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Environmental Law and Sustainability Center

The Environmental Law and Sustainability Center (ELSC) explores the ways that the law can be used to address challenges including climate change, environmental rights, public health, biodiversity, and the protection of the land, air, and water for future generations. Our location in the state capital makes it an influential place for the development and implementation of environmental laws and policies. 

Podcast: John Dernbach Interview YouTube: Environmental Law Opportunities

PROGRAMS and Student Opportunities

The Center helps students engage in environmental law while they are at Widener Law Commonwealth. The Center creates opportunities to engage our students in the practical problems faced by government and the practicing bar, including: 

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Areas of Focus

The Environmental Law and Sustainability Center takes on some of the most complex and critical issues our society faces today. The Center’s credo is “Law for Sustainability.” The Center attempts to answer the question of how law can and should be used to achieve sustainability. The urgency of the task before us requires this kind of engaged effort: providing information, tools, skills, and ideas that policy makers, practicing lawyers, law students, and future lawyers can use to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainability.

Sustainability does not have an adequate or supportive legal foundation, in spite of the many environmental and natural resources laws that exist. If we are to make significant progress toward a sustainable society, we need to develop and implement new or modified laws and legal institutions. Government, business, and nongovernmental organizations increasingly demand legal work that addresses sustainable development issues.


Assistant Professor of Law Sarah Everhart is the director of the ELSC. She is an expert in environmental law and studies the legal frameworks in which the agricultural sector operates, and how government regulation of food production impacts farm resilience, natural resources, sustainability and social welfare.

Emeritus Professor of Law John Dernbach's work on sustainable development, climate change, and environmental law is known throughout the world.

Scholar-in-residence Donald Brown has an international reputation on the application of ethical considerations to climate change law and policy. 

The Center’s work also includes teaching by other respected full-time and part-time professors. No other law school has this combination of sustainability and climate change experience. The Center is known nationally and internationally for its scholarship and advocacy on sustainable development and climate change.

Environmental Law Alumni Spotlight

We are proud of our students and alumni and their unique experiences.

 Photo of alumnus

Richard Marcil ‘21

Assistant Counsel
PA Department of Environmental Protection


 Photo of alumnus

Trisha Salvia ‘06

Pennsylvania Staff Attorney
Chesapeake Bay Foundation



Photo Credit: Migrating Snow Geese, Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, PA.
Photo by Rick Carlson. © Sand River Photography

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preLaw Magazine, 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019

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#56 in Environmental Law
U.S. News and World Report, 2022
(out of 199 ABA accredited law schools)

Related Links

Environmental Law Certificate Program

ELSC Auxiliary Website and Blog

Pennsylvania Constitution Article I, § 27 Resources

Upcoming ELSC Events


Outdoor Recreation Opportunities