Environmental Justice/Civil Rights: Practicum

Limit: 4 students (preference given to 3Ls)

This Internship is intended to provide students with practical experience working with community groups and community-based organizations on environmental justice issues in the Portland metro area. The academic component to this course advances a basic understanding of the cross-disciplinary foundations of environmental justice and civil rights law and theory, relying primarily on the work of Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, with supplemental readings. The clinical component incorporates both legal and non-legal strategies and requires a diverse skill set to help community-based organizations build capacity and achieve greater environmental, racial, economic and social justice outcomes and decision-making. Students provide legal and factual analysis for community-based partners and support non-legal grassroots organizing campaigns as appropriate, using an “on tap, not on top” approach to raise awareness and build capacity for greater self-determination and meaningful participation.

The course is 4 credits, pass/fail, contemplating a 2-hour seminar each week and an average of 8-10 hours of practice-based work each week. Weekly discussions are held off-campus at OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, a community-based environmental justice nonprofit in Portland. Clinical work can occur at OPAL, in placement with host organizations, or at alternate locations as appropriate, under the direction of the supervising attorney. Student evaluation is based on an assessment of the student’s ability to assist host organizations, all work product generated during the course of the term, and participation in our weekly seminar discussions.

Candidates should have taken either the Environmental Justice Survey (Fall, 3-credit) or Seminar (Spring, 2-credit) course as a prerequisite, or have commensurate experience with environmental justice or Civil Rights laws, policies or principles. Real-world experience and non-legal experience (i.e., policy advocacy, community organizing) will be considered in lieu of course work. Basic familiarity with municipal and environmental law is a plus, and an expressed interest for environmental justice and Civil Rights is essential. To apply, please submit a one-page statement of interest explaining your interest in participating in this Internship, highlighting any relevant legal, legislative or organizing experience, to Jonathan Ostar at jon@opalpdx.org. Applicants will be considered on a first-come basis, and a follow-up informal interview may be requested. Students will be notified of their acceptance shortly after applying.

Professor consent required to use work product to meet the WIE Writing Requirement.

This seminar meets the Professional Skills requirement.  Students shall not be compensated for work performed in connection with an internship placement.

Prerequisite: Environmental Justice Survey or Environmental Justice Seminar  or professor consent