Environmental Policy & Law

Faculty offer a program designed to immerse the student in policy analysis and development as well as the implementation and enforcement of environmental policy and law. Areas of particular emphasis are land, species and water conservation and restoration; environmental justice; transboundary conservation, food/agricultural policy; conservation in Indian Country; global trade and climate change. Administrative, legislative and judicial action are all featured in the curriculum and the research work of faculty and students. Courses are often project-oriented, involving students in real world problem-solving for outside organizations. From protection of agricultural soils, to equitable treatment of communities burdened with toxic contamination, to developing campus, city and state greenhouse gas plans, to conserving native language and designating protected areas our faculty and students are involved in the debate and offering solutions through engaged scholarship.

The joint degree program in Environmental Studies and Law allows qualified students to obtain an M.S. in Environmental Studies and a J.D. from the Law School. Students earn Environmental Studies credit for Law School courses in public land and natural resources law, water law, environmental law, and land use law. Environmental Studies courses on environmental law and policy introduce students to environmental and legal issues.

Courses Offered: EVST

3 credits

Offered spring 

Instructor: Rosalyn LaPier

This course is a graduate readings course that will provide a historical overview of federal attitudes and policies toward Native Americans in North America and the environmental issues engendered from these policies, focusing on specific topics: pre-contact America, land ownership and stewardship, water rights, and natural resource development.

3 credits

Offered intermittently

Instructor: Robin Saha

This course seeks to develop students’ understanding and skills for participating in local solutions to climate change that can also support broader conservation, efficiency and sustainability efforts. This will be accomplished by engaging in planning and carrying out group projects that further advance existing climate change mitigation or adaptation efforts.

3 credits

Instructor: Neva Hassanein

The contemporary food and agricultural system is contested terrain.  A wide variety of actors are now engaged in the politics of food.  In this case, “politics” refers broadly to the ways various actors (government, businesses, institutions, and organizations) with different beliefs, principles, or interests try to advance or defend their positions in the very complex sphere of food and agriculture.  The purpose of this graduate seminar is to study and analyze some of recent debates – and critical social and ecological concerns – regarding today’s agrifood system.  Through a selection of interdisciplinary scholarship often referred to as “agrifood studies” and through critical reflection and discussion on the readings, this seminar provides participants with a solid grounding that will enable you to pursue academic and civic work on these issues in the future.  In addition to substantive knowledge about selected topics, you will gain critical thinking, research, writing, and presentation skills.

3 credits

Instructor:  Robin Saha

This course, open to graduate students and upper division undergraduates, explores how and why environmental risks - such as exposure to toxic chemicals and vulnerability to "natural" disasters - and benefits -such as access to natural resources, environmental amenities, and environmental protection - are inequitably distributed among various segments of society.

3 credits

Offered spring in odd-numbered years

Instructor: Vicki Watson

This course covers legal and scientific aspects of environmental impact analysis (EIA), including: What is required by international, national and state laws and regulations? How to organize an effective interdisciplinary team research effort and public process? How to produce an effective EIA document and meaningful and open decision process? What scientific tools are used in EIA? How could the EIA process be improved?

Each student writes two papers, one academic, one applied, on some aspect of EIA and gives at least one presentation. These papers can address an EIA document currently out for public review (or write your own version), critique methods, evaluate EIA procedures or policies, trace history of a concept or policy, or any other approved topic. Group research projects are encouraged.

3 credits

Offered intermittently

Instructor: Len Broberg

This course examines environmental law from the perspective of the non-lawyer activist seeking to evaluate the potential for legal action in support of environmental advocacy. The course briefly reviews judicial and executive branch structure and basic principles of administrative law and legal procedure. The remainder of the course reviews substantive environmental law with an emphasis on public land and natural resources law. Students will learn how to research a legal issue and interpret legal sources (case law, statutes, and regulations). Students will either complete a project with a grassroots organization or take a midterm and write a final paper.

3 credits

Offered intermittently in the fall

Instructor: Len Broberg

This course provides students with transboundary planning, policy and ecology experience. The course will review the political systems and administrative systems of the U.S. and Canada relevant to natural resource policy decision-making as well as the ecological systems in which they occur.  Students will work on a group project oriented to an issue spanning the Canada-United States border. Students will participate in a nine-day trip traversing the Rocky Mountains from Polebridge, Montana, to Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and will have the opportunity to meet and interact with stakeholders in the issue, review pertinent literature and work as a group to produce an integrated report for use by decision-makers and citizens on both sides of the border.

