Graduate Certificate in Environmental Law and Policy

The EI offers a graduate certificate in environmental law and policy to environmental and policy professionals.
This graduate certificate offers a credential in environmental law and policy for individuals with a background in various science, engineering, social science and humanities fields who wish to understand the theory and practice of environmental and natural resource law at the national, comparative or international level. It is especially valuable for those in environmental fields who come in contact with the law in the course of their work, to policy makers at all levels of government who routinely handle legal affairs, to lawyers without specific training in environmental law, and to business people who want to know what the law says about the legality of their business’ impact on the natural environment. The certificate also can be preparation for further studies in law, policy, or politics or for professional positions in the private or public sector. Certificate courses can be counted toward the M.A. Degree in Environmental Policy Design, as appropriate.

Who should have a Certificate?

Overall, because the certificate is designed to enhance a person's existing working knowledge in the environment with a new expertise in legal and policy analysis, it would be of interest to anyone who wants basic and practical training in environmental law, for new career directions, or for application to their existing profession. Designed for practicing professionals, classes are scheduled evenings. The certificate should be of interest to professionals already working in:
  • The environmental arena
  • Law
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Sciences
  • Policy-makers at all levels of government who must routinely handle legal affairs.

Admission Criteria

  • The certificate assumes no specific legal background
  • Open to those with a background in either the social or natural sciences (or both)
  • Required BA/BS or its equivalent including at least two courses in the social sciences and two courses in the natural sciences or mathematics, as well as competence in English 


The certificate program requires 4 courses with 1 course from each of the 2 core groups and 2 other courses from either the core groups or electives selected in consultation with the program advisor. No more than 6 credits can be taken at the 300 level and the certificate must be completed in a maximum of 3 years.
Core Courses In Environmental Law
ES 431 U.S. Environmental Law I: Pollution & Risk Abatement (3)
ES 432 U.S. Environmental Law II: Natural Resources & Public Lands (3)
ES 433 International Environmental Law & Policy (3)
ES 443 Comparative Environmental Law & Policy (3)
Core Courses In Policy Analysis, Valuation & The Law
ES 401 Philosophical-Policy and Environmental Legal Design (3)
ES 435 Environmental Valuation For Policy Design & Legal Analysis (3)
ES/PS 455 Environmental Justice & the Law (3)
ES 497 Information Ecology (3)

Elective Courses

Elective courses will usually be chosen from existing Environmental Studies, Environmental Science or Environmental Engineering courses (ES, EES or CEE) at the 300/400 level in consultation with the program advisor. While students are encouraged to choose their elective courses from ES core offerings, they may select a specific elective pertinent to their studies or background in consultation with their advisor.

Courses Offered

ES 401 Philosophical-Policy and Environmental Legal Design (3)
A basic class for graduate students on the idea of policy design, as opposed to standard economic analysis of public policy and its application to various domestic and international environmental dilemmas. The course will also introduce the idea of Philosophical-Policy, or the use of integrated philosophical systems to justify specific policy design arguments, through the use of two distinct theoretical paradigms that focus on, specifically, the integrity of the natural environment and the capabilities of humans in relation to ecosystems. Gillroy/ Holland.
ES 431. U.S. Environmental Law I: Pollution and Risk Abatement (3)
The study of bureaucracy and problems of public and nonprofit organization and management; executive leadership; personnel management systems and regulatory administration. Gillroy
ES 432. U.S. Environmental Law II: Natural Resources & Public Lands (3)
This course combines a study of natural resources law with an understanding of the politics and legal processes that create, change, and regulate the economic use of nature. It studies extraction law from two models of regulation: the Market Sector Approach and the Ecosystem Approach. Using these two standards for charting the relationship between humanity and nature, students will analyze timber, water, mineral extraction, public lands regulations, wildlife, wilderness and federal planning and environmental impact assessment in terms of their ethical, political, economic and policy components. Gillroy
ES 433 International Environmental Law & Policy (3)
This course examines the basic international legal setting for the protection and management of the global environment. It examines how international law concerning nature is made and applied, the role of international environmental regimes or institutions, enforcement strategies, and compliance mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on a review of various regulatory regimes for the protection of the global commons, including the history and legal sources of the Global Climate Change Convention. Gillroy
ES 435. Environmental Valuation For Policy Design & Legal Analysis (3)
Reviewing the history and legal context that gave rise to the current use of the “contingent valuation method” for pricing environmental resources, this course assesses empirical and normative strengths of this method, as well as the weaknesses that challenge its effectiveness and political legitimacy. Students will evaluate the recent turn to “deliberative” methods of resource valuation and consider empirical and normative problems that deliberative methods address. Holland.
ES 443 Comparative Environmental Law & Policy (3)
This course studies the different ways in which domestic legal systems handle the regulation of humanity’s relationship to the natural world. The first part of the course concentrates on comparative law that examines the evolution of distinct types of legal systems from their origins in the ancient world. The second part of the course specifically and comparatively examines environmental law as it has developed in Canada, China, the European Union and the United States. Ranges of alternatives for environmental law and policy as practiced in various parts of the world will be explored. Gillroy
ES/PS 455 Environmental Justice and the Law (3)
This course explores the various ways in which environmental law and policy can have discriminatory effects. It examines the rise and evolution of environmental justice movement, and the impact of environmental justice claims on administrative rule making at state and federal level. Reviewing the history of case law concerning environmental justice suits filed under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it also examines the future of environmental justice in environmental law and policy. Holland
ES/SSP 497. Information Ecology (3)
Information theory, critical theory, systems theory, and ecological principles are used to model individual cognition, social organization and human ecosystems. Course concepts are applied to environmental policy analysis using case studies. Casagrande.