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Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture (390-0-34)


International Wildlife Law and Policy


William Charles Geoffrey Burns
1808 Chicago Avenue
Office Hours: call or email
Dr. Wil Burns is a Visiting Professor at Northwestern and Professor of Research and Founding Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Carbon Removal Law & Policy at American University in Washington, DC. He serves as the Co-Chair of the International Environmental Law Section of the American Branch of the International Law Association. Previously, he served as well as President of the Association of Environmental Studies & Sciences and was the 2019 recipient of the organization’s Lifetime Achievement War for Scholarship and Service in the field. His research agenda includes: climate geoengineering, climate loss and damage, and the effectiveness of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System. He received his Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Wales-Cardiff School of Law and is the author of more than 85 publications.

Meeting Info

Fisk Hall 114: Mon, Wed 11:00AM - 12:20PM

Overview of class

"International Wildlife Law & Policy" Many scientists and policymakers believe that we are on the cusp of the world's sixth great extinction spasm, driven almost entirely by anthropogenic factors, including habitat destruction, unsustainable trade, the introduction of invasive species, and the looming specter of climate change. This course explores the role of international law in addressing the biodiversity crisis and efforts to protect wildlife species. An ancillary objective is to provide students with a foundation in international law, including skills in analyzing treaty provisions.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 1. Identify the primary sources of international law, as outlined in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and apply these sources to analyze whether potential principles of international wildlife and biodiversity law are legally binding as sources of customary international law, treaty law or general principles of law 2. Identify the role of publicists and judicial decisions in determining principles of international wildlife and biodiversity law. 3. Identify the key threats to biodiversity and major sources of such threats; 3. Analyze the text of international wildlife and biodiversity law treaties, including identification of binding and non-binding provisions 4. Understand and engage in debate on key contemporaneous issues associated with various wildlife and biodiversity treaty regimes.

Teaching Method

Lecture, small-group treaty interpretation exercises, group presentations on special topics.

Evaluation Method

Class participation, mid-term examination, assessment of group presentations.

Class Materials (Required)

All materials for this course will be made available on Canvas - no purchase necessary.