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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2,893 ratings

About the Course

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. Note: The Environmental Law & Policy Course will close for new learner enrollment on February 22, 2019. Learners who have already enrolled will continue to see it on their Coursera Dashboard as long as they remain enrolled in the course. If you are currently enrolled in this course, please see the announcement sent on February 19, 2019, for additional details....

Top reviews


Apr 19, 2018

Incredible course with an engaging professor who makes you want to learn more with every lesson.

The best course I saw on Coursera and exactly what I would appreciate in any course, online or not.


Jun 2, 2020

Really great class. Covers all the main topics of environmental law. The Professor is very interesting, informative, and clear. A great introductory class for environmental topics in the legal realm.

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1 - 25 of 785 Reviews for Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy

By Marissa J

Jan 10, 2019

An extremely interesting course, especially if you are interested in environmental issues. I loved taking this class and feel like I am more likely to pursue more courses like this in the future.

By Divya K

Aug 15, 2017

Being an environmentalist in any form, weather an activist, engineer, or scientist, in case of me, being an engineer, its very important to understand environmental laws and policies. This course has helped me in just that. I am very sure that knowledge I have gained through these sessions will help me in advancing my career of Environmental Engineering. Professor Hornstein has taught so well, that its impossible to forget any concepts. His way of delivering his ideas and lectures is commendable. Thank you so much for offering this course.

By Ricardo S

Aug 3, 2020

Regarding the Course : Great introduction to Environmental Law and Policy. Professor Hornstein does a very good job at balancing theory with practical examples of application of Environmental Law. He also provides a small yet sufficient introduction to practice of law in general in both the US and internationally to be able to comprehend the implications of the cases discussed. Terrifying to note though that some within the American political sphere are actively attempting to repeal/dismantle the key pieces of Law/Policy that are reviewed throughout this course.

Additional context: I have no previous background in Law, thus my comments are to be taken from the perspective of someone new to this practice. Course completed in August 2020 in the midst of a pandemic and what appears to be a crisis of Democratic institutions in the US.

By Dave T

Dec 27, 2017

Thank you very much for a valuable course!

Professor Hornstein was engaging and informative. He did a great job of demonstrating principles and presenting key historical examples of case law. He also provided very useful outlines of the most important elements of the most important environmental laws and treaties, and practical examples of how they are applied. This course overall provided me a better understanding of law and policy, and of particular interest to me, the interplay of administrative agency actions to court decisions, especially with regard to court deference to agency authority to make policy decisions. I also found the discussions of the ties between societal values and law very useful.

This will be very helpful to me in my work as both an environmental scientist working on California and Federal pesticide/pest management policy, and as an elected official with a public power agency working on reducing GHG emissions.

By Richard K M

Jun 22, 2017

This is an excellent course, and has been a superior learning experience. Professor Hornstein is a wonderful, knowledgeable, and passionate instructor, and I so appreciate the privilege of access to expertise and wisdom. I've taken several other Coursea on-line courses that I've enjoyed, but thus far I must consider this one the best.

I still have significant concerns about the quality of the video transcripts; they are in need of an additional careful copy edit and final proofread by persons experienced and with a good ear for the subject matter. But I found it a learning opportunity in correcting and marking up my personal copies as a study tool. This time out, course content and direction, and of course Professor Hornstein's wonderful quality of instruction, must override any reservations I might otherwise have.

This is truly a Five-Star course. Congratulations to all involved!

By Marietta c l

Apr 5, 2016

Don Hornstein is a very engaging instructor in his lectures, which makes watching the videos a breeze. I wish there was more though for reading materials. I gave the course five stars because it does as it states, it is an very brief introduction into Environmental law. However, I feel there are things lacking that can be improved upon, like written work and more in depth study.

Perhaps a specialization where the subjects are taught in courses of 4 weeks, where they go in more depth. Such as common law and nuisance, wildlife protection act, clean water act, and air pollution. Then finishing off with a capstone project. If a specialization was offered, I would sign up. I feel the missing requirement of coursework beyond the quizzes is detrimental to my retaining the information learned.

By Leda H

Apr 20, 2018

Incredible course with an engaging professor who makes you want to learn more with every lesson.

The best course I saw on Coursera and exactly what I would appreciate in any course, online or not.