Courses Offered: LAW

3 credits

Offered fall

Instructor: Matthew McKinney

This course examines the basic framework for preventing and resolving natural resource and environmental conflicts in America. The course reviews the history of alternative approaches, emphasizes the theory and practice of collaboration, and considers future trends. This highly interactive course uses lectures, guest speakers, case studies, and simulations.

3 credits

Offered spring

Instructor: Michelle Bryan Mudd

An overview of the law of land use planning, this course examines traditional governmental regulatory land use tools (planning zoning, subdivision regulation), traditional governmental proprietary land use tools (infrastructure, transit, publicly owned facilities) and traditional government fiscal tools (differential tax assessments, special assessments, tax increment financing.) The course also examines modern techniques for land use planning including private techniques (conservation easements, land trusts, covenants) and government techniques (performance zoning, transfer of development rights, regional authorities). The course also considers constitutional limitations on the authority of state and local governments to regulate private land use. The course focuses on the skills of interpreting, drafting and applying state legislation and local ordinances.

1-6 credits

Offered fall and spring (prerequisite or corequiste ENST 561 or GPHY 561)

Instructor: Michelle Bryan Mudd ; Environmental Studies Advisor: Robin Saha

The Land Use Clinic is staffed by law students, graduate students in Environmental Studies, and students in land use planning in the Geography Department. Students work with city, town and county attorneys, local planning personnel and citizen boards, assisting them in long-range planning efforts and development of growth management plans, ordinance drafting and other land use issues. Students will travel periodically to the communities for which they are working to meet with local officials and to attend public hearings.

3 credits

Offered fall

Instructor: Martha Williams, Law School

The course introduces students to the ecological and economic theories underlying much of modern environmental law. The course also includes a brief review of common law theories of environmental protection and a basic introduction to administrative law. The major substantive topics are the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Several class sessions will consist of students working in mock law firms to represent competing interests in sophisticated problems involving the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

3 credits

Offered spring

Instructor: Martha Williams, Law School

Working in mock law firms assigned to represent competing interests, students will address sophisticated problems involving toxic substances, endangered species and environmental analysis. Students will prepare written memoranda and participate in mock proceedings on behalf of their "clients."

3 credits

Offered fall

Instructor: Martha Williams, Law School

Students examine how historic, political, and economic concepts shape our public land and natural resources law. Topics for classroom analysis include major policy areas of the federal government's management of public lands and natural resources; the evolving federal statutory and regulatory standards that govern the use of public resources; and federal legislative or administrative reforms.

2 credits

Offered spring

Instructor: Martha Williams, Law School

The people of Montana and the Pacific Northwest region enjoy a unique and unrivaled abundance of public natural resources. But differing visions of public land stewardship divides the citizens of this region. Students will analyze these competing visions of land stewardship in the context of four major public natural resource areas: minerals, wildlife; forests and wilderness. Students will assess how these competing land stewardship strategies impact or affect existing legal, economic and institutional arrangements. Students will evaluate emerging land and resource management theories that seek to accommodate or reconcile competing public and private interests in these public natural resource areas.

3 credits

Instructor: Michelle Bryan Mudd

This course examines the historical events, customs and policies that led to our current regulations governing the use and allocation of water. The course also examines modern-day water regulations and water-related issues—from water marketing, to instream flow, to tribal water rights and climate change.

The course compares the differences between water law in the eastern and western United States, and focusing on the Rocky Mountain West. Students will study the specific water laws of Montana, and will practice some of the primary skills needed to be a water lawyer, including researching and analyzing water rights, handling water rights in a real estate transaction, and appearing before the Montana Water Court in adjudication proceedings.

3 credits

Offered every semester (prerequisite ENST 513 or consent of instructor)

Instructor: Matt McKinney

This course is the capstone experience of the Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program. The course provides practical experience in multi-party collaboration and conflict resolution. Students may design their own project in consultation with the director of the NRCR Program, or participate in a project organized and convened by faculty. Projects may be conducted year-round. The practicum is repeatable.

Other Opportunities

Faculty

Len Broberg Professor, EVST Program Director

Office: JRH 107A
Email: len.broberg@mso.umt.edu
Field of Study:

Public interest scientist and lawyer. Conservation biology, environmental law and policy, climate change policy and adaptation, and transboundary conservation.


Robin Saha Associate Professor

Office: JRH 018
Email: robin.saha@umontana.edu