Law 438 - International Environmental Law and Policy

Edward A. Parson

Edward A. Parson

Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law, and
Faculty Co-Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
B.Sc. University College, University of Toronto, 1975
M.Sc. University of British Columbia, 1981
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1992
Course Description:

This course examines how society manages-–or fails to manage-–environmental issues that fall beyond the authority or capability of one national government.  Class sessions will be divided roughly equally between discussion of cases – specific international environmental issues-–and discussion of general and conceptual topics that cut across specific cases.   Cases will include extended consideration of current issues in the international management of global climate change, plus briefer discussions of some or all of stratospheric ozone depletion, long-range air pollution, protection of biological diversity, and management of global fisheries.  Conceptual sessions will include discussions of the historical development and causal structure of global environmental problems; of the conceptual foundations of international politics and international law; and of the common functions required for governance of any international environmental issue, e.g., interpretation and assessment of scientific knowledge, negotiation, establishment and management of international organizations, implementation of international commitments, and monitoring, reporting, and verification of compliance.  Time permitting, the course may include some discussion of linkages of environment to other international issues, e.g., trade, economic policy, security, and development.

Overall, the perspective of the course will be synthetic: it will seek to apply insights from research and scholarship to help advance practical understanding of what is happening, why, and how things might be done better.  The bridge between theory and practice will go both ways:  we will both use theoretical concepts to help understand specific issues, and use evidence from these issues to help criticize and refine theoretical claims.

Format: Classes include a few lectures, lots of discussion, plus a few structured simulations and other in-class exercises

Grading:  A couple of short papers (3-5 pages), one short in-class quiz, and a final paper (15-20 pages). 

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. Discuss knowledgeably the interplay of scientific, institutional, and legal factors that have shaped the development of the major current international environmental issues

2. Understand the distinct characteristics and limitations of the international legal and policy setting for management of environmental issues

3. Apply tools of legal, institutional, and policy analysis to generate and critique proposals for legal and policy response to international environmental issues

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Edward Parson 20S 438 LEC 1 TR 9:00 AM - 10:25 AM 3.0 No Yes