Skip to main content

Bringing Practical Knowledge to the Classroom

Classes taught by outside experts can provide important insight that compliments a student’s other coursework. That’s why EPIC hosts senior-level practitioners to visit for a quarter and co-teach a course with a member of the University of Chicago faculty. The courses are specially designed and tailored for each distinguished fellow to share their expertise and experience gained from decades on the job.

In 2016, EPIC welcomed Sue Biniaz, one of the key architects of the Paris Climate Agreement and a top U.S. State Department lawyer, as the first distinguished fellow. While at the University, Biniaz taught a seminar at the University of Chicago Law School on the negotiation of international agreements, with a focus on climate change. In her law seminar, students learned about the cross-cutting features of international environmental agreements, and, through the lens of climate change, explored the process of negotiating agreements, the development of national positions, the advocacy of positions internationally, and the many ways in which differences among negotiating countries are resolved. Biniaz also gave several public talks during her time on campus and was available to meet with students and faculty upon appointment.

“Any time you have the opportunity to learn from someone who has experience and who is as renowned as Sue, it’s really something special…I think Sue has an ability to tell different anecdotes that is really quite enjoyable. It makes the class fun to be in because you’re with someone who was actually there and there’s a real life to the way she tells those sorts of stories that makes it easier to ultimately understand the material.”

– Daniel Shmay, 3rd year law student in the class Negotiating International Agreements: The Case of Climate Change

In subsequent years, EPIC has hosted Indian Member of Parliament Kalikesh Singh Deo, as well as MIT Professor John Deutch, who served under President Bill Clinton as director of the CIA and deputy secretary of defense and under President Jimmy Carter as undersecretary of energy.

  • Sue Biniaz
    EPIC Distinguished Fellow, 2016-2017; Deputy to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry

    Sue Biniaz is a White House climate lawyer a key member of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s team. For more than 25 years, Sue Biniaz served as the lead climate lawyer for the U.S. State Department. In that capacity, she played a central role in all major international climate negotiations, including the Paris Agreement on climate change. During her tenure at the State Department, as a Deputy Legal Adviser, she also supervised the Treaty Office and issues related to the law of the sea, Somali piracy, the Western Hemisphere, human rights, law enforcement, and private international law. Prior to that, she led the State Department’s legal office for Oceans, Environment, and Science, as well as the legal office for European Affairs. She clerked for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, attended Yale College, and earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School. Since leaving the State Department, Sue has been teaching courses on international environmental law and the international climate negotiations at various law schools, including Yale, Columbia, and the University of Chicago.

    Kalikesh Deo
    EPIC Distinguished Fellow, 2018-2019; Member, India's Parliament Standing Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas

    Kalikesh Deo is a member of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas. As a champion in confronting climate change and building low-carbon development, he initiated debate on a national clean energy fund in India and introduced one of the first bills on climate change in the Indian Parliament in 2012. Before being elected, he worked in investment banking and with the energy company Enron.

    “I’m excited to be spending time at the University of Chicago and EPIC, where the mission is not just to conduct robust, data-driven research, but to ensure that research informs policy discussions around the world,” says Deo. “I have already learned so much from my time interacting with the faculty here and look forward to further sharing my experience and insight with the faculty and students.”

    John Deutch
    EPIC Distinguished Fellow, 2017-2018; Emeritus Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    John Deutch is an emeritus Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Deutch has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1970, and has served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry, Dean of Science and Provost. Mr. Deutch has published over 140 technical publications in physical chemistry, as well as numerous publications on technology, energy, international security, and public policy issues.

    John Deutch has served in significant government and academic posts throughout his career. In May 1995, he was sworn in as Director of Central Intelligence following a unanimous vote in the Senate, and served as DCI until December 1996. In this position, he was head of the Intelligence Community (all foreign intelligence agencies of the United States) and directed the Central Intelligence Agency. From March 1994 to May 1995, he served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. From March 1993 to March 1994, Dr. Deutch served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions and Technology.

    From 1977 to 1980, John Deutch served in a number of positions for the U.S. Department of Energy: as Director of Energy Research, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Technology, and Undersecretary of the Department.

    “Complex energy and climate challenges require that technologists and economists work hand-in-hand and that they be part of policy discussions,” says Deutch. “Having spent my career at MIT and in government, I’m looking forward to pairing my perspective with Michael Greenstone and others at the University of Chicago. EPIC provides a valuable platform for sharing my insights with an interdisciplinary audience of future energy leaders.”
    Get Email Updates

    UChicago Community (If applicable)…

    Interested In…