Environmental Crime and Law

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
CRIM 3320
Environmental Crime and Law
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 4 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

This course will employ a number of methods to accomplish its objectives and will include some of the following:

  • lecture
  • seminar presentations
  • guest speakers
  • group work
  • audio visual materials
  • research projects
Course Description
This course focuses on environmental crime and law. The course deals with specific issues that pertain to the nature and responses to environmental harm. Crimes against nature include a wide variety of transgressions against humans, environments, and nonhuman animals. The course also deals with broad agendas in the sense of generating conceptual understandings of harm, victimization, law enforcement and social regulation that are relevant for a criminological approach to environmental issues. The course explores the strengths and weaknesses of federal and provincial environmental laws as they apply to water, air, land as well as biodiversity. The course concludes by discussing prescriptions for Canada’s future in terms of the environment.
Course Content

   PART I     Perspectives: Criminology and the Natural Environment

  1. Theoretical Perspectives
    • The development of environmental criminology
    • Eco-philosophy
    • Theoretical frameworks of environmental criminology
    • Tasks of environmental criminology
  2. Social constructions of environmental problems
    • Canada’s environmental record
    • Rhetorically shaping the environment
    • Media and environmental journalism
    • Risk communication and non-expert publics
    • Environmental advocacy campaigns
    • Science and symbolic legitimacy
    • Green marketing and corporate campaigns

    PART II Environmental Crime

  3. Dimensions of environmental crime and harm
    • Defining environmental harm
    • Categorizing environmental harm
    • Measuring crimes, measuring consequences
  4. Transnational environmental crime
    • The problem of waste
    • Waste as a social phenomenon
    • The problem of biodiversity
  5. Explaining environmental harm
    • Class and corporations
    • Capitalism, population and technology
    • Sustainable development and commodity production
    • Resource colonization and new market creation
    • Privatization, commodification and consumption
    • Licit and illicit markets

    PART III Environmental Law Enforecement and Prevention

  6. Prosecuting environmental crime
    • Limitations of criminal prosecutions
    • Policing and environmental law enforcement
    • Environmental crime prevention
  7. Environmental regulation
    • Systems and models of regulation
    • Political context and environmental regulation
    • Social power and environmental regulation
  8. Global environmental issues and socio-legal intervention
    • Global institutions and the neo-liberal agenda
    • Working with and against the corporations
    • Contesting the global commons

    PART IV  Canadian Environmental Law and Policy

  9. Water and Air
    • Drinking water
    • Water pollution
    • Water use and conservation
    • Ozone depletion
    • Climate change
    • Air pollution
  10. Land and Biodiversity
    • Pesticide regulation
    • Forest management
    • Environmental assessment
    • Parks and protected areas
    • Endangered species
    • Marine biodiversity
  11. Diagnosis
    • Strengths and weaknesses of Canadian Environmental law and policy
    • Reasons for environmental progress
    • Systemic weaknesses
    • Obstacles to progress
    • Root causes of environmental degradation
  12. Prescription
    • New directions for environmental law and policy
    • A new role model for Canada
    • Reducing consumption
    • Population growth and sustainable development
    • Conclusion
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss eco-philosophies and environmental theories that have been informed by criminology, and also underlie environmental legislation.
  2. Describe the ways in which environmental harms and crimes are socially constructed by media, science, marketing and regulating bodies. 
  3. Discuss and explain the dimensions of environmental harm and crime in Canada through scholarly research.
  4. Discuss and explain a number of transnational environmental harms and crimes highlighted in the criminological literature.
  5. Discuss the role that class, corporations and capitalism play in harming and protecting the environment.
  6. Describe the Canadian environmental law enforcement and prevention system.
  7. Explain significant provincial, national and international environmental agreements and regulations.
  8. Identify and discuss Canadian environmental law and policy concerning air, water, land and biodiversity.
  9. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Canadian environmental law and policy.

       10.   Identify and discuss new direction for Canadian environmental law and policy.

Means of Assessment

The evaluation will be based on the course objectives and in keeping with the Douglas College five factor policy. Students may be required to complete in class examinations, student presentations, essays, term papers, and comprehensive final examinations.

The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation requirements to the student at the beginning of the semester.


An example of one evaluation scheme:

Exam 1  20%
Exam 2  20%
Term paper  20%
Participation and attendance         10%
Final exam  30%
Total 100%



Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


White, R. (2008). Crimes Against Nature: Environmental criminology and ecological justice. Portland: Willan Publishing.

Boyd, D. R. (2003). Unnatural law: Rethinking Canadian environmental law and policy. Vancouver, British Columbia: University of British Columbia Press.