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A Guide for Law Students Interested in Cross-Registering for Environmental Classes Outside the Law School

The many departments at UC Berkeley outside the law school provide an amazing range of opportunities for students to explore their interests in environmental law, policy, science, and management.  Classes in three departments may be of particular interest to law students: Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM), the Energy and Resources Group (ERG), and Environmental Design. 

In order to encourage Boalt students to take advantage of these opportunities, CLEE (in cooperation with the faculty at ESPM, ERG, and Environmental Design) has compiled the following information about:

  • Courses at ESPM, ERG, and Environmental Design which are suitable for non-specialist graduate students (such as law students) and whose faculty are willing to admit law students into their class; and,
  • The logistics of how Boalt students can cross-register for classes at ESPM, ERG, and Environmental Design.


Qualifying classes and total number of credits
Boalt students may count towards their JD degree up to eight credits of work taken in classes offered by Berkeley departments outside the law school.  Those classes must be upper-division (100 series) or graduate-level (200 series) classes and must be taken for a grade.  All of the classes listed above are upper-division classes that can count towards the eight credit limit.
Students should also note that any credits for classes taken outside the law school will also be count towards the maximum number of fifteen credits that can be granted for law journal, independent research, externships and clinical work.

The Petition Process
Boalt students should pick up a petition form from the Registrar’s office and fill it out with the relevant information.  Boalt students will then need to receive approval from Dean of Students Hirshen for their petition – barring unusual circumstances, the classes listed below will generally be approved by the Dean of Students for cross-registration credit.  The student will then need to take the petition form to the instructor of the non-law school class for their approval.  Again, barring unusual circumstances (such as abnormally high enrollment from law students in a class or a determination by the professor that the law student would not benefit from the class), the classes listed below will generally be approved by the instructor for cross-registration credit.

Calendar and Scheduling Issues
There are significant differences between the law school calendar and the calendar for other departments on the Berkeley campus that Boalt students should be aware of.  First, following the standard campus calendar, ESPM, ERG, and Environmental Design classes usually start a week later than Boalt classes.  Second, also following the standard campus custom, ESPM, ERG, and Environmental Design classes generally start ten minutes after the hour and finish on the hour.  Accordingly, we do not recommend that Boalt students schedule a law school class immediately before or after an ESPM, ERG or Environmental Design class.  


The following classes at ESPM, ERG, and Environmental Design are suitable for cross-registration by law students – i.e., the classes do not require an extensive technical background or prerequisites.  The instructors of these classes have also indicated their willingness to admit law students into their classes.  Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list – other classes may be added in the future, and Boalt students are encouraged to explore other classes which appear relevant to their course of study.  More information about classes in general can be found at: (for classes in landscape architecture and environmental planning) (for classes in city and regional planning)

ERG 100/200: Energy and Society
Units: 4
Instructor: Dan Kammen
Course Description:  In this course, you will develop an understanding and a real working knowledge of our energy technologies, policies, and options. This will include analysis of the different opportunities and impacts of energy systems that exist within and between groups defined by national, regional, household, ethnic, gender distinctions. Analysis of the range of current and future energy choices will be stressed, as well as the role of energy in determining local environmental conditions, and the global climate.
Additional Information:  This class should be useful to law students interested in energy policy, including electricity deregulation and climate change.

ESPM C103 Principles of Conservation Biology
Units: 4
Instructors: Steve Beissinger and Clare Kremen
Course Description:  Three hours of lecture and one and one-half hours of discussion per week. Prerequisites - Biology 1A-1B or equivalent. A survey of the principles and practices of conservation biology. Factors that affect the creation, destruction, and distribution of biological diversity at the level of the gene, species, and ecosystem are examined. Tools and management options derived from ecology and evolutionary biology that can recover or prevent the loss of biological diversity are explored.
Additional Information:  This class would be useful for law students focusing on biodiversity law and related issues.

