James Gustave Speth: Lawyer
James Gustave Speth: Professor of Law
James Gustave “Gus” Speth joined the faculty at Vermont Law School in 2010. A Distinguished Senior Fellow with Demos, he completed his decade-long tenure in 2009 as dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, he was administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the U.N. Development Group. Prior to his service at the U.N., he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality in the Carter administration; and senior attorney and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Throughout his career, Professor Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment. Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Environmental Law Institute and the League of Conservation Voters, and the Blue Planet Prize. He holds honorary degrees from Clark University, College of the Atlantic, Vermont Law School, Middlebury College, and the University of South Carolina. He is the author, co-author or editor of six books, including the award-winning “The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability” and “Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment.”
Professor Speth serves on the boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council, World Resources Institute, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, New Economics Institute, New Economy Network, 1Sky, and the Institute for Sustainable Communities. He graduated from Yale University in 1964 with a BA degree in political science, and earned an LLM degree in economics from Oxford University in 1966 and his JD degree from the Yale Law School in 1969.