SMNR: Solving Toxic Problems

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
THU 3:30 - 5:20 pm JON 6.208

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This seminar will explore the regulation of potentially dangerous levels of toxic substances in products and workplaces with an emphasis on devising and implementing creative approaches to these complex regulatory challenges within the course of the semester. Half of the seminar will be dedicated to studying administrative theory and process in general and then key aspects of the major federal programs that have led to significant gaps in regulatory oversight of the manufacture and marketing of toxins in products and workplaces. The other half of the seminar will be spent on creative problem solving through regulation, markets, media, and common law, and will rely on various readings on innovative reforms to spark ideas. Throughout the semester, seminar participants will also work on developing creative approaches to several pre-identified problems – one involving the lack of workplace standards for toxic substances (OSHA) and another involving patently insufficient regulation of toxic products (EPA and CPSC). These projects are not simulated, but will provide real-time, practical contributions to toxics regulation, either by providing needed innovative ideas for struggling agency staff or by prodding agencies or other actors through petitions or other external mechanisms. To assist in the applied aspects of study, virtual guest speakers from the agencies and public interest communities will periodically engage with students to ground their thinking. By the end of the semester, students, working individually or in groups, will be expected to have filed petitions with the agency and/or engaged in other media -- short of litigation -- that have the potential for sparking greater action and oversight on the identified toxic regulatory problems of concern. Seminar grades will be based on these two applied projects (each of which will involve a 15ish page paper) and on participation in their weekly seminar discussions, which include collaborative critiquing of peer proposals. Prerequisite: A course in environmental or administrative law, taken either prior to or simultaneous with the seminar, is required for JD students. Exceptions may be granted in special cases. This seminar will be cross-listed with other schools and departments in the University.