ESPM 160 American Environmental and Cultural History
Units:  4
Instructor:  Carolyn Merchant
Course Description:  Three hours of lecture and one and one-half hours of discussion per week. History of the American environment and the ways in which different cultural groups have perceived, used, managed, and conserved it from colonial times to the present. Cultures include American Indians and European and African Americans. Natural resources development includes gathering-hunting-fishing; farming, mining, ranching, forestry, and urbanization. Changes in attitudes and behaviors toward nature and past and present conservation and environmental movements are also examined.  Readings are from primary source documents supplemented by recent essays.
Additional Information:  This class is appropriate for law students interested in exploring in more detail the history of the environmental movement in the United States and the historical context of modern environmental statutes.

ESPM 161 Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
Units:  3
Instructor:  Carolyn Merchant
Course Description:  Two hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week. A critical analysis of human environments as physical, social-economic, and technocultural ecosystems with emphasis on the role of ideologies, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. An examination of contemporary environmental literature and the philosophies embodied therein.
Additional Information:  Law students seeking to explore in more depth the philosophical and ethical issues that underlie major debates in environmental law and policy should consider this class.

ESPM 162 Bioethics & Society
Units: 3
 Instructor:  David Winickoff
Course Description:  Developments in biotechnology and the life sciences have thrown into question existing policy approaches and instruments dealing with intellectual property, reproduction, health, informed consent and privacy. Rapid changes in science and technology appear to be reconstituting concepts of the self and its boundaries, kinship, ownership, and legal rights and obligations of people in relation to their governing institutions. Through reading primary materials and relevant secondary sources, this course seeks to identify and explore salient ethical, legal, and policy issues—and possible solutions—associated with these developments.
Additional Information:  Boalt students focusing on bioethics, regulation of new technologies, and the impact of scientific changes on policy and the law are encouraged to explore this class.

ESPM 163AC Environmental Justice: Race, Class, Equity, and the Environment

Units: 3
Instructor: Dara O'Rourke
Course Description:  Two hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week. This course engages environmental problems, community responses, and policy debates regarding “environmental justice” (EJ) issues – essentially the race, class, and equity implications of environmental problems and regulation. The course presents empirical evidence on distributions of environmental quality and health, enforcement of regulations, access to resources to respond to urban and industrial problems, and the broader political economy of decision-making around environmental and health issues. The course explores and critically analyzes philosophies, frameworks, and strategies underlying environmental justice movements and struggles of African American, Latino American, Asian American, and American Indian communities. The course is organized into five sections: (1) debating environmental justice claims; (2) methods for analyzing environmental, health, and social inequities; (3) cases of environmental injustice; (4) government policies and programs; and (5) community responses and future strategies.
Additional Information:  This class focuses on the broader philosophical and policy questions at the intersection of environmental policy, race, class, and equity.  It would be suitable for law students interested in an in-depth investigation of environmental justice issues.

ESPM 181  Wildland Fire Science
Units: 3
Instructor:  Scott Stephens
Course Description:  Two hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor. Fundamentals of wildland fire including fire behavior modeling, fire history methods, prescribed fire techniques, fire ecology, fire management, fire in the urban-wildland intermix, wildland fire, and ecosystem sustainability. Laboratories on inventory methods, fire history, modeling of fire behavior and risk, and prescribed burning.  At the end of the semester the class organizes and conducts a prescribed burn, weather permitting.
Additional Information:  This class, which provides an in-depth survey of the main issues in fire management, would be very helpful to students focusing on issues of wildfire or forest management.

ESPM 186 Management and Conservation of Rangeland Ecosystems

Units: 4
Instructor:  Lynn Huntsinger
Course Description:  Three hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week. Begins with the evolution and domestication of grazing animals, continues through ranching and rangeland stewardship practices, and explores new institutional arrangements for conservation and restoration. Woodlands, grasslands, and shrublands provide biodiversity, wildlife habitat, watershed, recreation, open space, and forage. Human practices and ecosystem dynamics meet in rangeland management. Methods for changing, predicting, or assessing the results.
Additional Information:  This class provides an overview of the ecological, economic, and political issues that arise in the management of rangelands, both public and private.  It may be useful class for students interested in range and grazing management.



If you have any questions about cross-registering for classes outside the law school, or would like to see other classes added to the list, please contact Professor Eric Biber (