NELC Fellow Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of Earth Law Center, teaches this Summer Term course at VLS
Climate change and other global threats are increasingly illustrating the limits of our existing environmental laws to stem degradation. This course posits that environmental declines will continue until we address a fundamental assumption underlying our legal system: that humans are separate from the natural world and may treat it as property to be exploited, rather than as a connected ecological partner. The course will critically examine the sources of this assumption and its impacts on preventing us from achieving a healthy, thriving planet. It will then describe legal, economic, and other governance systems that recognize the inherent rights of the natural world to exist, thrive, and evolve, and it will discuss how such systems can be implemented to advance lasting sustainability. Specific applications will be highlighted, debated, and practiced.