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Alum Craig Sees Law Degree as Tool Kit for Social Change

Alum Catherine Craig works at the intersection of law and social justice, in public-interest environmental work.

Catherine Craig ’08F has begun her law career as a clerk to the legislative council in the Vermont State House, where she’ll be writing environmental laws.

Catherine Craig

After graduating from Hampshire, Craig studied for a joint law degree from Northeastern University and a master’s in environmental law and policy from Vermont Law School. She had received a scholarship, through Hampshire College, to help fund her education at Vermont Law.

A highlight of her studies, she says, was attending the United Nations 2014 Climate Conference, which was held in Peru. Craig was part of an observer delegation that tracked developments of the UN initiative called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). There, she engaged in the debate over the effect of climate-change negotiations on developing countries.

At Hampshire, Craig had taken the seminar Framing Climate Change. Divergent political framing of climate problems can improve or degrade outcomes for the public, she says. “I learned that what’s most important about environmental problems is the social-justice concern,” she said. “The reality is that climate change will most gravely impact poor, minority, and communities of color all over the world.”

Craig calls witnessing international climate negotiations as a graduate student “amazing,” and says she has no mixed feelings about delaying her income to earn two graduate degrees and work with environmental leaders from around the world.

The young lawyer hopes to steer her career toward the intersection of law and social justice, in public-interest environmental work. “Martin Luther King thought being a lawyer was an incredible tool kit for being peacefully disruptive,” she said. “I feel I have a tool kit for social change.”

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