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News Release

Vermont Journal of Environmental Law Examines Teaching Climate Change Law Through Service Learning

Thursday, March 9, 2017


In their most recent publication, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) editors at Vermont Law School continue a series on "Innovating the Environmental Law Classroom" with articles on teaching climate change law through service learning and environmental law through interest group role-playing. VJEL Volume 18, Issue 2, published in February and available online, also includes articles on legal lessons from Keystone XL and other contemporary environmental issues.

"We are proud of the scholarship represented in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, which seeks to make legal issues surrounding the environment accessible to all," said VJEL Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Blackmon JD'17. "As students and future lawyers, VJEL editors are particularly inspired by the innovative, real-world education models shared in VLS Professor Tracy Bach's article, 'Minding the Gap: Teaching International Climate Change Law Through Service Learning,' and Pace Professor Karl S. Coplan's 'Teaching Substantive Environmental Law and Practice Skills Through Interest Group Role-Playing.'"

In "Minding the Gap," Bach discusses a VLS international climate change law course that incorporates service learning, including attendance at the annual Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and semester-long support of a UN least developed country (LDC) delegation. "Through this curricular innovation, our students come away from this hybrid course—where classroom teaching mixes with experiential learning and service learning frames professional skill development—with an understanding of international environmental lawmaking informed by direct experience. This innovation in one course helps VLS see other opportunities for closing the gap between law practice and legal education in the curriculum."

Additional articles featured in the issue include "The Virtues of Uncertainty: Lessons from the Legal Battles over the Keystone XL Pipeline" by Ted Hamilton, "Stuck in Limbo: Can Offshore Wind Ever Break Free in New England Amid a Maze of Regulatory and Political Challenges?" by Bradford Alexander Hillman, and "Director Duty of Care in China and the United States: What Liability for Climate Change?" by Carissa Wong. The issue closes with a note about how "Wyoming's Data Trespass Laws Trample First Amendment Rights" by VJEL Notes Editor Hannah Solomon JD'18.

The issue is available for download at

The Vermont Journal of Environmental Law's mission is to provide an accessible forum to discuss contemporary environmental legal issues. VJEL publishes articles authored by academics, practitioners, and students alike. In selecting articles, VJEL editors recognize that environmental issues are inexorably linked with many other areas of law and seek to encompass a broad range of viewpoints and attitudes. In addition to publishing quarterly issues and hosting symposiums, VJEL reaches national audiences through its annual Top 10 Environmental Watch List. For more information about the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, visit


Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation's largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master's Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.​