The School of Law and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) at the University of Miami offer an exciting and targeted offering for students who want to further their careers in marine affairs and policy. Enabling a student to earn both a Juris Doctor and Masters of Professional Science in Marine Ecosystems and Society degree (J.D./M.P.S.), the joint degree program in law and marine affairs and policy prepares students to be leaders in law and marine affairs and be better positioned to tackle the environmental issues society is facing from a policy and legal angle.
"One of the advantages of the joint degree program is that it permits students, while they are studying in each program, also to study in the other," stated Professor Bernard Oxman, a founder of the program and a globally-renowned expert on the Law of the Sea. "This makes them better students in both because they are learning more about the underlying field."
The program was initially created in order to meet students' interest in both arenas and allow them to earn the degrees in a shorter period of time. In addition to the time savings, students learn from interacting with professors and students with a wide variety of perspectives.
Raleigh Watson, 3L, came to UM specifically to pursue the joint degree program. Watson has much experience at fishing, as he was raised on the water in a coastal North Carolina town. During the two years between college and law/graduate school, Watson worked full-time on different fishing boats and at a fishing lodge.
With a passion for fisheries management and conservation, Watson was particularly intrigued by the unique opportunities offered by UM. Watson explained that "I wanted to figure out a way to further my career, but also stay involved in ocean issues."
Through courses at both schools, Watson was able to obtain the legal and policy tools necessary to succeed in his internship and his future career. He has completed a variety of research papers and presentations, and has a deeper understanding of fisheries and admiralty issues. In addition to his internship at the Billfish Foundation, Watson has worked at admiralty firms during his law school experience. After graduation, Watson hopes to work on effective policies for sustainable fisheries with the best scientific evidence available.