Fred P. Bosselman
Professor of Law
To Professor Fred Bosselman, the field
of environmental law is not a battleground where protectors
of the environment and advocates of development must
be locked in all-stakes campaigns. He recognizes that
the aims of the two camps do not have to be mutually
To Professor Fred Bosselman, environmental law is not a battleground
where protecting the environment and promoting development are
Bosselman, the grandson of a German forester, learned early on
to appreciate nature's beauty as well as its economic value. "My
father would take me to the Morton Arboretum Saturday mornings
many times a year. There I was taught by May Watts, a wonderful
woman who was a famous teacher of natural history," recalls
Bosselman. "That's probably what got me interested in nature,
and that in turn got me interested in environmental law."
To say Bosselman is interested in environmental law is an understatement.
For nearly 30 years, he dedicated his practice to environmental
law, land development law and environmental conservation as well
as real estate and energy law.
"I'm more interested in nature conservation and environmental
law than I am in the pollution control aspect, but of course I've
worked in that area as well," says Bosselman.
And while Bosselman has devoted his life's work to ensuring that
natural resources are protected, he maintains a balanced approach
toward land development and other environmentally sensitive issues.
"There are a lot of problems both with certain businesses
and with certain environmental issues," he says. "In
some cases I think the businesses are right, and in some cases
I think they are wrong. I don't have a polarized position on environmental
Bosselman's perspective is rather uncommon for someone immersed
in the arena of conservation and environmental protection, but
it serves as a foundation for his pragmatic view that both industry
and the environment can thrive.
"It's not a question of being pro- or anti-environment,"
he says. "There are just so many special interest groups
and they each have a particular perspective. Everyone has a valid
point in a way, but everyone can't win."
In 1991, Bosselman changed his professional environment, moving
from private practice to the world of academia when he joined
the Chicago-Kent faculty.
"I always intended to leave the practice of law before a certain
age," says Bosselman. "As a professor, you can spend
a lot more time researching and writing."
Bosselman has taken full advantage the opportunity, recently publishing
the book Managing Tourism Growth and the casebook Energy, Economics
and the Environment, which has been incorporated into the environmental
law curricula of more than 20 law schools. He is currently working
on a book addressing the influence that the science of ecology
has had on environmental law in the United States.
Bosselman's scholarship addresses how laws and community planning
can help preserve the natural environment, while at the same time
allowing for communities to thrive fiscally.
With forethought, he says, our broader environment the
natural environment as well as our cultural surroundings and our
social and economic institutions may be improved by development.
"Cities like Chicago and Milwaukee have done a great job of
this: Milwaukee with the new art museum on the lakefront,"
Bosselman says. "Many cities have realized that putting money
into museums and opera houses can be very beneficial... Chicago
probably got Boeing because we have great opera."
While Bosselman advocates for the fusion of development and conservation,
he concedes the two may not always mesh, citing the recent controversy
over drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in
"The issue here is almost more of a philosophical one,"
Bosselman explains. "Here is one of the last undeveloped
regions in the United States, with almost no human activity. And
even though almost nobody will visit it, there's a sense of knowing
that its there, untouched. That means a lot to many people. I
don't know if you can bring the two completely emotional viewpoints
on this issue together."