The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

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UT Law School Classes - Summer 2008

Comparative Environmental Law

Instructor: Benjamin Credits: 2 Course ID: S241P Unique #82065
     Day    Time   Location
   Monday 2:00 pm - 4:20 pm CCJ 3.306
   Tuesday 2:00 pm - 4:20 pm CCJ 3.306
   Wednesday 2:00 pm - 4:20 pm CCJ 3.306
   Thursday 2:00 pm - 4:20 pm CCJ 3.306
   Friday 2:00 pm - 4:20 pm CCJ 3.306
Exam Type    Test Date Time      Name Range Regular Room Extegrity Room
  Final Monday, August 11 8:30 am -   A-Z
  2.124
  2.124
Registration Information
This course is restricted to upper division students only.

Description
Objectives.  The course intends to give the student basic knowledge on some of the most important environmental issues of the world, enabling her to analyze and understand the different forms of environmental regulation and legal solutions adopted in various countries and legal systems.

The purpose of the course is not to train the student on international environmental law or on national environmental law from specific countries, but rather to provide the means to identify the major environmental problems in any jurisdiction and come up with reasonable solutions which could be applied worldwide.

Students who plan to work for multilateral organizations, multinational corporations, international NGOs and major law firms with international clients will benefit the most from the topics covered.  The course will also provide those who intend to practice Environmental Law and Policy in the United States a better understanding of the rationales for the national solutions and mechanisms adopted to face environmental problems.

The course is divided into five (not necessarily equal) parts:  (1) foundations of Environmental Law and Policy, (2) constitutional basis for environmental protection, (3) property rights and the environment, (4) legal dimension of sustainable development, and (8) environmental regulation and enforcement.

Part 1 is a general introduction to the course in which the main characteristics, regulatory approaches, objectives, principles and tools of Environmental Law and Policy are discussed from a comparative and international perspective.

Part 2 mainly asks the question whether we need a constitutional clause to adequately protect the environment.  The examples of some U.S.  States, Mexico, the European Union Treaty, and the cases of countries like Germany, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Brazil, Russia, Colombia and South Africa will be covered.

Part 3 will deal with the relationship between property rights and the protection of the environment, from both an international and domestic perspective, benefiting from the current debate in the U.S.  and Europe.  It will survey issues such as a) the concept of property rights in the enviromental protection age; b) the just compensation doctrine; c) regulatory takings; d) the German concept of "social obligation" inherent in ownership; e) the notion of "environmental function" of property; and, f) the international implications of the American "wise use" movement.

Part 4 will study the concept of sustainability and the role of and challenges to law in securing sustainable development.  It will cover the recent developments in that particular topic, stressing the analysis of the intergenerational equity concept, as well as the precautionary, the polluter- pays and the user-pays principles.  In this segment of the course, the results of the Rio +10 Conference (Johannesburg 2002) will be discussed.

Part 5 intends to examine, from a comparative perspective, the challenging global problem of environmental enforcement.  Environmental citizen and class actions will be reviewed and also the role of criminal sanctions, the judiciary and non-governmental organizations.

Methodology.  The course will use four types of learning tools:  a) legal (and also non-legal) texts; b) long distance conference call discussions; c) short- presentations by students; d) lectures by guests.  Reading materials.  There is no single book that covers the subject matter in full detail.  The course will use reading materials from different authors, most of them Americans.  The texts written by foreign authors will be in English.  If necessary, readings listed will be supplemented from time to time.

Long distance conference calls.  During the course there will be one or two long- distance conference-call discussions among the students and the author of one of the articles or chapters of books assigned.  In the previous years scholars from the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Austria, Italy and Germany joined the discussions.

Grading.  Grades will be determined primarily on the basis of a final examination, but substantial weight will also be given to class participation (15 percent) and short-presentations (20 percent).

Prerequisites.  There are no prerequisites.  The students are not expected to have taken Environmental Law, International Law, Comparative Law or Environmental Policy.  However, previous knowledge in those areas would be useful.

Related Course Areas