Foundational course introducing, engaging and critiquing Canadian environmental law.

Faculty: Peter A. Allard School of Law
Subject: Law
Year / Level: 3
Theme(s): Climate Justice and Social Science; Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation



This course covers the basic architecture of Canadian environmental law. For those interested in environmental law and who intend to pursue further topic specific courses, this course provides an essential introduction to environmental problems and the legal issues that they engage. For everyone, this course provides an excellent opportunity to develop your understanding of core doctrinal areas of law and how they are applied, stretched, challenged, torqued, rendered inadequate by pressing environmental issues.

This course covers a variety of environmental issues—e.g. pollution, climate change mitigation, endangered species protection—and many of you will find these topics inherently interesting. We can also think of these issues as a subset of societal problems that we seek to address through law. We will explore the various ways Canadian law governs our relationship with the environment and will question the adequacy of existing legal responses to environmental issues. We will practice some of the legal skills needed to be agents of legal change.

Learning objectives

By the end of this course, you should have a solid grasp of the current legal frameworks that exist in Canadian environmental law, and the environmental issues that these laws address (and fail to address). In small groups, we will work through a series of environmental law problems throughout this course. As a result of this practice, by the end of the course you should be able to:

  1. Understand how the law changes over time through common law reasoning, statutory interpretation, legislated reform, and law enforcement strategies;
  2. Understand and critique the role of law in giving effect to environmental policy and addressing environmental problems;
  3. Appreciate the social, political, economic and ecological context of Canadian environmental law and policy;
  4. Appreciate the role of Indigenous legal relationships to the environment in Canada and identify the impacts on environmental governance of encounters between Indigenous and Canadian legal orders;
  5. Interrogate how complex environmental issues challenge core legal doctrine, e.g. in constitutional, administrative and tort law;
  6. Define and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different legal tools for mediating environmental problems;
  7. Collaborate with your colleagues to produce sound and creative legal solutions to environmental problems; and
  8. Pose concise questions and articulate sound legal arguments about the relationship between law and environmental problems.


Check SSC to see if the course is currently offered and if you meet pre-requisites etc.



Read a copy of the course syllabus to see reading lists, assignments, grading, and more.



Jocelyn Stacey

“This course challenges students to think about how environmental law both perpetuates and ameliorates environmental degradation.”