Peter Mushkat, instructor

A day in the life

Peter Mushkat, instructor

Peter Mushkat_Environmental Science_36017 (214x214)

The Environmental Science program gives students the opportunity and ability to relate a particular subject to the whole scheme of things.

Making a link between law and the environment

“My idea is to encourage students to recognize that law is not just academic, but that it’s going on around them all the time,” says Peter Mushkat, who teaches in two of Dal’s programs: Environmental Science and Environment, Sustainability, and Society (ESS).

Mr. Mushkat has taught the third-year Introduction to Environmental Law class for as long as he’s been at Dal. “It’s always been cornerstone of my teaching, but it’s evolved as the laws themselves change,” he explains.

When Mr. Mushkat began law school at Dal, “focusing on environmental law was not at the top of my list,” he says. “But in first year, I became very interested in marine and ocean law—which is natural, given our location. But our law school also has very active faculty in that area,” he says. “When I graduated, I was offered a position with the Marine and Environmental Law Institute, and it just carried on from there.”

Mr. Mushkat also teaches upper-level classes in administrative law and international law and the environment. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge and creating interest for students in these areas, whichever class I’m teaching,” he says. “Elective seminars have more opportunities for students to teach themselves. The best way to learn something is to actually do it.”

On top of his teaching duties, Mr. Mushkat coordinates an internship class. “An individual at the organization mentors the student,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity for students to get their feet wet and find out how the real world works.”

“The organizations have come back to say, ‘Can we get another intern?’ So that’s always encouraging,” Mr. Mushkat smiles. “It’s fascinating—there’s always a great deal of breadth in what students are doing and who they’re working with.”

His cross appointment with the Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS) program offers him the chance to team-teach. “It’s great,” he reports. “Every week, I’m part of a class of common interest. And I work with community partners—it provides excellent community outreach opportunities.”

The cross-disciplinary appointment and the team teaching tie in with Mr. Mushkat’s personal outlook. “I believe in the interconnectedness of process, thoughts, and ideas,” he says. “Developing a sense of the larger picture is extremely important. After that, you might explore another area—whether science or another field—to which you feel particularly connected.”