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Curriculum is made up of eight mandatory courses and a month of clinical work that are designed to offer students both an international approach to the subject as well as a local approach using Bhutan as a case study.  Course descriptions are as follows:

Scholars of different disciplines have recognized happiness as the ultimate human goal. However, while happiness found its place in the constitutions of many nations, its value is contested. On the policy level, in most of the nations, economic or material well-being of individuals have taken precedence because of the ease in its measurement. As pointed out by His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the measurement of national progress on pure economic terms have led to accepting the truth of the millions affected by inequality, poverty, neglect, apathy, and despair that remain hidden and unaddressed. This in turn has led to social decadence–In His Majesty’s words, modernization and political change have nurtured the individual’s freedom, but it has also led to a less desirable and unconscious freeing of the individual from his or her obligations to society and the greater good. Further, global environmental change risking the very existence of the planet is attributed to the unchecked consumption promoted by liberal values and policies.

There are two core themes of this course: (1) examining the importance of the law in furthering the Gross National Happiness (GNH); and (2) how GNH can contribute to reimagining the understanding of the law. With regard to the first theme, we need to examine how law can effectively regulate interdependent co-existence – the law as the tool for promoting happiness of all sentient beings. Their Majesties have emphasised that to create a just and content society in harmony with nature, we must set in place the strong standards of the rule of law. With regard to the second theme, as His Majesty the Fifth King puts it, placing happiness as the policy objective helps us look at the rule of law in relation to the values of equality, equity, justice, compassion, and commitment to the welfare of citizens and future generations – and with respect for other peoples and nations and all sentient beings. Therefore, the course will examine if GNH informs different understandings of the qualities of law.

Experiential learning is a major component of the new LLM/MLS Program.  Part of the Gross National Happiness and Bhutan course will offer a month long experiential learning component that will include traveling to southern Bhutan to learn about the cooperatives in Zhemgang; traveling to Chiang Mai, Thailand to participate in an environmental clinic that focuses on resource extraction, environmental degradation and indigenous activism.  Hands on experience that solidifies classroom curriculia.

Climate change poses crucial challenges for efforts to advance the world’s Sustainable Development Goals. Impacts threaten to undermine decades of social and economic development; severely constrain efforts to protect the environment; and prevent the realisation of human rights to life, health, water and food. Most will persist for centuries even if emission levels halted immediately, and current regulatory and financial regimes continue to privilege carbon-intensive options. In the Paris Agreement, over 197 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have agreed to hold increases in global temperatures well below 2 °C, pursuing efforts toward a 1.5 °C limit; to increase adaptation to climate impacts and foster resilience; and to harness finance flows for low-emissions development. Their ‘high ambition’ framework governs cooperation on loss and damage, forests and land management, technology development and transfer, education and capacity building, with mechanisms for transparency, peer review, stock-taking and compliance support. Implementation depends on ‘bottom up’ climate action plans as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) to a global climate response. However, the Paris Agreement is only a first step. Major regulatory, institutional, economic and technological transformations, if carried out immediately, may limit dangerous climate change. Diverse measures will be necessary and require legal support. Out of 186+ countries with NDCs published online by the UNFCCC registry, 167 prioritize legal and institutional reforms. New legal and cross-disciplinary teams, with climate law knowledge and skills, are needed for an integrated approach to climate change, to ensure the Paris Agreement can achieve its ambitious goals. This course explores the Paris Agreement in its international regime, analysing the challenges and opportunities for climate law and governance reform for sustainable development at all levels, and exploring new pathways for effective climate action.

The triple planetary crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss call for transformative action by the international community and states, including developing new laws and policies, new institutions, and new models and modes of governance. The current frameworks of law, institutions and governance have proven ill-equipped to address effectively current environmental problems.

The degradation of the world’s environments continues apace, impacting on peoples’ human rights and nature itself. This causes environmental injustice. The people who have contributed the least to the environmental problems suffer the most. These people include Indigenous and local communities whose way of life and culture are integrally connected to the natural environment in which they live.

This course examines these dilemmas. The course comprehensively examines the existing frameworks of laws, institutions and governance that shape international environmental law. It explores the legal frameworks for environmental governance, the challenges in securing compliance with and enforcement of the laws, and the role of advocacy by governmental and non-governmental organisations in the reform of the frameworks. Students will gain an understanding of law of how international law does and can address environmental problems and the ways in which it can promote sustainability and justice internationally, regionally and locally.

The course will be taught through a combination of doctrinal analysis of international environmental law, examination of judicial decisions of international and national courts, solving case studies and hypothetical problems, and the Socratic method of teaching involving a dialogue between teacher and students.

