Stegner Center Curriculum

Stegner Center Curriculum

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law offers variety and depth in its course offerings in natural resources and environmental law. Besides a number of survey courses, the school offers several seminars on advanced environmental topics. Courses and seminars are open to both J.D. and LL.M. students. Class sizes range from approximately 30 to 45 students for regular courses and 12 students for seminars. Clinical opportunities and skill courses are also available. Most courses are available on a regular basis, though seminar topics may vary from year to year.

View the College of Law Course Schedule »

The following list shows curriculum offerings over the past few years:

Administrative Law and Regulation

Combines the study of administrative law with an introduction to the theories and problems of regulation. Covers the basic doctrines of federal administrative law and considers problems drawn from a variety of areas of government activity to examine the application of these doctrines to, and their effect on, government decision making. (3 or 4 credit hours)

Air Pollution Control

Examines the regulation and control of sources of air pollution, with particular emphasis on the federal Clean Air Act and its state analogues. The course is designed to develop skills in analyzing both case law and complex statutory and regulatory provisions.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Studies the theory and practice of ADR and covers the major forms of ADR, including mediation, binding and nonbinding arbitration, early neutral evaluation, and mini-trials. There is substantial focus on developing mediation skills through mock exercises. (2 credit hours)

Contemporary Issues in Natural Resources Law and Policy

Explores current natural resource issues from a legal and policy perspective. Potential issues to be examined include the continuing vitality of the multiple-use principle, proposed revisions to national forest planning and timber policies, the growing importance of recreation on the public lands, wilderness designation policy, and local consensus-based management processes. (2 credit hour seminar)

Ecosystems, Communities, and the Public Domain

Addresses the concept of ecosystem management on public land and examines the legal, policy, and scientific basis for ecosystem management, as well as the impact ecological management policy may have on local communities. The seminar uses a particular location such as Greater Yellowstone or the Colorado Plateau as a model. (2 credit hours)

Environmental Law

Introduces the legal and policy issues of environmental protection, including the study of federal law regulating air and water pollution, as an example of the problems of pollution control and the varieties of legal and institutional response. Federal statutes are addressed with particular attention to hazardous waste regulation and cleanup. (3 credit hours)

Environmental Practice

Covers all major elements of environmental practice, including client counseling, negotiation, litigation, and rule-making practice. Each student participates in the Environmental Clinic and is placed in an outside law office, including government, private, and public interest placements. (3 credit hours; 2 or 3 credit hours for clinical placement)

International Environmental Law

Familiarizes students with the basic issues and concepts of international environmental law, explores the underlying conflicts, and examines emerging institutional frameworks. (3 credit hours)

International Trade

Focuses on the regulatory structures that underpin the international trade regime and examines basic doctrines, ideologies, policies, and political realities that shape the world trade system. Looks in particular at U.S. trade laws, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (3 credit hours)

Issues of International Environmental Law and Trade Policy

Focuses on a variety of issues at the intersection of trade and environment. Fosters new ways of thinking about this relationship through the exploration of four substantive areas: NAFTA, the preservation of biological diversity, the international trade in hazardous substances, and international emissions trading. Readings span a number of disciplines to explore the images and concepts of interdependence, globalization, sovereignty, state equality, sustainable development, and theories of exchange. (2 credit hours)

Land Development

Examines the acquisition, finance and development of real estate. The first portion of the course covers the fundamental concepts, issues, and documents involved in real estate transfer and finance. The second portion examines public land use controls such as zoning and subdivision regulations, and private land use controls such as restrictive covenants and nuisance litigation. (3 credit hours)

Law and the American Indian

Analyzes the development of the legal and political relationship between Indian tribes and the United States as viewed through court decisions and acts of Congress. Emphasis is placed on current legal problems and issues. (3 credit hours; 2 credit hour seminar)

Law, Engineering, and the Environment

Presents an interdisciplinary course in which small groups consisting of law students and engineering students work on a project involving legal and environmental problems that working engineers would encounter (e.g., waste site investigation and design of cleanup remedy, wastewater discharge permit negotiation and treatment system design, development and implementation of technology-based air emissions standards). (3 credit hours)

Mining Law

Examines the acquisition and extraction of minerals, primarily from the public land, mining entry and location of claims, mineral leasing, rights of way, and regulation of extraction techniques. (2 or 3 credit hours)

Natural Resources

Provides the basic introduction and overview of management of public land and natural resources. Begins with the history of acquisition, disposition, and management of the public land, including allocation of authority between federal and state governments. After an introduction to the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the course examines several major resource areas including minerals, petroleum, timber and range, wildlife, water, recreation, and preservation. The economic, social, and environmental dimensions of natural resources management are emphasized throughout. (4 credit hours)

Oil and Gas Law

Examines the ownership, acquisition, and development of domestic and international petroleum resources. Policy, conservation, and environmental issues affecting development are addressed, as well as various joint development arrangements. (3 credit hours)

Protected Lands

Acquaints students in a year-long course to direct involvement with administrative proceedings or litigation involving protection of national parks, wilderness areas, or other protected lands. An intensive clinical experience in translating substantive and procedural legal requirements into practical solutions to complex problems in this public interest field is provided. (4 credit hours/semester for 2 semesters; 2 credit hour seminar)

Protection of Water Systems

Explores legal models for the regulation and protection of water resources. After reviewing basic principles of water rights and water pollution, the seminar explores approaches to integrated water resource protection, including watershed management. The seminar also evaluates methods to protect and manage specific water resources, including oceans, estuaries, wetlands, groundwater, and ephemeral streams. (2 credit hours)

Public International Law

Introduces the basic doctrines and institutions of public international law through the study of historical and contemporary issues of controversy. Covers treaties and conventions; the development of customary law; the role/identity of individuals, states, and international organizations in the international legal system; human rights; self-determination; and law of force and cooperation. Also explores how U.S. courts use and respond to international law. (3 credit hours)

Public Land Management

Expands on basic concepts and authorities governing decision-making that affect federal and state public land in an advanced course in public land management. It concentrates on key elements of public land decision-making, including substantive legal standards, federal regulation and rulemaking procedures, administrative appeals, and land plans and their implementation. (3 credit hours)

Regulated Industries

Looks at the laws and governmental agencies that regulate entry, rate-making, competition, and service of such industries as communications, public utilities, oil and gas, and land and air transportation. (3 credit hours)


Describes the takings issues arising when governmental action has affected private property in such a way or to such a degree that the governmental action should be invalidated and/or the property owner should be paid money. The varied settings of the takings problem include restrictive zoning, endangered species legislation, rate-setting in regulated industries, rent control, and many other situations in which governmental action has had an effect on property expectations. (2 credit hours)

Toxic Torts

Explores the legal, scientific, and other policy issues presented by this rapidly developing area of personal injury law, including environmental torts and product liability cases. Among the issues to be addressed are newly-developing theories of “injury,” the problems of proving causation, availability of punitive damages in mass exposure (e.g., asbestos) cases, effect of government-mandated warnings (e.g., employee right-to-know and cigarette warnings), and insurance issues related to long-term exposures and latent diseases. (2 credit hours)

Water Law

Examines the bases for federal power over water in the United States, conflicts between federal and state governments over water management, controversies between states over water resources, and the system of prior appropriation. (3 credit hours)

Wildlife Preservation

Focuses on the legal and administrative structures affecting preservation of viable populations of wildlife and species diversity. Concentrates on the Endangered Species Act and other legal and regulatory structures established to preserve species and biological diversity. Portions of the course focus on the role and authority of relevant government agencies and the modes and effectiveness of judicial review or congressional oversight of those agencies. (3 credit hours)