The University of Miami's School of Law unveiled its newest joint degree, a J.D./Ph.D in Environmental Science and Policy, last week.
Dale Jamieson, director of environmental studies and affiliated professor of law at New York University, delivered the inaugural lecture last Monday to an eager audience of academics, undergraduates, and law students in the law school's fourth-floor faculty room.
Jamieson explained how the unlikely compatibility of law and science can address one of society's most pressing hot-button issues: the environment.
"Law is from Mars; science is from Venus," Jamieson said. "While good science produces uncertainty, good law resolves it. There is uncertainty in the scientific figures and what they mean, but as lawyers, we know the strategic use of uncertainty can be to our advantage."
Following Stanford University and the University of Colorado, UM is the third school in the nation to offer a doctoral degree in environmental science and policy alongside the juris doctor degree.
The joint degree caters to those looking to pursue careers in environmental policy, science, law or government.
UM senior Julie Sanders, who is majoring in chemistry and marine science, attended the lecture to learn about alternative career paths in science.
"As a science double major, I've had a ton of research internships," she said. "I know I don't want to be a researcher, but want to stay within the realm. This is very promising."
The degree will be offered as an interdisciplinary program between the School of Law and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Over the course of six years, students will spend the first studying law, and the remaining five split between law and environmental courses. Students will need to complete and defend a doctoral dissertation to graduate.
The J.D./Ph.D in Environmental Science and Policy is one of nine joint degree programs offered at the law school. Of the nine programs, seven have been implemented in the last three years.
Last semester, the J.D/M.A in Presenting & Live Entertainment Management was added. Other recent joint programs include the J.D./M.D. in Medicine, in Public Administration and J.D/M.A in Communications.
Sandy Abraham, executive liaison for interdisciplinary programs at the law school, explains specialized degrees are becoming more popular than the sole J.D. program.
"As witnessed by the three-fold increase in participation, from about 30 students a year in joint degrees to over 90 now, the student interest in pursuing these opportunities is there," Abraham said.
Abraham expects several more joint degree programs to be added over the next year.
Appeared in the February 6 edition of The Miami Hurricane.