History and Mission


Photo of David Getches and Charles Wilkinson
The Center’s name honors the contributions of the two iconic figures in Colorado Law’s environmental and natural resources history, David Getches and Charles Wilkinson.

Ranked consistently among the very best in the nation, Colorado Law is known for its renowned faculty and curriculum addressing environmental, energy, and natural resources law—and has a longstanding reputation for academic excellence, experiential learning and fostering innovative problem solving.

The GWC was created in January 2013 to expand upon the over 30-year legacy of Colorado Law’s Natural Resources Law Center (NRLC). The mission of the GWC is driven by a broader agenda and aspirations for deeper influence in law, policy and practice. We regularly convene thought leaders and practitioners to address the most pressing issues of the day—including public lands, water resources, climate change, energy development, tribal resources and treaty rights, environmental justice, electricity systems, among others. The GWC has already developed a substantial body of work, including pioneering research, articles, books, conferences, workshops, and public lectures.

The GWC works closely with the members of the Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law Review and the student-led Environmental Law Society. Our students are offered five related dual degrees & certificates: JD / Master in Environmental Studies; JD / Doctorate in Environmental Studies; JD / Master of Urban and Regional Planning; Graduate Energy Certificate Program; Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program in Environment, Policy and Society.
Colorado Law and the GWC host over 25 events a year addressing environmental, natural resources, public lands, energy and climate issues—from workshops and lunchtime roundtables to multi-day conferences and contemporary lectures. Students are always encouraged to participate.

The Getches-Green Natural Resources and Environmental Law Clinic is one of the country’s first environmental law clinics, and provides free representation to environmental clients. Our strength in American Indian law dates back to the 1970s. We continue to be the leading program in the country, with five faculty members and an American Indian Law Clinic. We also run a free legal services program protecting water rights of low-income Hispanic farmers in the San Luis Valley (the Acequia Project.)

Colorado Law’s commitment to teaching and research in these areas is complemented by its physical location in the Rocky Mountain West—a region defined by its vast natural resources, public lands and parks, and many American Indian reservations. The University of Colorado (world-renowned climate research) and the broader Boulder community (clean-tech hub and the location of several national laboratories) provide substantial opportunities for multidisciplinary learning experiences.

Our longstanding commitment to an equitable and inclusive vision of legal education uniquely situates the Getches-Wilkinson Center to be a leader in recruiting and training a robust population of diverse leaders who possess the knowledge, real-world experience, and critical thinking skills necessary to address complex legal challenges and forge innovative solutions.