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Meet 2023‑2024 Schulich Fellow Erin Dobbelsteyn

Posted by Stephanie Hurley on January 8, 2024 in News
Erin Dobbelsteyn (Provided Photo)
Erin Dobbelsteyn (Provided Photo)

The Schulich School of Law welcomed Erin Dobbelsteyn earlier this academic year as a Schulich Fellow for 2023-2024.

Schulich Fellows contribute to teaching in the JD program, advancing their research, and participating in the intellectual life of the law school in a way that supports their development as scholars and teachers.

Get to know Erin Dobbelsteyn

As a Schulich Fellow, Erin is teaching Tort Law and Health Law and Policy: Current Issues, an upper-year seminar course linked to the Dalhousie Health Justice Institute's seminar series. She also helped develop and teach one of the new intensive courses to the 1Ls in September: the Canadian legal system module of Law in its National and International Context. 

Tell us about your academic and legal background.

I have a BSc in Neuroscience from McGill, a JD with a specialization in health law and policy from the Schulich School of Law, and an LLM in Global Sustainability and Environmental Law from the University of Ottawa. I was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2014 and practiced law for five years at a boutique health law and professional regulation firm in Toronto, where I provided legal advice and representation to health care sector clients in regulatory college proceedings, hearings before administrative tribunals, and judicial reviews. 

I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa. My doctoral research is at the intersection of public and planetary health, human rights, and environmental law. I am drawing on relational theories and ecological approaches to law to critique and reimagine the human right to a healthy environment as a tool for protecting the health of both human beings and the more-than-human world along with environmental, intergenerational, and interspecies justice. 

Since beginning my graduate studies, my academic and community activities have focused mainly on environmental law, human rights, and climate justice. I recently represented Friends of the Earth Canada as an intervener in Mathur v Ontario, the first human rights-based climate change Charter application in Canada to have a hearing on the merits. In 2022, I attended the UN Conferences of the Parties on Climate Change (COP27) and on Biodiversity (COP15) as an observer with a team of scholars from the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability. I have been involved in a number of initiatives related to children’s rights and the environment with the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment. My graduate research has led to several published articles and reports, as well as presentations and guest lectures on environmental rights and planetary health. 

What appealed to you about doing an academic teaching Fellowship at the Schulich School of Law?

I am a graduate of the Schulich School of Law (JD ’13) and was born and raised in Halifax. It feels great to be home, both at the law school and in the province, after nearly a decade away! Given the diverse and interdisciplinary nature of my professional experience, research interests, and graduate work, I was eager to contribute to Schulich Law’s Marine & Environmental Law Program and Health and Social Justice curriculum. I feel fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to learn from and to continue to develop my skills as a teacher, mentor, and legal scholar with such an accomplished, committed faculty and engaged student body. The first half of my fellowship was an immensely enriching experience, and I am looking forward to the winter term.

What will you be working on while you’re here?

In addition to advancing my PhD dissertation, I have a few publications on the go relating to ecological law, the right to a healthy environment, and environmental justice. I am representing Friends of the Earth Canada as an intervener in the Mathur v Ontario appeal, which will be heard before the Ontario Court of Appeal in early 2024. I am also actively involved with the Dalhousie Health Justice Institute and the Marine & Environmental Law Institute. Professor Sara Seck and I, along with the assistance of Pro Bono Dalhousie students, are working on a project on procedural environmental rights in Canada.