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Dayton Docket

A Path To Sustainability

Chelcie Barnett has one of the most interesting resumes you’ll find.

She’s earned degrees in pre-veterinary science, biology, epidemiology and soon law.

But during her journey she’s discovered something that plays a role in all her studies.


“It can be implemented in all fields and all practices,” Barnett says.

Barnett is a 3L at the University of Dayton School of Law where she has taken advantage of the school’s Hanley Sustainability Collaborative. The collaborative is a partnership between the law school and the Hanley Sustainability Institute on campus that allows students to gain an understanding of the legal issues surrounding climate change and sustainability, while putting that understanding into real-life practice.

“This program is different than other programs because UD has a whole institute dedicated to sustainability,” Barnett says. “That’s allowed us to look at complex problems in unique ways.”

Barnett did a graduate fellowship through the institute where she was able to analyze data from a study on resiliency in the Dayton community and look for opportunities to implement programs to improve that resiliency.

“It’s important to realize the role of resiliency in sustainability,” Barnett says. “If after a disaster people have to worry about whether they have a home, they’re not going to be concerned with something like recycling.”

Barnett’s experience with the collaborative also includes taking classes toward finishing a newly-offered concentration in sustainability at the School of Law. She says those classes around sustainability provide a different way of looking at the law.

“These sustainability courses put into perspective how there are gaps in laws that can lead to things like contamination,” Barnett says.

From the beginning, Barnett has viewed law school as a way to take her knowledge of science and turn it into policies that can help people.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding of science, so I wanted to fill this niche that I could understand how laws are made and polices created and use that to interpret science for the betterment of society and a healthier environment.”

Barnett isn’t sure yet whether she will go the traditional attorney route after law school or do something that more incorporates her interests in science and sustainability. But either way she’s glad for the flexibility her experiences at Dayton Law have provided.

“It’s important for students who don’t see themselves as attorneys to know there are other routes they can take,” Barnett says. “I don’t think law school has to lead to just one outcome.”

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