two-week, field based course Ecology: Principles and Applications at the Landscape Level provides aspiring environmental professionals with a solid introduction to the science behind biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and other issues in the context of increasing climate instability. Rather than relying on textbook examples of ecological concepts, students spend time exploring the White River and Ottauquechee River watersheds, learning an ecological approach to landscape assessment that stresses not only inventorying the biotic and physical components (pieces), but also examining how these pieces are distributed in the landscape (patterns) and what forces drive these patterns (processes). They interpret the history of how the landscapes we see today have unfolded through time—from their geological origins to the impacts of European settlement and 20th century land-use, while also looking to the future of the landscape by exploring strategies for maintenance and restoration.
The intensive course Forest Policy and Law in New England introduces students to the significant issues affecting forests and forest management in the region, including the management of forests on private and public lands, forest fragmentation and biodiversity loss, the impact of invasive species, recreational and other evolving forest uses and the implications and impact of climate change. During both classroom time and visits to local forest sites, students study land use regulations, incentives and taxation (current use), timber sales, marketing and import/export restrictions, wildlife management, and tourism.
The one-credit summer weekend course Conservation Agriculture Policy examines state and federal conservation agriculture policies. Students are exposed to the variety of state and federal conservation programs designed to assist farmers in achieving conservation compliance, through farm site visits to see specific types of conservation practices implemented by farmers to protect natural resources and increase air, water, and soil quality on- and off-farm.