By Phil C

Nov 15, 2017

This is a great course, the lectures are engaging and interesting and Professor Hornstein is very informative. The course follows a logical sequence and each of the very short readings of court cases builds on, or is referenced in later readings which makes the course easy to follow. I had wished there were a couple of weeks of more content covering major environmental issues that have occurred since 2013, i.e. the Clean Power Plan, DAPL protests/court cases, EPA/Flint Michigan court cases, and the Paris Agreement. If this were added, or in follow-up course I would jump at the chance to enroll. Great course, I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in the Environment, Law, Environmental Policy and those with backgrounds in Geography (like me), Environmental Science, Earth Science, or Environmental Studies.

By Ken P

Jan 24, 2016

As a state government employee in environmental protection, I found this course to be extremely helpful in understanding the history of environmental common and statutory law. Professor Don Hornstein is extremely knowledgeable and well spoken on every topic he covers and is clearly passionate about his work. The assigned readings are interesting and illustrate the evolution of environmental law very well. Professor Hornstein's commentary encompasses these readings well and extends further to provide a better contextual understanding of each. The assignments are straightforward for anyone who completes the readings and watches the videos and help with retention of the lessons. Overall, the course was very good for those wanting a general knowledge of Environmental Law, and Professor Hornstein is a very fine teacher!


Aug 8, 2016

This course is a solid introduction to Environmental Law, a topic where it's exceedingly easy to get lost in the weeds, so to speak. The instructor for this course is simply delightful. High energy and engaging, it's clear that no matter who the named parties are in a case, the ultimate client is the environment. If I had had the opportunity to take a brief survey course like this one when I was starting college back in the 1980s, I might well have gone into this field as a profession. Excellent course!

I did not participate in the forums, so I cannot speak to the value that they may or may not have brought to the course. I did, however, do all the reading, and I think it's important to have students understand how to parse out meaning and significance from these often dry documents.

By Fazla Z A

Aug 11, 2020

Really great class. Covers all the main topics of environmental law. The Professor is very interesting, informative, and clear. A great introductory class for environmental topics in the legal realm.

By Christianne Z

Jan 27, 2021

A very basic introductory intro to environmental law. You won't become a lawyer overnight, but it does lay out some basics. It's also heavily US-based, so keep that in mind. Lectures are concise but informative, and the lecturer keeps things lively with his outfits.

By Dr. J S

May 22, 2020

The Course has helped me to familiarise with the various Environmental Legislations and Regulatory Bodies both at the State(s) and Federal level in the USA. The various Landmark Judgements on Environmental Law both nationally (USA), and Internationally. To have an insight on the policy making, the various parameters, approaches employed to remedy the environmental concerns, to appreciate State(s)/Nation's sovereignty with regard to Federal/ International Commitments through agreements, Protocols, Conventions. Also improve on Research Skills through knowledge of various e-databases on environmental law and Tests and Research Assignment.

My most sincere thanks to Prof. Donald Hornstein, Prof. Aubrey L. Brooks, UNC, School of law and Coursera for their endeavour.

By Sameen J

Jan 24, 2021

An excellent course, easily among the best courses I have studied on Coursera. The content of the course is comprehensive and covers a variety of topics related to environmental law and policy. The real gem of this course is the case readings and how Professor Hornstein uses them in the lectures to increase our understanding of the topics. Professor Hornstein himself is an excellent instructor - he teaches really well and comes across as engaging and passionate about environmental law. I thoroughly enjoyed this course, and I wish it would have been longer. Nevertheless, as the course's name suggests- it serves as a perfect and valuable introduction to environmental law and policy.

Thank you Professor Hornstein and the rest of the team!

By Snehal S P

Aug 29, 2020

I loved taking this course and I am glad I decided to take it. It has increased my knowledge to a great extent and gave me an interest in the environment law both nationally and internationally. During the course, in India, there introduced an amendment in the Environmental Impact Assessment draft of 2006 and it was not only violating the environmental laws but also the human rights. With the help of this course, I was able to write an article with the new draft notification of 2020 introduced by the Central government in India and also published it. I am so grateful to Professor Donald T. Hornstein. He explained the course so well.

By May B

Nov 26, 2021

An excellent course! I think this is my favorite course on Coursera so far. I have worked for two years in an air pollution policy agency and have been interested in learning more about environmental law and policy, and this course was perfect for doing that. Professor Hornstein is a really engaging teacher and clearly enthusiastic about environmental law and policy; I also appreciated his approach in also providing the (more casual) one-minute lawyer videos and the (more formal) theory videos, which I thought allowed me to think about the material in different ways. And, I liked how each module is structured around a case study. Although it's not organized this way, I recommend folks read each case study first before watching the accompanying videos in order to reinforce and summarize what you've read. A lot of the in-video questions were also great at helping me think critically. I'd highly recommend this course to everyone; it's really well designed and I think would be interesting even for folks who don't work around environmental law and policy.

