Vermont Law School invites leaders in the fields of environmental, energy, agriculture, and international environmental law to serve as Distinguished Summer Scholars in residency during the VLS Summer Session. Each Distinguished Summer Scholar delivers a public lecture, participates in informal social events on campus, and is available to meet with students individually. These distinguished visitors are a significant intellectual resource for our summer students and also offer valuable networking opportunities.
Environmental Law Scholars
Keith Hirokawa, Associate Professor, Albany Law School
Professor Hirokawa joined the faculty at Albany Law School in 2009. He teaches courses involving environmental and natural resources law, land use planning, property law, and jurisprudence. Professor Hirokawa's scholarship explores convergences in ecology, ethics, economics, and law, with particular attention given to local environmental law, ecosystem services policy, watershed management, and environmental impact analysis. His books include Greening Local Government: Legal Strategies for Promoting Sustainability, Efficiency, And Fiscal Savings (Hirokawa and Salkin, eds. 2012); Environmental Law and Contrasting Ideas of Nature: A Constructivist Approach (2014), and Rethinking Sustainable Development to Meet the Climate Change Challenge (Hirokawa and Owley, eds. 2015).
Prior to joining the faculty at Albany Law, Professor Hirokawa was an Associate Professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (presently Texas A&M) and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. Professor Hirokawa practiced land use and environmental law in Oregon and Washington and was heavily involved with community groups and nonprofit organizations. Professor Hirokawa studied philosophy and law at the University of Connecticut, where he earned his JD and MA degrees. He earned his LLM in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School.
Professors Hirokawa and Rosenbloom are collaborating on a research project and are serving a dual appointment as summer scholars.
Energy Law Scholar
Sara Bronin is an architect and attorney whose scholarly research examines property, land use, historic preservation, green building, and renewable energy law. Overarching all of her work is a focus on the way the law can facilitate economically and environmentally sustainable American cities. Professor Bronin has become one of the foremost scholars in two rapidly evolving areas of law: historic preservation and renewable energy (including microgrids). She has been honored for her contributions to the legal profession by being elected to membership to the American Law Institute. Through the ALI, she is coordinating the land use (and other portions) of the forthcoming Fourth Restatement of Property.
Outside the classroom, Professor Bronin has served as an expert witness and as a consultant to cities, state agencies, and private firms interested in creating or facilitating places of value. Among other projects, she served as one of the lead attorneys and development strategists for the 360 State Street project, a mixed-use, transit-oriented, LEED-Platinum project in New Haven, Connecticut. She chairs the City of Hartford's Planning & Zoning Commission and has overseen sweeping changes to the zoning, subdivision, and inland wetlands regulations. She also co-chairs Hartford’s Climate Stewardship Council and chairs the Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative. Professor Bronin serves in the leadership of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, the Connecticut Trust Revolving Loan Fund, and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. She is a past president of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association. In 2016, Professor Bronin was a finalist for the CT Law Tribune Attorney of the Year Award and UConn Law School's nominee for the University-wide Teaching Innovation Award.
Professor Bronin received bachelor degrees in architecture and Plan II liberal arts honors from the University of Texas, a master’s degree in economic and social history from the University of Oxford – which she attended as a Rhodes Scholar – and a law degree from Yale Law School.
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Scholar
Michelle Nowlin joined the Duke Law faculty in June 2008, as a supervising attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. She supervises clinic students from the Law School and the Nicholas School of the Environment and co-teaches the seminar portion of the clinic. Since joining the Clinic faculty in 2008, Nowlin has worked with students on a range of matters, including the development of a precedent-setting settlement with the state of North Carolina to protect endangered sea turtles, filing an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of low-wealth communities challenging mountaintop-removal mining practices, developing a regulatory guide for cottage food production in NC, and working with a coalition to defeat plans for a new cement manufacturing facility on the banks of the NE Cape Fear River. She also teaches a course in food and agricultural law and policy, and is leading a Bass Connections course on Animal Waste and Global Health. She serves as chair of the board of advisors for the Duke Campus Farm, as a faculty advisor for the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, and is the chair-elect for the American Association of Law School’s Food and Agriculture Law Section. She received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability in 2013.
Nowlin has dedicated her career to the protection of natural resources and public health through the practice of environmental law. Prior to joining Duke’s faculty, she was a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill where she developed and led the organization’s initiative to develop and implement water pollution control programs for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in southeastern states, developed a template for integrating water resource and water quality planning, and litigated cases pursuant to the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. For her advocacy work, she was named an Honorary Warden by the North Carolina Audubon Society in 2006, and received the Bill Holman Award for Environmental Advocacy, awarded by the Conservation Council of North Carolina, in 1997. She completed a fellowship awarded by the Ford Foundation and worked in private practice for two years in Washington, D.C. prior to joining SELC. Nowlin is a member of the North Carolina Bar and the D.C. Bar, and is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of North Carolina, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She has served on the boards of directors of several nonprofit and civic organizations, including a term as chair of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. She was named a Neighborhood Hero by Durham’s Inter-neighborhood Council in 2007, in recognition of her community work. Nowlin earned her B.A. with Highest Honors from the University of Florida, where she was also inducted into Florida Blue Key and Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a dual J.D./M.A. from Duke Law School and the School of the Environment in 1992. While at Duke, she was on the founding committee and served as editor-in-chief of the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum. Nowlin lives in Durham with her husband and three spirited daughters.
International Environmental Law Scholar
Prof. QIN Tianbao is Luojia Professor of Law, and serves as the Director of the Research Institute of Environmental Law (RIEL) and the Associate Dean for Research and International Affiliations for the School of Law, Deputy Director of the Research Foundation of the Supreme Court of China on Environmental-related Judicial Theory, Wuhan University; Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Journal of Environmental Law.
Dr Qin received his LL.B and LL.M degrees from Wuhan University. He finished his Doktorarbeit (doctoral dissertation) in Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt in Germany and obtained his Dr. iur degree from Wuhan University. He has been a Post-doctor Research Fellow in Ghent University, Belgium.
He is a Legislative Expert for China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Agriculture, and Hubei Provincial Parliament, and headed or participated in drafting of several major environmental bills. He is a legal advisor for Chinese negotiations on biodiversity, ocean and climate change issues.
Dr. Qin is the Secretary-General of Chinese Society of Environment and Resources Law (CSERL); a Member of IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law and Commission on Ecosystem Management, a Member of Governing Board of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law; and a member of the Committee on the Legal Principles relating to Climate Change of the International Law Association.
He was an EU Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Turin from December 2014 to February, 2015, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Göttingen from June 2012 to June 2014, a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars from June to Jul 2011, a Visiting Professor at the Ghent University in Belgium from April to September 2011 and from July to August 2006, at the Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica in Chinese Taipei from December 2008 to May 2009; and at the University of Manchester in UK from June to September 2007; a DAAD Scholarship holder at Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt in Germany from June 2003 to June 2005.
Currently, he is concentrating his researches in law and policy concerning biodiversity and biotechnology, water and ocean, climate change and energy, environment and health, and trans-boundary environmental issues. Prof. Qin is author of several books and more than 100 articles in these fields. His recent publications include: Research Handbook on Chinese Environmental Law (Edward Elgar, eds), Principles of International Biodiversity Law (CUPL Press), Legal Issues on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing (WHU Press).