The Centre for Law and the Environment at UCC
The Centre for Law and the Environment at University College Cork (UCC) draws together our research, teaching and policy work relating to law and the environment. Based in the School of Law, the Centre supports and promotes a wide range of high-impact research activity in Environmental, Marine, Climate, Energy and Natural Resources Law. While the Centre is rooted firmly in the discipline of Law, it is engaged in significant interdisciplinary research collaborations and extensive outreach and advocacy activity.
Contemporary developments in the field of environmental human rights law, and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, inform the Centre’s activities. Identifying, developing and promoting innovative legal and policy responses to the climate challenge is a significant focus for the Centre.
The Centre for Law and the Environment is affiliated with UCC’s flagship, interdisciplinary Environmental Research Institute (ERI). The Centre’s researchers work closely with ERI colleagues.
The Centre assists in coordination of ongoing research collaboration between researchers in the School of Law and the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI) on the Marine Institute-funded Navigate Project on Ocean Law and Marine Governance.
The Centre is led by its two Directors, Professor Owen McIntyre and Professor Áine Ryall.
It comprises seven full and part-time academic staff, from the School of Law and beyond, whose primary research interests focus on aspects of Environmental, Marine, Climate, Energy and Natural Resources Law: Prof Owen McIntyre, Prof Áine Ryall, Prof Mark Poustie (Dean of the School of Law), Dr Bénédicte Sage-Fuller, Dr Anne Marie O’Hagan, Dr Phyllis Comerford and Dr Ruby Moynihan.
Adding significantly to the Centre’s breadth of expertise are three full-time academic staff in the School of Law who pursue research in closely related areas of Law, including Corporate Governance, the Law of Protest and Public Order, and Disaster Law: Professor Irene Lynch Fannon, Dr Fiona Donson and Dr Dug Cubie.
The Centre is home to a significant number of PhD candidates and work is underway to develop new postdoctoral research opportunities.
The Centre is supported by an Advisory Board comprised of a mix of academics and practitioners with expertise across a wide range of fields of direct relevance to the Centre’s activities. The main role of the Advisory Board, which meets on an annual basis, is to assist the Centre in developing and implementing its strategic goals. It will also facilitate the Centre to stay well informed of new developments and opportunities, both nationally and globally, in areas of research related to its activities.
Advisory Board Members as at 1 April 2023
Liam Cashman, former senior expert, DG Environment, European Commission
Mr Conor Linehan, William Fry Solicitors
Ms Gillian Lobo, ClientEarth
Prof Brian Ó Gallachóir, Associate Vice President for Sustainability and Director of Environmental Research Institute
Prof Patrick Parenteau, Vermont Law School
Prof Colin Reid, University of Dundee
Dr Tom Ryan, Director, Office of Environmental Enforcement, Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Law Clinic
An Environmental Law Clinic module is offered to students under the framework of the LL.M. (Environmental & Natural Resources Law) Programme at UCC with the objective of developing analytical, research, writing, presentational and group-working skills in relation to practically applied legal topics and problems. The module comprises a desk study to be conducted by a team of students under the guidance of an academic supervisor (LL.M. Programme Director) relating to the elaboration or practical implementation or application of rules of environmental or natural resources law, as requested by real–world clients.
By taking this module option students acquire a range of practical skills which are transferable across a range of professional roles, including:
- Interacting with real-world clients (including governmental and other national institutions, civil society and community organisations, etc.) seeking practical advice based on in-depth applied research into current legal problems and topics of enquiry
- Analysis of key material from legal instruments, case law and academic literature relevant to practical application or development of rules of environmental or natural resources law
- Drafting a coherent report to describe the background to the topic, the research methodologies employed, the conclusions of the research study, and related recommendations for action
- Developing independent research and communication skills in order to develop and evaluate legal options for addressing environmental problems
- Developing group and team-working skills
- Presenting the findings of the research project to the client and/or another specialist audience
- Critical analysis of experience from such group-based, applied research activity and integration of reflections into practice to improve professional performance
Annual Law and the Environment Conference
For the past 19 years, the School of Law, UCC, has hosted the Annual Law and the Environment Conference. A unique event in the Irish environmental calendar, the conference provides a forum for the expert presentation of legal developments and research results in the area of environmental law, regulation and policy, as well as an informal forum for the exchange of views among policy-makers and regulators, regulated operators, the environmental NGO community, and Irish (and overseas) academic researchers and professionals.
Teaching Environmental Law for Policy Innovation and Impact
The Centre for Law & the Environment is engaged in a research project on the theme Teaching Environmental Law for Policy Innovation and Impact (2020-2021).
The project aims to design, develop and test a series of new models of experiential learning in the field of environmental law and policy. The climate and biodiversity crisis confirms the importance of this project. There is a pressing need to improve students’ capacity for critical thinking in response to complex societal challenges.
The overarching aim is to transform the learning experience while, at the same time, producing specific student-generated outputs that contribute to policy development and support community engagement.
The project is led by Professor Áine Ryall Principal Investigator, Co-Director, Centre for Law & the Environment. The project team comprises: Professor Mark Poustie, Dean of Law UCC; Professor Owen McIntyre, Co-Director, Centre for Law & the Environment; and Cara O’Mahony, Research Assistant to the project.
Our research is funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the Higher Education Authority.
More info on this project is available here: Teaching Environmental Law for Policy Innovation and Impact