By Edaliza G

May 23, 2017

An introduction to environmental law that I think will be comprehensible for people without any background in law while at the same time will also be able to hold their interest because of the relevance of the issues presented to current environmental problems. I'm a lawyer with a background in economics and appreciated the fact that the course melds the two subjects together in some instances when talking about policy considerations. I am not from the US so it was also interesting to find out more about US environmental law and most importantly, how it was shaped. It encouraged me to reflect on the state of environmental law in my own country, the Philippines, and to think about how environmental legislation could be improved in the future.

By Richard A S

Aug 22, 2018

Great course! Prof Hornstein is a wonderful lecturer with true passion for his subject. I took this course as an expat looking to gain an understanding of US environmental law. I have been provided with a more than adequate introduction to common law, constitutional law and statutory law. Beyond that, the prof has provided valuable and engaging insights into economics, policy and how market mechanisms could be used to affect environmental decision making. Truly an added benefit beyond what I was expecting. I cannot recommend this course too highly. It borders on mandatory 'reading' and would be valuable to almost anyone with an interest in our future. Thanks to UNC, Prof Hornstein and his team!

By Patricia S

Dec 10, 2017

I’m agreeably surprised with this course, both for the contents, clear and well-structured and for the professor Hornstein, a really wise and nice man, always making sure of letting the concepts clear while showing practical examples which comprises the birth of environmental law as we know it. I also appreciate his environmentalist and technical approach, his vision of ethics, common good and its relationship with the environment. As an environmental consultant, writing EU H2020 projects I believe this vision is essential to embrace environment and its care as something absolutely important in our lives. I’ve also loved his sense of humor and passion explaining this interesting subject.

By Arthur M

Jun 10, 2020

By far, one of the best courses I've ever taken. I had very few knowledge about International Environmental Law and Policy, as well as some terms and how a lot of the Acts, Regulations and Policies were created and how they currently are presented to us. I know there is a long way to go, but I am thrilled with the amount of new and substantial information was given. Also, I put my hand together for how all this information was clearly and didactically passed on. The professor was able to guide the course and transmit the information is such way that made me want to know more ant more. Gladly it was subject of quite few interesting discussion even here at home! Thank you!

By Alexander K

Jun 6, 2020

Professor Hornstein was a really good teacher, did a tremendous job simplifying complex court cases and legal terms used predominantly in Environmental Law to simple terms for everyone to understand even if you did not have a large background in legal studies. He did a great job of breaking down the concepts and sections making up the various US statutes we discuss and providing interesting examples from the readings to really drive home the main concepts and how the statutes work in enforcing environmental laws in legal cases. Highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in learning Environmental Law, but don't know anything about it.


Sep 8, 2016

I found the course most engaging and delivered with great enthusiasm. Professor Hornstein is a great teacher and even across the computer screen seemed eager to pass on to the student his very infectious love of the discipline . One cannot help but become equally infected. Out of that, I intend to engage myself more fruitfully in matters of the environment; the laws and policies that should govern how human being interact with the environment. I hope to further my knowledge of the subject by hopefully studying for a higher qualification. Thank you very much for the opportunity to study with Coursera. And grateful thanks to Professor Hornstein.

By Madeleine A

Apr 30, 2018

This course was very informative and digestable. As an environmental specialist focusing on wetland/stream characterization and permitting, I was seeking to strengthen my foundation in environmental law. A lot of the course applied directly to my work, and I enjoyed learning about statutes regarding other "mediums." Professor Hornstein was very enthusiastic and honestly, this course felt more personal than some of my classes as an undergrad in 400+ lecture halls. While this is not at the level of a college course, it was definitely valuable for me and very doable with my schedule/full time job.

By Tin M L

Jul 5, 2020

Online course of Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy is very fruitful and knowledge course for me. Mr. Donald Thomas Hornstein's explanation and very good which attracts the learner to complete the course. While attending the course, I noticed that how the strict the US environmental law and how details it was. In our country, Myanmar, Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure was started only in 2015. So, the course is very helpful. Thanks to coursea and our lecturer Mr. Donal Thomas who teaches to us based on his experience. Really appreciate it!

By Lellalowe

May 1, 2018

The teacher was engaging and the information was just what I need to help with the environmental justice work that I have been doing in my community. I have already used what I learned about NEPA and environmental impact statements in Week 3 to communicate some concerns I have to the Corps of Engineers. I expect that I will continue to use the information learned in this course to help with future efforts. I really appreciate the Coursera community for making this level of quality teaching available to the global community at a reasonable (or free) cost.