Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic Receives McKnight Foundation Grant

The law school’s Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic (IEC) has received a two-year, $278,000 grant from the Minneapolis–based McKnight Foundation to support the clinic's work on a variety of water-quality projects affecting the Mississippi River and water in Missouri and Illinois. The latest grant brings the total amount of McKnight Foundation support for the clinic to almost $1.3 million.

Established in 2000, the IEC has a dual emphasis on experiential learning and community service. It represents nonprofit groups, communities, and individuals who are pursuing legal action to protect the environment and community health, but who cannot afford the legal representation and scientific expertise this requires. One of seven client-based law clinics, the IEC gives Washington University law students the opportunity to serve, with law school faculty, as members of interdisciplinary professional teams representing clients in real cases. The clinic is part of the law school's award-winning Clinical Education Program, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s premier programs, offering 16 distinct law clinics and externships. 

“We have been very active in pursuing wetlands and floodplains protection and in trying to get Missouri to bring its water-quality standards into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act,” says Liz Hubertz, lecturer in law and IEC clinic attorney. “Our students have front-line responsibility for the work—appearing in court and administrative proceedings, conducting research, and commenting on regulations.”  

The IEC has received grants from the McKnight Foundation since the early 2000s. The Foundation supports the IEC’s participation in the Mississippi River Collaborative of a dozen grantees working on common water quality issues along the length of the Mississippi River, as well as additional water quality work in the region. 

A family-based organization, the McKnight Foundation has granted more than $1.9 billion over the past 60 years to build and maintain vibrant communities, enrich people’s lives through the arts, encourage protection of the natural environment, and promote research in selected fields.

By Timothy J. Fox