About this Course
4.8
766 ratings
257 reviews
Environmental law may be the one institution standing between us and planetary exhaustion. It is also an institution that needs to be reconciled with human liberty and economic aspirations. This course considers these issues and provides a tour though existing legal regimes governing pollution, water law, endangered species, toxic substances, environmental impact analyses, and environmental risk....
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100% online courses

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Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 4-6 hours/week

Approx. 12 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Skills you will gain

Environmental LawLawCommon LawEnvironmental Protection
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 4-6 hours/week

Approx. 12 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Common-Law Approaches to Environmental Problems

As the course does not presume any previous knowledge of the law or legal experience, it begins by teaching students how to “read” cases, to learn from judicial opinions in real-life disputes how judges articulate and apply legal principles. We focus on the law of nuisance, starting with cases involving simple disputes between neighbors, and then move to cases involving air and water pollution and even a very recent case on the introduction of exotic species into a river system! We end the week, as we’ll end every week, with a session spent on legal theory and policy, considering, this week, the relative strengths and weakness of the court system as an institution addressing environmental problems, in comparison to other institutions such as administrative regulators and the free-market system....
Reading
7 videos (Total 58 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video7 videos
1.1 One Minute Lawyer1m
1.2 Lecture Video14m
1.2 One Minute Lawyer 1m
1.3 Lecture Video12m
1.3 One Minute Lawyer 1m
1.4 Lecture Video13m
Reading3 readings
1.1 Case Readings10m
1.2 Case Readings10m
1.3 Case Readings10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 1 Quiz16m

2

Section
Clock
4 hours to complete

Property and the Environment

It’s impossible to understand environmental law without also understanding the important role that private property plays in people’s lives and the way in which property law recognizes these values. After using two cases involving property rights to water to introduce ourselves to property law, we’ll use the American constitutional approach to “takings” of property to determine when governments are forced to pay property-holders when environmental requirements infringe too much on private property rights. These cases are at the crux of an evolving philosophical dispute between whether we look at land merely as a personal commodity or as part of larger ecosystems that, often, demand recognition and require changes in personal behavior. In our “theory” session, we’ll introduce ourselves to a very powerful and famous economic model, the tragedy-of-the-commons model, that explains why markets often cannot adequately protect commonly held resources such as the oceans and atmosphere, and how legal regimes may be needed to correct the problem. We also post this week a peer-review essay exercise, which is mandatory for students wishing to obtain a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction....
Reading
7 videos (Total 63 min), 4 readings, 2 quizzes
Video7 videos
2.1 One Minute Lawyer1m
2.2 Lecture Video11m
2.2 One Minute Lawyer1m
2.3 Lecture Video15m
2.3 One Minute Lawyer1m
2.4 Lecture Video15m
Reading4 readings
2.1 Case Reading10m
2.2 Case Reading10m
2.3 Case Reading10m
2.4 Case Reading10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 2 Quiz16m

3

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Two Famous Statutory Programs: Environmental Impact Analysis and Endangered-Species Protection

This week we start with perhaps the most influential American environmental statute ever enacted, the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), and its requirement for environmental impact analysis of certain actions that might significantly affect the environment. Over 70 countries have enacted programs similar to this one. Then, we study perhaps the strongest American environmental statute ever enacted, the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and study cases under the ESA that are, among other things, at the cutting edge in the tension between private property and environmental protection. In our theory session, we begin to discuss issues of politics and political economy, and consider a range of topics in the political economy of environmental law....
Reading
7 videos (Total 69 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video7 videos
3.1 One Minute Lawyer1m
3.2 Lecture Video22m
3.2 One Minute Lawyer1m
3.3 Lecture Video10m
3.3 One Minute Lawyer1m
3.4 Lecture Video15m
Reading3 readings
3.1 Case Reading10m
3.2 Case Reading10m
3.3 Case Reading10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 3 Quiz16m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Risk Analysis and Toxic Substances: Pesticides, Trade Disputes over Synthetic Hormones, and the Cleanup of Contaminated Sites

This week we shift from land-use-related issues to the central role that “risk” plays in the regulation of toxic substances, pollution-control, and environmental law generally. We begin with an analysis of a regulatory decision involving 2,4,5-T, the active ingredient in herbicides (and in the notorious “Agent Orange” herbicide used by the United States in the Vietnam War), and learn how concerns over the “risk” of harm amplify the power of environmental law. We then analyze the role risk played in an ongoing dispute between the United States and Canada (on the one hand) and the European Community (on the other) over synthetic growth hormones given to cattle in North America. We shift to considerations of risk in the clean-up of sites contaminated with hazardous substances under a famous American statute, the so-called “Superfund” statute. in our theory session, we look at two economic dimensions of risk that explain why people rationally concern themselves with worst-case possibilities and also concern themselves with how risk is fairly (or unfairly) distributed....
Reading
7 videos (Total 69 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video7 videos
4.1 One Minute Lawyer1m
4.2 Lecture Video14m
4.2 One Minute Lawyer1m
4.3 Lecture Video 16m
4.3 One Minute Lawyer1m
4.4 Lecture Video17m
Reading3 readings
4.1 Case Reading10m
4.2 Case Reading10m
4.3 Case Reading10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 4 Quiz 16m
4.8
Direction Signs

18%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By LHApr 20th 2018

Incredible course with an engaging professor who makes you want to learn more with every lesson.\n\nThe best course I saw on Coursera and exactly what I would appreciate in any course, online or not.

By TUNov 8th 2015

I was very satisfied with this course because it described the system and policy regarding Environmental Law in U.S., and provided the relationship between the current law and conventional nuisance.

Instructor

Donald Hornstein

Aubrey L. Brooks Professor of Law

About The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is known around the world for innovative teaching and research. Regularly ranked as the nation’s best value for academic quality, UNC has produced the most Rhodes Scholars for the past 25 years among U.S. public research universities....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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