Environmental Law

The College of Law is situated at a world-class research institution dedicated to sustainability, with renowned faculty working on groundbreaking environmental issues. Few law schools can compete with Illinois’ breadth of environmental offerings or its commitment to environmental teaching. 

Coursework: Beyond the Ordinary

Illinois routinely offers courses in Environmental Law, Administrative Law, and Natural Resources—the backbone of an environmental law curriculum. The College also offers a variety of advanced environmental electives, including courses such as: Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Environmental Policy; Ethics, Law, and the Environment; and many more. 

Distinctively, Illinois also has a history of offering innovative environmental courses that exhibit its commitment to hands-on teaching and its research-based approach to solving environmental problems. In recent years these have included: 

  • Costa Rica: A Case Study in Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development, an intersession course taking students through the jungles, mountains, and beaches of Costa Rica to examine first-hand the success with which the country has promoted environmental sustainability. 
  • Energy and Natural Resource Transactions, a course for exploring the relationship between contract law and the management of natural resources, is designed to give students the tools they need to start a career in the thriving field of transactional natural resources law. 
  • Applied Environmental Law, a course presenting students with a variety of current, real-world applications of environmental law, working with lawyers and assisting non-profit environmental organizations, government agencies, and other entities engaged in environmental work. 

Joint Degree Program

Students with an interest in environmental law can earn a Juris Doctor of Law degree and Master of Science degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the same time through an innovative joint degree program at the University of Illinois. This unique collaboration between the College of Law and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) allows students to supplement their law studies with training in a related scientific field.

To enter the Law/NRES degree program, students must gain admission into both programs separately and complete the requirements of both programs. They may, however, count up to 12 hours of NRES course work toward the required 90 hours of Law course work. They may also receive 8 hours of credit toward the 32 hours required for the M.S. degree by completing relevant course work in Law.

For more information, visit the NRES Joint Degree website.

Faculty Innovation and the Environment

The strength of any law school can be measured by its faculty, and Illinois boasts faculty members exploring some of the most exciting frontiers of environmental law. Faculty research projects often provide students with opportunities to participate in groundbreaking environmental research. Recent projects include: 

  • Professor Heidi Hurd (environmental ethics, environmental management) led a project researching the impacts of climate change and sustainable development. 
  • Professor Arden Rowell (environmental regulation, comparative environmental law), working on a Department of Energy grant, co-directed an interdisciplinary team working to figure out safer ways to manage nuclear power and nuclear waste. 
  • Professor Lesley Wexler (international environmental law) and Professor Arden Rowell led a project researching how international environmental law treats victims of foreign disasters. 

Additional Student Opportunities