The course is designed to provide students with the legal knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to navigate and influence the international environmental law landscape. The course will be of interest to students who wish to work in international and national environment and development programmes, in the areas of law, policy and governance; for non-governmental organisations in the areas of environmental law, sustainable development and human rights; and as researchers and teachers in academia or as legal practitioners, in the areas of environmental law, sustainable development and human rights.


Climate Finance and Legal Frameworks is a specialized graduate-level course designed to provide law students with an in-depth understanding of the intersection between climate change, finance, and the legal mechanisms that govern them. The course will explore the financial tools, products, and services that support climate change mitigation and adaptation, alongside the regulatory and policy frameworks that shape these financial flows. It will address the role of lawyers in structuring climate finance transactions, advising on climate risk disclosure, and ensuring compliance with climate-related regulations. The course will also examine the legal aspects of carbon markets, green bonds, and other financial instruments essential for transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Through this course, students will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complex legal landscape of climate finance and contribute effectively to the fight against climate change.

Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity’s existence. States, subnational governments, investors, central banks and international organizations, to name a few, have had to rapidly develop regulatory responses to mitigate as well as adapt to climate change. This has given rise to a Cambrian explosion of transnational institutions, standards and programmes – what Kenneth W. Abbott calls the “transnational regime complex for climate change”.

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the transnational climate change regime complex as well as examines the legal and regulatory responses of selected jurisdictions to climate change. The first seminar provides a rapid snapshot of the state of contemporary global climate change and energy politics as well as the latest climate change science. The initial part of the course will examine the transnational regulatory landscape with a focus on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and various sub-state and non-state initiatives to drive decarbonization. The second part of the course examines the laws and regulatory frameworks that have been adopted in selected jurisdictions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The third part of the course focuses on climate change litigation.

This course is avowedly inter-disciplinary, drawing on insights from economics, international relations, public policy, and the physical sciences. These perspectives are essential to understanding the law and policies governing climate change.


Course Description: This graduate-level course provides an in-depth analysis of water law and policy from a comparative perspective. It examines the legal frameworks, policies, and management strategies governing water resources across different jurisdictions, with a focus on contrasting approaches and their effectiveness in addressing water-related challenges. The course explores the intersection of law, environmental science, and human rights, highlighting the critical role of water in sustainable development, climate change adaptation, and social equity. Through a comparative lens, students will investigate how various legal systems address water scarcity, quality, allocation, and rights, considering the implications of transboundary water governance and the influence of international law.

Rationale: Water is a vital resource that sustains life, supports ecosystems, and drives economic activity. However, its management is fraught with complexities due to its transboundary nature, the diversity of stakeholders involved, and the varying legal and policy frameworks that govern it. This course is designed to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of comparative water law, fostering the ability to critically analyze and contribute to the development of effective water policies that are responsive to global challenges and local needs.

Climate change is a crisis amplifier. It amplifies patterns of risk, harm and injustice across society, from discrimination and inequality to displacement and migration to ecological degradation and extinction. Climate change leaves no areas of law untouched – not even disaster law, a field that is centred on disruption.

In this course, students will be introduced to dominant paradigms for understanding disaster (e.g. risk, hazards, vulnerability) and will analyse how climate change strengthens, challenges and/or complicates these paradigms. Students will consider perennial issues in disaster law from the perspective of climate-amplified disaster, such as: jurisdictional responsibilities and coordination, mitigation and planning, disaster relief and compensation, and liability and accountability. Students will engage with critical perspectives including Indigenous, feminist and disability perspectives on climate disaster justice and will think through how climate disaster may generate openings for transformative legal and governance change. The course will take a multi-scalar approach to analysis, exposing students to the relevant international frameworks, selected national approaches to climate disaster law and governance, and local case studies.


This course is designed for law students and legal professionals to provide a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles, data, and methodologies related to climate change, as well as the legal implications. As climate change poses significant challenges to legal systems around the world, there is a growing need for lawyers who are well-versed in the science behind the policies and regulations they work with. This course will enable participants to critically assess and apply scientific findings in legal contexts, from litigation and regulation to corporate governance and international law.

The Climate Change and Environmental Law Clinic (CC & ELC) offers students the opportunity to engage in hands-on clinical experience, focusing on legal advocacy and environmental expertise to address urgent challenges posed by climate change and environmental issues. Through client work, seminar sessions, and general rounds, students will develop essential skills in legal research, client-centered lawyering, advocacy, and project management. This course aims to prepare students to become socially responsible advocates for climate change and environmental justice.