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ClinicFacultyWelcome to the Widener Environmental Law Center’s website. ( Also, be sure to visit our companion Environmental Law Center Blog site & the Climate Change Law: Mitigation & Adaptation Site)

The Environmental Law Center will harness the expertise of the seven environmental law faculty we have on Widener’s Harrisburg and Wilmington campuses to benefit both our students and the public.  Our faculty has a national and international reputation for teaching and scholarship on the critical environmental policy questions of the 21st century, generating more than 150 law review and scholarly articles, hundreds of presentations before national and international symposia and conferences, 25 book chapters, and eight books that have broken new ground in sustainability, climate change, environmental citizen suits, energy, international law, toxic torts, and constitutional law.

The Center will create new opportunities to engage our students and the faculty in the practical problems faced by state and local government and the practicing bar.   We will propose, advocate, and evaluate the effectiveness of laws relating to the environment, energy, and climate change, and help public and private decision makers solve legal problems concerning these subjects.   We will also help prospective and current students engage in environmental law while they are at Widener, through clinics, coursework, externships, and other activities.  We will also better help students prepare for careers in environmental law, climate change and energy opportunities that will become more numerous and challenging in the years ahead.

Law For Sustainability

John Dernbach

Professor John Dernbach

The Center’s credo is “Law for Sustainability.”  The Center will attempt to answer–through scholarship, teaching, applied research, special projects, and clinical programs–the question of how law can and should be used to achieve sustainability.  The urgency of the task before us requires this kind of engaged effort:  providing information, tools, skills, and ideas that policy makers, practicing lawyers, law students, and future lawyers can use to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainability.

Jim May

Professor Jim May

Sustainable development provides a framework for humans to live and prosper in harmony with nature rather than at nature’s expense.  Nonetheless, sustainability does not now have an adequate or supportive legal foundation, in spite of the many environmental and natural resources laws that exist.  If we are to make significant progress toward a sustainable society, much less achieve sustainability, we need to develop and implement new or modified laws and legal institutions.  Government, business, and nongovernmental organizations increasingly demand legal work that addresses sustainable development issues.

On this website, you will find information about the Environmental Law Center and links to much more.  I hope you will join with us in shaping environmental law and policy in the 21st century.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please let us know. 

John Dernbach & Jim May, co-directors

What You Will Find Here

Widener Law has been a leader in the field of environmental, energy and resources law for nearly twenty years.  The Environmental Law Center will build upon and enhance these strengths in order to keep Widener Law at the cutting edge of environmental law.  On this site you will find out more about many aspects of the Center, including:

  • Broad and Diverse Faculty – Meet the 7 full-time Widener faculty members whose work is the core of the ELC.  They teach a wide variety of courses in areas of environmental, energy, and resources law, and speak on cutting edge issues.  You will find links to their extensive scholarship on environmental issues like Climate Change, Sustainability, International Environmental Law, Constitutional Environmental Law, Environmental Citizen Suits, and Toxic Torts.
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic – Discover the extensive work of one of the nation’s oldest clinics devoted to environmental law, where since 1989 Widener students have been “Preparing to Practice While Protecting the Planet,” as well as the extensive Clinic resources available to potential clients and interested individuals.  The  Widener Environmental Help Line run by the Clinic provides advice and preparation for self-representation for Pennsylvania citizens confronting environmental problems.
  • Student Opportunities – Discover the numerous ways that the ELC helps Widener students play a central role in environmental law.  Hundreds of students have studied the emerging and critical issues in environmental, energy, and resources law, and many have gone on to hold prominent positions in federal, state, and local government and private practice.
  • Shaping Environmental Law and Policy – Explore on a more topical basis the work of the ELC and its faculty in helping to create and guide environmental law and policy.
  • Community Service and Involvement – Learn about the numerous ways the ELC and its faculty are impacting local, regional, national and international communities.  Widener is enrolled in the ABA-EPA Climate Challenge program.

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