James Gustave Speth

James Gustave Speth

Director Emeritus - Center for Humans and Nature | Professor of Law - Vermont Law School

James Gustave Speth (Director Emeritus, Center for Humans and Nature) is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School. In 2009, he completed his decade-long tenure as Dean at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, Professor Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group.

Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration); and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council. Throughout his career, Professor Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment.

Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Environmental Law Institute and the League of Conservation Voters, and the Blue Planet Prize. He holds honorary degrees from Clark University, the College of the Atlantic, the Vermont Law School, Middlebury College, and the University of South Carolina. He is the author, co-author or editor of six books including the award-winning The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability and Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment. Professor Speth also serves on the boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council, World Resources Institute, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Population Action International, 1Sky, and the Center for Sustainable Communities.

Professor Speth currently serves on the boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council, New Economics Institute, New Economy Network, Center for a New American Dream, Climate Reality Project, and the Institute for Sustainable Communities.

Contributions to Humans & Nature:
  • America Beyond Growth
    A response to “How can we create a successful economy without continuous economic growth?” 

Noteworthy Links:
  • Professor Speth’s faculty page
    Explore Gus Speth’s publications, research, and teaching at Vermont Law School.
  • Economics for the Anthropocene
    E4A is a partnership between McGill University, University of Vermont, and York University in Toronto that aims to educate graduate students in the foundations of ecological economics.
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