International Wildlife Conservation Law, Policy & Ethics

WIS 6557


Course Description

Despite the global threat of diminishing natural resources to the survival of all living beings, establishing mechanisms for conservation on an international scale presents daunting challenges.  Added to the difficulties of reaching agreement on the scope of the problem and the goals of conservation amidst myriad competing interests, unified legal mechanisms to ensure successful efforts are virtually non-existent. Positive change for wildlife conservation requires that everyone, from citizens to scientists to lawmakers of all nations work together to establish sound conservation goals, practices and legally enforceable protocols. Upon successful completion of the course, students will understand the complexity of the international legal structure and be able to identify the current organizations tasked with developing and enforcing international wildlife laws. In addition, students will gain critical thinking skills necessary to identify the ethical, cultural and societal concerns complicating solutions to contemporary conservation issues. The course is split into 12 modules spanning 16 weeks. Learning objectives will be accomplished through a combination of lecture material, readings, writing assignments, exams and online active discussions. Case studies will be used to supplement the lessons.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

    1. Differentiate between ethical, cultural, societal and other contextual perspectives associated with wildlife management and conservation, incorporating their own supported ethical rationales into their discussions of potential solutions.
    2. Describe the complexity of the international wildlife legal system, and identify key international wildlife legal principles, theories and mechanisms used in the development and implementation of the laws and policies.
    3. Analyze and compare/ contrast the goals, objectives, strengths and weaknesses of global and regional legal instruments and protocols related to cetaceans, fisheries, birds and other migratory species, wetlands, biodiversity, trade in endangered species and others.
    4. Describe and critically analyze the magnitude, complexity and impact of illegal wildlife trafficking and trade on wildlife conservation and endangered species, and the barriers to implementing effective solutions.
    5. Demonstrate a substantive understanding and advanced ability to apply acquired knowledge and the ethics’ analysis framework in their assignments and in their field of study or professional/personal interests.

Course Topics

Module Topic
Module 1 Course Introduction; Overview & Fundamentals
Module 2 Our Relationship To Wild Animals: International Perspectives
Module 3 Ethical Theories & Frameworks
Module 4 The 6th Mass Extinction Concern
Module 5 International Law Overview: Key Principles; Implementation & Enforcement
Module 6 Regulating Water Commodities: Cetaceans & Fish
Module 7 Global Instruments & Scope: Migratory Species & Birds; Wetlands
Module 8 Global Instruments & Scope: World Heritage; Biodiversity
Module 9 Global Instruments & Scope: CITES
Module 10 Illegal Trade in Endangered Species: Regulations
Module 11 Regional Wildlife Agreements with a Global Scope
Module 12 Navigating the Ethical Gray to Conservation: Conservation Approaches
Module 13 Wrap-up