- Adjunct Professor
- San Francisco
Adjunct Professor Wil Burns always thought about teaching. He studied political science at Bradley University, but after he graduated he went to work for a think tank called the Greenlife Society. "One of the things that really enriches students is real-world experience that teachers can impart to students," Burns explains.
So, he spent 20 years working on wildlife protection treaties before he went back to school to get his Ph.D. in international environmental law at Cardiff Law School in Wales. "I went back to school expressly so I could teach," he says. "I felt like I had enough experience that I could provide something valuable to students."Burns has taught at Santa Clara University School of Law and was an associate professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies."Most of my work has been in the law," he says, "but I've mostly taught undergrad and graduate students. That was fulfilling, but I always thought I'd like to teach law students. I think the law can have an incredibly positive effect on the environment.""We're in California, which exerts a tremendous influence on the environment because of the sheer number of people, the amount of automobiles, the size of our economy, and the amount of interdependence we have with other countries," he explains.In addition to teaching, Burns is editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy and co-chair of the International Environmental Law Committee of the American Society of International Law. His research for these positions focuses on climate change, an issue that Burns thinks is very important."We really have to meaningfully address this issue in the next 10 to 20 years or it will be too late," he says. "The law is one of the legs of the stool that can address this issue."Burns is doing his part in tackling the issue by letting his students know that they can make a difference."I want to emphasize to my students that there is an alternative to private practice," Burns says. "I want to help them assess the full range of possibilities in the law. There are jobs in which you won't starve and can help make the world better. You might really feel like you're changing the world or trying to change the world. If I get one or two law students who take that path it will be good."