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Symposium on National Security and Climate Change

August 4, 2013


Peter Glenshaw, Director of Communications, Vermont Law School
Office: 802-831-1318, cell: 603-738-8487, home: 603-795-4764,
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SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt.—Nearly one month after President Obama’s landmark climate change speech, the nation’s top-ranked environmental law school, Vermont Law School, announced today a major symposium addressing the issue of national security and climate change.

“Since 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense has consistently identified climate change as one of the top threats to U.S. national security,” said Molly Gray ’14, who is chairing the symposium on behalf of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) at VLS. “In addition to the challenges associated with being the largest single consumer of petroleum in the world, the Pentagon understands that its ability to respond to military and humanitarian needs has been impacted by warming temperatures, adverse weather conditions, and rising sea levels. This 2013 VJEL Symposium will draw in experts from across the nation to discuss the growing impact of climate change on national security, and the way forward."

Confirmed speakers include D. James Baker, former Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Mr. Baker currently directs the Global Carbon Measurement Program for the William J. Clinton Foundation and recently co-authored the ground breaking report, “Climate Extremes: Recent Trends and Implications for National Security.”

Joining Baker will be John Steinbruner, Director of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland. Steinbruner recently chaired the 14-member panel of experts who conducted a study for the National Research Council on "Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis.”

The Symposium, entitled "Rising Temps and Emerging Threats: The Intersection of Climate Change and National Security in the 21st Century," will be held Friday, October 25, 2013, from 8:45am - 6:00pm, in the Jonathan B. Chase Community Center, at Vermont Law School.

The symposium will bring together a variety of experts to address a number of pressing security issues currently facing the U.S. and international community. Speakers will discuss the real and immediate threat of climate change to national security, including the military’s adaptation and response; the growing threat of climate-based forced migration; and food security as national security.

The symposium schedule and registration information can be found here. The symposium is free to Vermont Law School students, faculty and staff and is open to the public for a modest registration fee. CLE credit is available.

Other confirmed speakers include the following experts:

  • Geoff Dabelko, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. Dabelko is also the Senior Advisor for the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
  • Stephen Dycus, Professor of Law at Vermont Law School. An internationally recognized authority on national security and environmental law, Professor Dycus was the founding co-editor in chief of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.
  • William Hohenstein, Director of the Climate Change Program Office at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Hohenstein is the former Division Director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Economics.
  • Kate Jastram, Director of Research and Programs at the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Jastram was a legal advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from 1991 – 2001.
  • Sarah Light, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Light is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she also served as Chief of the Environmental Protection Unit.
  • Jody Prescott, COL (Ret.), retired U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps Officer. Prescott currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the West Point Center for the Rule of Law and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont. Prescott was the Chief Legal Advisor to the Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan from 2008 – 2009.
  • Madeline Stano, Luke Cole Memorial Fellow and Staff Attorney at the Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment (CRPE) in San Francisco, California. Stano currently supports the citizens of Kivalina, Alaska in a climate justice case against ExxonMobil.
  • Alice Thomas, Program Manager of the Bacon Center for Climate Displacement at Refugees International. Thomas is a former staff attorney in the international program of Earthjustice.
  • Thomas Vogelmann, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont.

"As the top-ranked environmental law school in the nation, I am pleased that Vermont Law School will be addressing an issue as relevant and timely—on both a national and international stage—as climate change and national security,” said Marc Mihaly, President and Dean of Vermont Law School. “We look forward to welcoming such a distinguished group of experts to address these pressing issues.”

VJEL is a student-run organization founded in 1996 with the support of the Environmental Law Center at VLS. Now in its seventeenth year, VJEL continues to publish environmental scholarship quarterly and recently launched a new website, which will allow VJEL to publish exclusively online. The Environmental Law Center and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems are proud co-sponsors of this year’s VJEL Symposium.


Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, has the top-ranked environmental law program and one of the top-ranked clinical training programs in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; two Master’s Degrees (Master of Environmental Law and Policy, and Master of Energy Regulation and Law), and three post-JD degrees—LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, and LLM in Environmental Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, the South Royalton Legal Clinic, and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. For more information, visit

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