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Bond launches world-first climate law degree

Nick James

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at Bond University, Professor Nick James. Picture: Cavan Flynn

Bond University is launching the world’s first climate law degree for undergraduate students who want to fix the system from the inside.

The university’s Faculty of Law took its cue to develop the new Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in Climate Law from the hundreds of thousands of students who protested to demand action on climate change in 2018 and 2019.

Executive Dean of the Faculty, Professor Nick James, said COVID-19 had temporarily taken the focus off climate change but “there are still many young people out there who are passionate about doing something to help heal the planet.”

“My sense is that concern among high school students and young people hasn't gone away and that they are energised and keen to learn more about the issue and how to do something about it,” Professor James said.

“The problem at the moment isn't the lack of science. We don't need more climate scientists. We need people who understand the problem and how to work with our legal and political systems so that we can respond appropriately to climate change.

“A law degree supplemented by training in climate science and climate sociology will provide these students with the qualifications and the expertise they need to take effective action.”

Students enrolling in the LLB at Bond now have the option of completing a specialisation in climate law (four elective subjects), a major in climate law (six electives) or a double major in climate law (12 electives).

Professor James said he expected two types of students would be drawn to the new program.

“One is the person who was already thinking about studying law and is attracted to the idea of becoming a specialist in this emerging area of legal practice,” he said.

“They will go into large firms and help clients deal with climate change related legal issues.

“The other type of student who is going to be attracted to this new program is the person who has never considered studying law before. All they know is that they want to do something about climate change.

“We believe that a law degree will empower them to go out and make a difference.”

Professor James said Bond University had been developing the new program for 18 months in consultation with the legal profession and academia.

Students will be able to enrol in subjects focussing upon negotiating climate disputes, climate law and human rights, and law reform and critical consciousness.

“There is presently no other undergraduate law degree that specialises in climate law anywhere in the world.” Professor James said.

“This is going to give students committed to helping our community adapt and respond to climate change the tools they need to lead legal, social and political reform. And at the same time they will earn the qualification needed to become a lawyer.”

The first students will commence in January.

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