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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Marine law student pioneers dual-degree program, Sea Grant Legal Fellowship

Media Contact: Monica Allard Cox, 401-874-6937

NARRAGANSETT -- April 18, 2005 -- “It’s always one of those things we’ll get to later,” Tara Jänosh says ruefully of the typical government approach to environmental policy. “We still have water to drink. We still have beaches to go to. We still have waterfront to build on. In the grand scheme of government,” she says, “as long as resources are not depleted, ‘we’ll get to it later.’”

Jänosh thinks the time to get to it is now. Determined to motivate action on environmental policy development, she is cutting her teeth on policy issues as a student of marine and environmental law.

One of the first students matriculated in the joint degree program of Roger Williams University (RWU) Ralph R. Pappito School of Law and the University of Rhode Island (URI) Marine Affairs program, Jänosh is also one of the first Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Fellows. She further confirms her commitment to environmental activism through law as a University of Rhode Island Coastal Fellow and a Marilynne Grayboys Wool scholar. Jänosh will receive both her Juris Doctor and Master of Marine Affairs degrees in May.

“These are among a number of opportunities for those interested in ocean and coastal law and environmental issues” to tailor their legal studies to a chosen specialty and to apply their knowledge in the field, notes Kristen Fletcher. Fletcher is director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program and the Marine Affairs Institute at RWU. A lawyer herself, with a background in marine and environmental law, Fletcher says students like Jänosh can take advantage of these programs to cultivate innovation and leadership in the formulation of marine and coastal policy. She explains that applied research projects combined with interdisciplinary studies expose students to a range of marine law applications while immersing them in real-world environmental issues.

The joint degree program concentrates course work at the two universities to award Juris Doctor and Master of Marine Affairs degrees. Adding a practical dimension to course work, the Sea Grant Legal Program connects students directly with clients to provide research on marine and coastal problems. Similarly, the URI Coastal Fellowship augments students’ academic work with hands-on research or management projects under the guidance of faculty or staff mentors. Finally, the Marilynne Grayboys Wool Scholarship, awarded through the Rhode Island Foundation, encourages the scholastic advancement of female law students. Established by George Grayboys in recognition of his sister, one of the first women admitted to the Rhode Island Bar, the highly selective scholarship is awarded annually to only one recipient.

As one of three Sea Grant Legal Fellows currently studying at RWU, Jänosh applies her legal training to research, analysis, summary reports, and consultation for constituents grappling with ocean and coastal problems. “With the amount of development going on in the state, there has to be a balance between industrial, commercial, and residential development and the environment,” she says. Working primarily with state agencies and local governments, she provides legal research for officials who have to consider how projects will affect the community.

Fletcher points out that one of the joint degree program’s missions is generating innovative policies and laws to address resource issues. Jänosh, who is focusing on sources of pollution to municipal water supplies, is working with Lorraine Joubert, URI Natural Resources Science research associate, developing workshops for town officials seeking to implement water pollution control strategies.

Although preventive practices to protect water supplies claim little urgency in the absence of water shortages or pollution crises, Jänosh says that unless towns protect wellheads and ground water resources, “they won’t have drinking water.”

It’s something to get to now rather than later.

For more information contact: Tony Corey, E-mail:, (401) 874-6844