An interview with Richard SchneiderApril 7, 2014
Richard Schneider, Associate Dean for International Affairs and Professor of Law will be leading the Environmental Law and Policy class in the new Masters in Sustainability this fall. Schneider serves as the Legal Chair for the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club and on the Board of Directors for the Yadkin Riverkeeper.
1) How did you become interested in issues related to sustainability?
I grew up in Colorado with nearby access to nature and wilderness, and developed a deep appreciation for our natural world. I left Colorado for school and to travel in Europe and then came to Wake in 1992. At that time, there was no full-time Environmental Law course, so I combined my love of wilderness and the law into the course here. I find it thrilling to teach students and see them advance in environmental careers.
2) What are the most pressing sustainability issues that we face?
First, energy use. To the extent that we remain dependent on hydrocarbons, we are either harming ourselves or the planet through pollution. Secondly, wealth inequalities. There are rich countries that are overwhelmingly consumptive, and poorer countries that are less so. The wealthier countries need to consume less, and the poorer countries need more access to wealth and equity.
3) What role does the Law School play in training students in sustainability issues?
We offer a range of environmental courses including Environmental Law, International Environmental Law, Land Use, and we’ll hopefully have a Natural Resource Law course again soon. We train lawyers with an environmental awareness so that wherever they go – the business world, state or local governments, or NGO’s – they will take that awareness with them and look for sustainable solutions. We give them access to environmental project work while they’re here, through our pro-bono and business clinics. We’re also hoping to start a sustainability clinic in the future.
4) What excites you about the upcoming Masters in Sustainability program?
It’s great that the program has such an interdisciplinary focus. This program will also give students the opportunity to use this as a terminal degree, or to launch them into additional degrees, like a JD. The exposure to so many disciplines will make for well-rounded students who can approach issues with a broad understanding of the many aspects of sustainability.