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Mission Scholar: Josie Watson JD'23

September 17, 2021

Vermont Law School students are changemakers. Mission Scholarships offered by VLS support students who want to use the power of the law to make a difference in their communities and the world. Mission Scholarships are available to students pursuing careers in public service/social justice, and environmental stewardship—the core values of the Vermont Law School education.

Meet Current Mission Scholar: Josie Watson JD'23

Josie Watson JD'23
Josie Watson JD'23

I decided to apply to the mission scholar program because I am excited about ecological law. A relatively new legal area, ecological law is attempting to apply ecological understanding to more effectively govern ecosystems and their intersection with human communities.

I became interested in ecosystem service valuation as a tool to aid climate change mitigation development during my undergraduate years, during which soil health was gaining global attention for its ability to sequester and store carbon. I was able to focus my senior capstone project on, and then eventually become an intern with, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Global Soil Partnership, where I researched and advanced global governance strategies for leveraging the climate impacts of soil ecosystem services to influence national agricultural policy and climate investment.

I came to VLS passionate about rapidly developing climate mitigation law and policy mechanisms, and hoped to find various pathways for focusing on the cutting-edge area other than classwork. The environmental mission scholarship has allowed me to conduct real-time policy research on a local application of soil ecosystem services policy here in Vermont: the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program.

Because ecological impacts of human activities are unvalued and thus unaccounted for by western socioeconomic systems, my JD studies have helped me understand that a legal mechanism is required to compel economic actors to account for the ecological relationships. The economic considerations of ecosystem service valuation thus intersect beautifully with the “rights of nature” movement, which is active all over the world in the form of attempts to establish legal personhood for environmental entities such as rivers, animals, or even plant species such as wild rice. I am excited to be applying the remainder of my mission scholarship to funding a legal externship with the Center for Democracy and Environmental Rights (CDER), where I will be working as legal aid to current “rights of nature” communities of practice in the United States.


Scholarship Benefits

  • $3,000 Public Service Internship Stipend
  • Targeted Academic Advising
  • Scholar Dinners and Events

Scholarship Tracks:

  • Environmental: Present a cutting-edge environmental research paper as part of the Environmental Mission Scholar Lightning Talk lecture series; priority access to VLS environmental law clinics.
  • Social Justice: Leadership roles in pro bono legal service and projects.

Application Deadline:
March 15, 2022

Learn More