Just Transition and Lawyering (Cahn)
T 6:40PM - 8:40PM
Communities across the country are mobilizing for just transitions in the face of a climate crisis. The U.S.-based Climate Justice Alliance describes a just transition as “a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy.”
To respond to the conditions of the moment, the shift must not simply be economic, but ecological and social. Just transitions shift the ecological base of economic activity from extractive activities that produce toxins, greenhouse gases, and indestructible waste, destroy habitat, and threaten land, air and water to regenerative activities that will preserve human and nonhuman life for the next seven generations. Just transitions also require social repair and transformation. This requires addressing the structures of global racial capitalism and white supremacy that have rendered some people expendable, while concurrently addressing the needs of all people for dignity and respect; a voice in the institutions that determine how and where they work, live, and play; and security, joy, and meaning in homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
In support of this effort, a community of lawyers in the U.S. and internationally are building the field and approach of just transition lawyering aimed at shifting power by (1) ending extraction and exploitation, (2) developing new systems, structures, and cultures, and (3) engaging in practices that are accountable to the communities most impacted.
Building on a year-long national Just Transition Lawyering Institute piloted in 2021-22, this course is intended to delve into the current state of the law and lawyering practices that make up a just transition approach and explore where the law and lawyering need to go. The course will combine discussions of substantive law with conversations about community-based movement lawyering practice, drawing from current case studies.
This course will be seminar-style and greatly reliant on class discussion and engagement. It will be a synchronous virtual course held weekly on Tuesdays from 6:40 PM to 8:40 PM. As logistics allow, we might gather in person once or twice per semester. As per seminar course requirements, all students will submit a final paper.
Perspectives on the Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.
Environmental Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of environmental law; Perform legal analysis in the context of environmental law; Communicate effectively on topics related to environmental law; Demonstrate an understanding of how environmental law affects other areas of law.
Public Interest Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of public interest law; Perform legal analysis in the context of public interest law; Communicate effectively on topics related to public interest law; Demonstrate an understanding of how public interest law is connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.
Equity and Inclusion Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Perform legal analysis in the context of topics related to equity and inclusion; Communicate effectively on the legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Demonstrate an understanding of how equity and inclusion are connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.