The study of environmental law and policy focuses on the rules governing acceptable human impacts on the environment, the processes for creating those rules, and the incentives those rules create. In general, we distinguish law–-rules with the coercive power of the state–-from policy, the discretionary exercise of authority. At SMEA, students all get a basis in ocean and coastal law and policy, and those with deeper interest have access to a wide range of relevant courses and experiences through SMEA, the larger College of the Environment, and the Law School. Faculty research in the area ranges from emerging rules governing the Arctic to rules determining the use of common pool resources.

Faculty active in this research area:

Please see individual faculty web pages for more about their work in this area.

Related SMEA courses:

  • SMEA 476: Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy
  • SMEA 506: Law of the Sea
  • SMEA 515: US Ocean and Coastal Law
  • SMEA 550: Marine Biodiversity: Law, Science, and Policy
  • Other relevant courses are offered through the UW School of Law and the Evans School of Public Affairs

Examples of what MMA students do in this research area:

  • learn relevant statutes and doctrine and their real world application in marine affairs
  • build skills to facilitate communication between managers, lawyers, and scientists
  • develop interdisciplinary approaches to marine and environmental management
  • learn to interpret legal materials
  • explore legal aspects of ocean and coastal policy issues

Examples of related MMA student theses:

  • Hart, Christopher. 2017. Will the Continental U.S. Lose its Tufted Puffins?.
  • Dallstream, Kiersten. 2018. Fishing for market solutions: Measuring the global performance of fishery improvement projects.
  • Komaki, Kanae. 2018. Options to Improve Transparency and Effectiveness in the Environmental Monitoring System for Polymetallic Nodules Mining in “the Area”.
  • Assink, Rachel. 2019. Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) entanglements in commercial fishing gear on the U.S. West Coast: Implications for management and stock structure under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
  • Dunagan, Cody. 2020. Intersection of Law and Environmental Public Policy.

Examples of related MMA student capstones:

  • Swanson, Ryan: Kobayashi, Mariko; Downing, John. 2019. Capstone: Weathering Future Hazards, Washington’s Coastal Resilience Project.

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