In Vietnam and China Students Gain Perspective on Water Issues, Environmental Law & Governance


“Absolutely loving the trip so far!” writes rising 3L Nicholas Andonie.

Andonie is writing from Hanoi, Vietnam, where he is on a month-long program that commingles science and law: Water Resources Policy: China and Vietnam.

University of Miami students participating in the Water Resources Policy Program

The course, a joint offering between Miami Law and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, covers a broad spectrum of water issues facing the two countries and the United States, including access to drinking water, wetlands preservation, and wastewater management.

The students are joined during classes, seminars, and field trips, by students from the Vietnamese and Chinese universities. In addition to field trips, in Vietnam they collaborate with the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology and the Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment. In China, they work with the Asian International Rivers Center of Yunnan University in Kunming.  

“It has been fascinating to see how organizations in Vietnam operate within a political framework that is at once both similar to and substantially different from our own,” Andonie writes.

“Director Dang Dinh Bach [Law and Policy of Sustainable Development Research Center, Vietnam´s first public interest environmental law organization] was very open to answering questions on sensitive topics, and shared with us how he manages corporate and governmental interests with environmental and human rights concerns.

“All of the faculty members from the universities and institutes we have visited have been extremely knowledgeable within their fields, and it has been very refreshing to see how the country as a whole is rallying behind them to protect their natural resources and urban areas from the effects of climate change,” he writes.

The collaborative summer course is in its 10th year, with close to 100 UM students having participated.

“During the course, Miami Law students obtain a great overview of governance and environmental and water laws in Vietnam and China,” said Suman. “They also gained insight through lectures, conversations, and observations that implementation of legislation faces major challenges in both countries.”

Andonie counts the experience as one of his personal best. “I would love for the University of Miami to assist Professor Suman in expanding this program well beyond its current scope for future students. I strongly believe many people would benefit from taking this course even if, as in my case, they do not have an interest in environmental issues as a career path."

Director Bach agrees, "This is perhaps the most valuable aspect of cultural exchange: we are learning not only about local customs and traditions, but also observing people with different value systems respond to a crisis that transcends national borders and generations alike."

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