News Release

Researchers propose compulsory climate change teaching in core law curriculum

For immediate release: Tuesday 24 January 2023

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Durham University

-With pictures-

Academics from Durham University are urging that climate change education should be made compulsory across the core law curriculum in Higher Education.

The researchers evaluated students’ engagement and their broader views concerning climate change education by integrating climate change and environmental law into the core curriculum at the University of Exeter, a Russell Group University.

The results showed that law students want to study climate law and the climate context of law as part of their core curriculum.

Students also said that climate change education should be compulsory and taught across the programme.

In the study, the researchers argue that climate change is still perceived as a niche topic and that students are leaving Law School without a proper understanding of the legal framework or social context within which they will practice. 

They emphasise the importance of understanding climate constitutional legislation and net zero, climate risk and interpretation of legal rules in the context of climate change.

Their findings are published in the leading generalist law journal, Legal Studies.  

Students graduating from law school will spend their working lives needing to understand and apply legal norms in the context of a society dealing with the impacts of climate change, while transitioning to ‘net zero’ carbon economies.  

Legal educators now face the responsibility of ensuring that law graduates are equipped with adequate knowledge of climate law and social context in which they will operate.

Lead researcher Dr Kim Bouwer, of Durham Law School, Durham University, said: “We have been working on a cross-curriculum approach to climate education at Durham Law School for this academic year, and have found that integrating materials relating to climate change in various modules not only has been very natural, but also supports students' study of law. 

“We are considering how to approach this long term as part of a broader curriculum review.”

The approach has been developed based upon previous research by Dr Kim Bouwer conducted at the University of Exeter.

As a part of the experiment, Dr Bouwer designed and delivered climate change education in Land Law and conducted the study to evaluate students’ engagement and their broader views concerning climate change education. 

The work was carried out by three Exeter graduates, who were law students at the time of the research, who surveyed, and held focus groups with, other students. 


Media Information

Dr Kim Bouwer is available for interview and can be contacted on  

Alternatively, please contact Durham University Communications Office for interview requests on


“Climate Change isn’t Optional: Climate Change in the Core Law Curriculum”, (2022), K. Bouwer, E. John, O. Luke, and A. Rozhan, Legal Studies - Cambridge University Press.

Full paper can be viewed online:


Associated image is available via the following link:

About Durham University

Durham University is a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research based in historic Durham City in the UK.

We are a collegiate university committed to inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham and in the world.

We conduct boundary-breaking research that improves lives globally and we are ranked as a world top 100 university with an international reputation in research and education (QS World University Rankings 2023).

We are a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive UK universities and we are consistently ranked as a top 10 university in national league tables (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, Guardian University Guide and The Complete University Guide).

For more information about Durham University visit:

END OF MEDIA RELEASE – issued by Durham University Communications Office.

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