As Andy Duffelmeyer prepares to start his third year of law school, he’s spending his summer immersed in the realities of stormwater management, urban sprawl, energy efficiency and waste reduction. Not just hearing or reading about it, but actively pursuing change through a sustainability fellowship with the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Drake University Law School.
The fellowship is focused on identifying key sustainability issues in Central Iowa, researching relevant scholarship and best practices, drafting model ordinances that address those issues, and then pitching them to city leaders. Duffelmeyer has also been working on securing a grant to expand the scope of the fellowship in the future.
“The goal of the fellowship is to improve the economic, environmental, and social conditions in the area, and I have a vested interest in that as a lifelong Iowan who hopes to work in the state after graduation,” says Duffelmeyer.
This is the third year for the fellowship, which also aims to build on the work students do in the Sustainability and the Law class taught by Jonathan Rosenbloom, associate professor of law.
“It’s rare for a student in law school to draft real legislation,” says Rosenbloom, who oversees the fellowship. “Andy will gain valuable experience presenting to city councils and planning and zoning commissions. He knows the issues inside and out. On a broader scale, Andy gets to go out and make positive change in the community.”
The fellowship is a unique collaboration between the Greater Des Moines Partnership – an economic and community development organization serving Central Iowa – and Drake Law School. The Partnership and its Sustainability Committee work closely with Drake University students to take an active role in creating a more sustainable future for Greater Des Moines.
“We find that our communities are generally interested in issues around sustainability and community resilience, but they often don’t have the resources to allocate toward tracking down best practices, drafting changes that can be applied to existing ordinances, and analyzing the cost impact of such changes,” Fitz says. “There is a lot of talent at Drake Law. The students serving in the Fellowship position have, without exception, been diligent in their research and proficient in their presentations.”
Duffelmeyer says coursework in Property Law, State and Local Government Law, and Legislation helped prepare him for the fellowship. An internship through Drake’s Legislative Practice Center with State Senator Rob Hogg, an attorney from Cedar Rapids, also gave Duffelmeyer experience in researching and reviewing legislation.
Sen. Hogg’s leadership in the Iowa Legislature on topics like alternative energy, flood mitigation, and climate change also inspired Duffelmeyer to get more involved in the area of sustainability.
“I was drawn to the Sustainability Fellowship because I’ve always been interested in public policy, government, and law, and the position allowed me pursue those interests,” says Duffelmeyer, who reported on government and politics for the Associated Press, Columbia Journalism Review and others before attending law school. “I wanted to gain hands-on legal and legislative experience and interact with local leaders, as well as learn more about innovative ordinances relevant to sustainability.”
Duffelmeyer hopes to work in government and public policy following law school, but also has an interest in civil liberties, criminal defense, and academia. For this summer, at least, his focus is intensely devoted to sustainability in a way many law students never experience.