ENVIRON 462 - Topics in Environmental Social Science
Fall 2020, Section 006 - Environmental Rights, Justice, and Law
Instruction Mode: Section 006 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Program in the Environment (ENVIRON)
Department: SNE Program in the Environment
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Advisory Prerequisites:
At least one environmentally related course prior to this class.
May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit(s).
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:


This course explores how our current legal system contributes to environmental problems and solutions. Through a series of case studies, we will first understand how the legal system builds on conceptions of individuality, property, sovereignty, and commodification to create environmental destruction and injustice. The case studies include the degradation of the Colorado River over the past century, the future of the Arctic region under climate change in the next century, and the present and ongoing taking of human life in the Flint water crisis. We will then explore alternative approaches to environmental law, including natural rights, community stewardship, and human rights protected under the Constitution. While the course does not provide a detailed survey of U.S. environmental law, it teaches the fundamental concepts of environmental law and the U.S. legal system to understand both the status quo and need for change. Students will gain a deep and conceptual understanding of modern environmental law — the values and assumptions it’s based upon, how it works (or doesn’t work) in various settings, and what must be changed for the law to play its needed role in making a more just and sustainable society.

Course Requirements:

Course requirements include:

  1. Attending class having done the assigned reading;
  2. Participation in class discussions and leading several class discussions as assigned; and
  3. Completion of written assignments, including several analytic papers throughout the semester and a final paper.
  4. Readings will include books, articles, reports, and primary materials (cases and statutes) to be assigned.

    Intended Audience:

    Juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

    Class Format:

    Learning Mode: As a DC (Distance due to COVID) course, all aspects of this course will be fully compatible with remote online learning.

    Instruction Mode: Weekly class meetings will take place fully online through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous participation. The schedule of synchronous class meetings will be in the final syllabus and is subject to change by the instructor. Students will be notified of any changes as necessary.


ENVIRON 462 - Topics in Environmental Social Science
Schedule Listing
002 (LEC)
 In Person
W 5:30PM - 8:00PM
006 (LEC)
M 11:30AM - 2:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for ENVIRON 462 (UM login required)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)