China and Southeast Asia Specialization

It's wholly unexpected that a Chinese environmental leader would best know only two or three cities in the United States: New York, Los Angeles, and South Royalton. But that's what happens when a little law school in Vermont trains more than 1,000 Chinese individuals in environmental and energy law in just ten years.

As the challenges posed by climate change grow in urgency, the power that massive developing countries like China--and partner countries like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar, where China has invested significant resources--can leverage to effect change cannot be overstated.

The U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law at Vermont Law School has thus set out on a mission: to engage and train Chinese and Southeast Asian judges, legal scholars, students, natural resource managers, and other professionals in environmental justice, climate change issues, public interest advocacy, and environmental governance. Courses include:

The Partnership's endeavors are not restricted for our colleagues across the Pacific. Students who specialize in Chinese and Southeast Asian environmental law at VLS will study and research the region's environmental governance challenges, improve their foreign language skills, and build useful connections for their future career in international environmental law. Many students take an exchange semester abroad. And of course, students can draw upon Vermont Law's extensive portfolio of environmental and international courses, clinics, journals, and extracurricular activities.

Whether they hail from South Royalton or Beijing, a generation of leaders will use the power of the law to address climate change, public health, and the environment in China and Southeast Asia, and Vermont Law School will teach them how.

U.S.-ASIA PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

The U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law is a collaborative program to advance environmental and energy law and policy in China and throughout Asia. The goal of the partnership, which is supported by a number of public and private organizations, is to strengthen the rule of law in environmental protection and to build capacity among individuals and academic, government, and private-sector institutions to solve environmental problems. Since its inception in 2006, the partnership's goals have been to strengthen the capacity of Chinese education, government, and civil society sectors to become effective environmental problem solvers; to improve China's policies, laws, and regulations to advance the development of environmental law in China; and to enhance municipal, provincial, national, and international networks in China to advance best practices in environmental protection and energy regulation. Building upon the success it has achieved in China, the partnership has expanded its geographic scope in an effort to respond to the environmental governance needs of the region.

Led by Professor Siu Tip Lam, a former assistant attorney general in the Environmental Protection Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, the program's staff includes Professor Yanmei Lin, Associate Director; William J. Schulte, Senior Program Officer and Project Leader; an LLM Fellow; and other VLS faculty advisors.

PARTNERSHIP PROJECTS

  • Launch a new initiative to provide environmental governance training in Myanmar, to give key stakeholders a range of legal and policy tools that can be adopted to provide broad scale protection of the country's key biodiversity areas 
  • Host Chinese scholars and students for residency programs at VLS
  • Train scholars from across China on international standards for environmental rights protection and teaching methodology
  • Train stakeholders, including judges and prosecutors, to apply and enforce environmental laws and take steps to increase the role prosecutors could play in civil enforcement of environmental laws
  • Establish an Environmental Law Training Program (ELTP) to train environmental stewards and legal advocates in China to use legal tools to promote environmental compliance and protect the environment, public health, and welfare
  • Provide opportunities for VLS students to work on cutting-edge research projects relating to environmental issues in China and throughout Southeast Asia