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further hone in on a specialty within environmental

law. Through a dual degree program with Vermont

Law School (VLS), located in South Royalton,

Vermont, USD Law students can earn one of three

joint degrees – J.D./Master of Environmental Law

and Policy, J.D./ Master of Energy Regulation and

Law, J.D./Master of Food and Agriculture Law and

Policy--while working on the J.D. Students take one

summer of classes at VLS, pursue a summer master’s

externship, take an online class, and credits are shared

between the two degrees. In the time it normally takes

to earn the J.D. alone, students are able to earn both

that and the second degree.

“VLS is a top environmental law program, always

ranked in the Top 3 for national environmental law

programs,” Kammer stated.

It’s a partnership that Kammer hopes lawyers-

to-be take advantage of. Moreover, USD Law is

working to add a M.A. in Biology to its dual

degree program.

“This area is growing in terms of demand,” he

said. “This type of law is a great way to teach certain

skills, especially in navigating the complex web of

laws and doctrines. In these classes, students also cope

with important concepts beyond the environmental,

including issues of federal versus state authority as well

as the powers of governmental regulation versus the

rights of private property.”

Environmental law can also fill an important need

– the legal profession’s duty to serve.

“There’s a responsibility to represent people who

may not have a voice,” Kammer explained. “An aspect

of the legal profession’s duty can be served by teaching,

learning and practicing environmental law. Poor

communities can be most affected by environmental

issues, but not have a voice. This area of law is one way

to fulfill our responsibility to represent these people.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I feel

potential lawyers should have an understanding

of human actions on the environment,” Kammer

continued. “As an institution of legal education, we try

to emphasize that public responsibility.”

Sean Kammer,

Associate Professor


Ph.D., American History,

University of Nebraska,


J.D., Duke University

School of Law, 2004

B.A., History, University

of Wyoming, 2000

Teaching Interests:

Natural Resources Law

Environmental Law

Minerals and Energy

Legal History

WINTER 2015/16 |


Environmental Law Courses Make Resurgence,

Offer Unique Learning Opportunities

In congruence with most parts of the country,

the impetus to address the effects of human activity

on the natural environment has permeated USD,

and one law professor has made a transformative

impact in the area of environmental law at the

School of Law.

Law Professor Sean Kammer’s background in

teaching environmental law topics has renewed USD

Law’s environmental law course offerings. USD Law

faculty member since 2012, Kammer previously

taught Mining Law and Public Lands Law at Lewis &

Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

After Professor John Davidson’s retirement,

environmental law courses were not offered on a

regular recurring basis. Currently, however, these

vital courses are offered on a regular schedule again,

augmenting a curriculum built by Professor Emeritus

John Davidson, who taught at USD Law 1972-2006,

during his tenure.

Now offered is an impressive array that incudes

Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Water

Law, Energy Law and Advanced Legal Writing in

Natural Resources Law. Kammer can be credited with

teaching all those courses, as well as with starting the

Foundations of Law course for first-year students.

Interest is high in environmental law courses, and

it’s grown each year, according to Kammer.

“We have a solid foundation of 15-20 students that

take several of our environmental classes,” he stated.

The last few years have also seen resurgence in the

Environmental Law Society, the law school’s student

extracurricular group comprised of students with an

interest in environmental law. Initially started under

Davidson, the group had lapsed. Its resurrection

in 2014 brought more environmental activities to

the law school, such as educational opportunities,

career services events and greater involvement in the

Vermillion and legal communities. “Most students

who are involved in that group foresee environmental

law as a potential career,” Kammer said.

USD Law students are also afforded the

opportunity to enroll in an exchange program to