UVic Law launches new Environmental Law and Sustainability Program

- Thomas Winterhoff

Law students at the University of Victoria will soon be able to participate in a new Environmental Law and Sustainability Program, thanks to a $2.75-million grant from the Quadra Island-based Tula Foundation. The non-profit organization is dedicated to environmental sustainability, public service, research and teaching. UVic has also signed an innovative affiliation agreement with the foundation’s Hakai Beach Institute to develop future research and learning opportunities for UVic students.

Upper-year law students who are accepted into the new Environmental Law and Sustainability Program will participate in a clinical program and take courses focused on this important and growing field of legal study—such as water law, municipal law and sustainability, forest law, energy law and sustainability, and interdisciplinary courses in law and environmental science.

As the program develops, students will have the opportunity to enrol in summer session courses based at the Hakai Beach Institute, a teaching, research and conference centre located on Calvert Island. The institute’s 87-hectare facility is in the heart of BC’s spectacular and ecologically sensitive Great Bear Rainforest.

Students who successfully complete the Environmental Law and Sustainability Program requirements will have that designation noted on their Juris Doctor degrees.

The Tula Foundation has provided financial support to the Faculty of Law and the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) for the past five years. The enhanced funding agreement announced on Feb. 17 will extend this commitment for another five years and significantly expand UVic Law’s teaching and research capacity.

“This new agreement is a remarkable opportunity for our students,” says Dean Donna Greschner. “The Tula Foundation’s support since 2006 gives our students the best clinical education in environmental law. With this new agreement, the students will now also have the best program in environmental law and sustainability in the country—bar none. The dedicated professors, lawyers and staff involved with the Environmental Law Centre have taught students how to protect the environment and make a difference in the world. The new commitment by the Tula Foundation will support and expand this important work at the Faculty of Law."

The Environmental Law Centre was established in 1996 and is Canada’s leading clinical program in environmental law. It has remained in the forefront of environmental law reform and public interest advocacy in this country and has delivered an unparalleled standard of education to hundreds of UVic Law students. Many lawyers who currently practise environmental law in BC and across the country honed their skills in the ELC’s clinical program.

Professor Chris Tollefson, the centre’s founding executive director, has been appointed the inaugural Hakai Chair in Environmental Law and Sustainability. Professor Deborah Curran, who has been project director at the centre, is the inaugural Hakai Professor in Environmental Law and Sustainability. The Tula Foundation agreement will also fund a third teaching position at UVic Law in the area of environmental law and sustainability.

“This new concentration will feature some of the most innovative environmental law and policy-related courses ever offered at a Canadian law school,” says Tollefson. “Its launch will ensure that UVic Law remains at the forefront of Canadian environmental legal education and a destination of choice for law students from across Canada.”


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Keywords: new, environmental, law, progr

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