Robert Schaffer

Biodiversity and the Courts: Endangered Species Law in the US, Australia, and Canada

How effective are the endangered species laws in the US compared with those of other countries? Throughout the social science literature, scholars have noted that US courts have much broader powers of review over agency decisions than judges in other English-speaking nations, encouraging American interest groups to challenge agency rulings through the legal system. As such, in my project, I extend this comparative observation to pose a specific question: does the court-centric approach to policymaking in the United States provide for a more effective system of endangered species protection than alternative systems in Australia or Canada? Utilizing the conservation efforts on behalf of polar bears and green sea turtles as case studies, I hope to identify some of the advantages and the limitations of the current endangered species laws in the United States, and to identify ways in which those statutes might be improved in the future.

Message to Sponsor

To me, this award represents an incredible chance to explore my academic and research interests in an intense, focused setting. After completing my undergraduate program, I hope to go on to graduate school, and to pursue a career in academic law and political science; as a result, the SURF program has afforded me a huge opportunity to expand on my research experience, and to familiarize myself with some of the topics that I would like to study in greater detail later in my career.
  • Major: Political Science
  • Mentor: Eric Biber, Law