Environmental Law Education Awards

The IUCN Academy’s Environmental Law Education Awards recognize significant and diverse contributions to education and learning on environmental law, such as by teaching specialized courses to undergraduate and graduate students, delivering clinical programs that expose students to the “real world” of environmental law practice, and supervising students in Masters and PhD programs undertaking advanced research.

Professor Robert Percival

The winner for this year’s Distinguished Education Award in the Senior Category is Professor Robert Percival of Maryland University Francis King Carey School of Law.

professor robert percival

The following excerpts are taken from the speech of Dr. Sophie Riley (University of Technology Sydney), Co-Chair of the Teaching and Capacity Building Committee, given at the Awards Ceremony:

Bob has been involved in teaching environmental law for 25 years at the University of Maryland, Carey School of Law. During that time he has created one of the best Environmental Law Programs in the United States, which has consistently ranked among the top ten programs. Bob began by creating and leading Maryland’s Environmental Law Clinic, which quickly won an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals, overturning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) exemption of hazardous smelter waste that had contaminated a rural Maryland community. The Clinic that Bob started has now trained over 200 law students, giving them the opportunity to practise law while in law school, representing clients, and addressing real-world environmental problems. Students who go through his courses are now recognized as graduating with a Concentration in Environmental Law and are some of the best environmental lawyers in the world.

In 1992, Bob, along with his co-authors, published an Environmental Law case book that has become the leading text used in Environmental Law courses in the United States: Environmental Regulation: Law, Science and Policy which is now in its 7th edition. Bob continues to develop this ground-breaking case book creating an electronic version that contains new and interactive text incorporating video and audio links. Bob makes environmental come alive. At the same time, he does not wish to profit from the sale of the text book and uses money generated from sales to run a yearly wine tasting for students to meet alumni, friends of the environmental law program, and environmental law professionals. This not only provides an opportunity for environmental law students to begin their professional network development but is also a successful yearly event that keeps many alumni returning to the law school.

Bob’s personal teaching experience is vast, encompassing numerous subject areas and courses. In addition to teaching courses such as Administrative Law and Constitutional Law, which are important backdrops to understanding US environmental law, he has taught a wide variety of specialist courses in the field of environmental law including: Toxic Torts, Risk Assessment and Regulation, Management of Global Fisheries, Transboundary Pollution & the Law, Tobacco Control and the Law, and interdisciplinary seminars on Lead Poisoning Control and Comparative Environmental Law and Politics - a truly staggering range!

In 2002, Bob began an annual tradition of allowing students the option to create short films illustrating environmental problems and solutions as one of the assignments for his class. This innovative approach has led to the creation of dozens of short films which highlight environmental problems, and in the process has unlocked the imagination and creativity of law students. Closing on a personal note, I would like to relate a short story from the 2013 Colloquium held in Waikato. Maria Marquez and I were chairing the Learning and Teaching workshops and one of our speakers had not turned up because, as we later found out, her flight had been delayed. Lucky for us, Bob was in the audience and with literally 20 seconds’ notice, he was able to give a polished presentation that was spot on with the theme of the conference. His professionalism and enthusiasm are truly outstanding and the Academy is honoured to present the senior education award to a nominee of Bob’s calibre.

Ms. Amelia Thorpe

The winner for this year’s Education Award for an emerging scholar with less than 10 years academic experience is Ms. Amelia Thorpe of the University of New South Wales in Australia.

ms amelia thorpe

Amelia is an exceptional candidate for the Junior Education Award. She has a wide-ranging academic and vocational background that spans law, as well as planning and architecture. This makes Amelia ideally placed to teach and educate from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Amelia was the Programs Director/International Director at EDO NSW (Environmental Defenders Office, New South Wales) from 2008 until 2011.The key responsibilities of her role centred on capacity-building. Amelia’s duties included: the management and oversight of the capacity building program with Pacific partners; the facilitation of volunteer placements; supervising and coordinating the work of other solicitors in the program; actively participating in organisational and strategic leadership decisions; helping to manage external relations; and, performing a range of outreach duties such as workshops and training. Amelia has also had a key mentoring role as International Director at EDO NSW.

With respect to learning and teaching, Amelia’s defining quality is her passion for environmental law. Amelia has published extensively in the field of environmental law and is also an innovative teacher. She has actively sought to champion the formative work started at UNSW (the University of New South Wales) to redesign and “green” the law curriculum - originally with feedback from three people: the Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court; a private practitioner from the leading law firm, Baker and McKenzie; and also, the executive director of the EDO NSW. In addition, Amelia has established an environmental law clinic at the Land & Environment Court in New South Wales. This is a significant achievement. It gives students an outstanding opportunity to understand the processes of the court, and the operation of environmental law in the real world. Overall, the clinic provides students with valuable experience that enhances their professional development.

Amelia has won many grants and awards including the Collections Prize, Mansfield College, University of Oxford, 2005 and the Australian Postgraduate Award, University of Sydney, 2013.”

The Academy also congratulates Professor Percival and Ms. Thorpe for their distinguished achievements.

Note of Special Thanks

The Academy would especially like to thank the Co-Chair of the Research Committee of the Academy, Professor Carmen Gonzalez and the Co-Chair of the Teaching and Capacity Building Committee of the Academy, Professor Sophie Riley, for their enormous work on these Awards.  We would also like to thank all members of the two Selection Committees, the nominators and the reviewers to review the academic work of the nominees from their very busy schedules.  These Awards would not have been made possible without the dedication and hard work of each one of them in the two competition processes.