James Gustave (Gus) Speth served on the faculty of the Vermont Law School as Professor of Law from 2010 to 2015. He now serves as a Fellow at the Tellus Institute, The Democracy Collaborative, and the Vermont Law School. He is Co-Chair of the Next System Project at The Democracy Collaborative.
In 2009 he completed his decade-long tenure as Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, Gus Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration); and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council.
Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Environmental Law Institute and the League of Conservation Voters, the Blue Planet Prize, the Thomas Berry Great Work Award of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities, and the Thomas Berry Award of the Forum on Religion and Ecology. He holds honorary degrees from Clark University, the College of the Atlantic, the Vermont Law School, Middlebury College, the University of South Carolina, Green Mountain College, the University of Massachusetts/Boston, and Unity College.
He is the author, co-author or editor of seven books including the American Crisis series published by Yale University Press: Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment (2004), The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (2008), and America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy (2012). In 2014 he published a memoir, Angels by the River (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014).
He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1964 with a BA in Political Science, and subsequently earned an MLitt in Economics from Oxford University in 1966 as a Rhodes Scholar and his JD from the Yale Law School in 1969. After law school, he served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black. Speth and his wife Cameron split their time between central Vermont and coastal South Carolina.