Maryland Carey Law faculty and students visited the University of Malawi Chancellor College to support the growth of Malawi’s environmental and public health law clinic. The two-week trip to Malawi in July 2017 was part of the ongoing collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the Faculty of Law at University of Malawi Chancellor College (Chanco) that began in 2010.
Virginia Rowthorn, director of the University of Maryland Center for Global Education Initiatives and then-managing director of the Law and Health Care Program at Maryland Carey Law, and Professor Robert Percival, director of the Environmental Law Program, led the effort in Malawi. They were accompanied by students Taylor Lilley (3L), Julia Kenny (2L), and environmental law LLM graduate, Atiji Pheri ’17.
The group was invited by Professor Chikosa Banda to work with Chanco’s law faculty and environmental advocates in Malawi to further develop the country’s first environmental law clinic – an initiative that began in 2014 with the help of Professor Percival. They participated in intensive workshops and seminars to share various models used by environmental law clinics, including how Maryland Carey Law conducts its clinic.
The project also included several site visits to environmental non-government organizations (NGOs) and environmental “hot spots” which threaten human and animal well-being. One of those sites was the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust. While there, the Maryland Carey Law faculty and students learned more about the trust’s work and its efforts to preserve the mountain forest and protect it from deforestation and other environmental destruction.
The trip was well-timed for the development of environmental law in Malawi, as the enactment of its National Environmental Management Act was underway. The Maryland group traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, where they met with staff from the Environmental Affairs Department to discuss challenges in implementing the new law. During the project, the UMB team also worked closely with Professor Banda, his colleagues, and students from Chancellor College on their ongoing efforts to enforce waste management laws, draft environmental laws for communities, and conduct street law clinics and outreach visits. Students from both institutions shared their experiences with environmental litigation and advocacy projects.
The focus of the trip to Malawi was not only clinical education, but the impact collaboration across borders can make on global education. “This project was one that exemplified the best in international exchanges,” observed Rowthorn. “The UMB and Chanco teams shared information and strategies as colleagues and advocates who have the same goal – using law to promote, protect, and preserve the environment for the health of all.”