Happy New Year and welcome to a new semester at the Executive LL.M. Program. As you can see from our Happy Holidays from the ELLM Office post there have been many developments over the past year. One of these developments was the addition of the addition of the International Environmental and Energy Law Concentration (IEEC). This past fall semester we had our first ELLM student participate in the Environmental Law course offered through this partnership.
Stefan Greimel recently completed the Environmental Law course offered in conjunction with Vermont Law School and we took this opportunity to talk to him about his experience.
The course provided an overview of some of the major environmental statutes in the United States, addressed the variety of regulatory tools and concepts that can be used to prevent environmental harm, focusing on the proper match between regulatory tools and environmental harm, and explored the role of other disciplines (e.g., science) and alternative means (e.g., public awareness) to facilitate changes in environmental policy. In addition to the core subject matter, Stefan was gratified that “I also learned quite a lot about U.S. administrative law in general.”
While Environmental Law is not a core area of interest for Stefan, he took the course because he finds value in exploring new areas of law that challenge him. He found the subject of the course intellectually interesting, but more importantly the approaches and tools used to find solutions to the assigned problems were very valuable for his professional development. Like many students, Stefan was concerned about missing something by taking a completely online course, but the design and pace of the Vermont Law School online environment alleviated his concerns.
With respect to the course content and pedagogy, Stefan noted that “In particular I appreciated the group work in module 2, where in the course of a case study we looked at the challenges in dealing with the environmental and public health impacts of a landfill and considered what avenues community members might pursue in their efforts to abate the harm, where we were encouraged to think creatively about innovative legal and non-legal solutions, also considering the applicable statutory language. This provided the greatest insight how a lawyer would work on an environmental issue, and I got a lot out of this module in terms of how to argue a case. To work together with my colleagues on this case was a great experience, too.” He was impressed with the structure of the course and enjoyed the group format of the discussions and the assignments, saying “the group experience added something special to the course” and “it was a very positive group environment that challenges you.” One aspect of the course Stefan found particularly compelling was the format of the assignments each week. For example, the format changed from individual assignments to group assignments, and the type and length of the assignments varied depending on the week. This broke up the work and encouraged communication with classmates, whom Stefan found to be very engaged and capable.
Overall, Stefan’s experience was that the course was very challenging but rewarding, and he agreed that taking more than one intensive 7 week course at a time would be a very difficult task for someone working full-time. On average he spent 15-20 hours a week on reading and assignments, as the course covered material normally spread out over a 15 week semester. A few tips Stefan gives for managing the workload: spread out the reading and assignments over the work week and start the reading of the materials at the beginning of every week; start to work on the assignment in the middle of the week and finalize the assignments during the weekend, if the schedule allows you to do so (sometimes it was required to post assignments on Thursday or Friday). He said “there is just too much material to get through if you do not pace yourself and start early” and attempting to do all the course work on the weekend would be too onerous. While it was a busy schedule with firm deadlines, Stefan noted there was some room for accommodation: “during one week I had a conflict with work and the faculty was flexible enough to allow me an extra day.”
As our first ELLM ‘graduate’ of an IEEC course, Stefan was very pleased with the experience which he described as ”enriching”, and recommends his fellow ELLM students consider taking one or two of these courses as they provide flexibility in program scheduling and subject content, and offer an interesting addition to the overall ELLM curriculum. For more information about the IEEC or any of the other courses offered through the ELLM program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to Stefan for sharing with us his experiences with this course, and we hope your new year has started off well. We look forward to hearing from you soon!