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New Law & Policy Seminar on The Rights of Nature

Posted on November 16, 2021 | Filed under General News

Enroll now in L&P’s new seminar in collaboration with ESS, The Rights of Nature. The seminar is open to all students (15 L&P points, non-credit bearing).

The Rights of Nature movement begins with a simple question: If corporations have rights, why can’t nature?
This question has sparked a global movement connecting communities and environments around the world, from Ecuador to Pennsylvania and beyond, in an effort to re-shape our legal and economic systems and save the planet’s ecosystems. This series unites legal scholarship and investigative journalism to explore recent examples of the Rights of Nature movement in practice, as communities acknowledge the right to exist for both watersheds and wildlife alike.

All seminar participants are asked to be available for a few key events during this seminar, so make sure your schedule can accommodate the following events:

Tuesday, November 30
Lunch, 12:40-1:35pm (VIRTUAL, Quigley Auditorium) — Karen Bradshaw public lecture w/ Q&A.

Thursday, December 2
Lunch, 12:40-1:35pm, with filmmaker Joshua Pribanic (location TBD)
Dinner, 6:00-7:15pm with Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman (location TBD)
Screening 7:30-9:30pm (Quigley Auditorium) — Public screening of INVISIBLE HAND followed by Q&A with directors Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman

Friday, December 3
Lunch, 12:40-1:35pm, with filmmaker Joshua Pribanic, (location TBD)

Please register for this non-credit bearing seminar BY TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23 by emailing Brian Harward <>, Jesse Swann-Quinn <> or Terry Bensel <>. You may also contact any of them for more information.

The seminar is open to all students. 15 L&P points for enrolled L&P students.

Karen Bradshaw Public Lecture Information

Humankind coexists with every other living thing. People drink the same water, breathe the same air, and share the same land as other animals. Yet, property law reflects a general assumption that only people can own land. The effects of this presumption are disastrous for wildlife and humans alike. The alarm bells ringing about biodiversity loss are growing louder, and the possibility of mass extinction is real. Anthropocentric property is a key driver of biodiversity loss, a silent killer of species worldwide. But as law and sustainability scholar Karen Bradshaw shows, if excluding animals from a legal right to own land is causing their destruction, extending the legal right to own property to wildlife may prove its salvation. Wildlife as Property Owners advocates for folding animals into our existing system of property law, giving them the opportunity to own land just as humans do—to the betterment of all.

Karen Bradshaw is radically reimagining the human relationship with nature as a writer, wildlife advocate, and academic. Bradshaw is a Professor of Law and the Mary Sigler Fellow at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. She is concurrently a Faculty Affiliate Scholar at the New York University School of Law Classical Liberal Institute and Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Bradshaw has published over twenty academic articles. She is the author of the book Wildlife as Property Owners: A New Conception of Animal Rights and contributing co-editor of Wildfire Policy: Law and Economic Perspectives. Bradshaw received the 2020 Stegner Young Scholar award, an annual award recognizing an early career environmental law scholar for their accomplishments and promise within the field. Media outlets including Forbes, NPR’s Planet Money, Fortune, Bloomberg, National Public Radio, The New York Times, and The Arizona Republic, have featured, mentioned, or drawn upon Bradshaw’s research.

Produced by Mark Ruffalo and directed by Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic, INVISIBLE HAND (2020, 85 minutes) takes you behind the curtain of the global economy where ‘Rights of Nature’ becomes “capitalism’s one true opponent.” In the fall of 2014, for the first time in United States history, an ecosystem filed to defend itself in a lawsuit claiming its ‘right to exist’ in Grant Township, Pennsylvania. For attempting such a radical act, Grant’s rural community of 700 people were sued by a corporation, then by the state government, and are now locked in a battle to defend the watershed they call home through civil disobedience. The water they drink, the Rights to Nature laws they’ve passed are all on the line in this exclusive story. In Toledo, Ohio an earth-shattering vote was passed to enact the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), granting personhood to international waters. Half a continent away in Standing Rock, North Dakota, the same industry threatening Grant Twp. is using militarized force against indigenous tribes and allies fighting to protect Mother Earth. Activists leaving Standing Rock are rejoined on the Pennsylvania and New York border where the Seneca Nation of Indians aligns with communities in the Triple Divide to stop radioactive fracking waste from entering Ohi:yo’ waters. Terry Pegula, owner of Buffalo Bills and Sabres, threatens to sue INVISIBLE HAND filmmakers and whoever continues to speak out about his oil and gas company and their efforts. The four, Grant Township, Lake Erie Bill of Rights, Defend Oh:yo’ and Standing Rock, are joined in an international fight to protect more than just water. They fight for their community, democracy, and for Nature as a living entity unto itself. In the end, “Who will speak for Nature?”

Melissa A. Troutman – Director/Editor/Producer/Writer

Melissa Troutman is a journalist, writer, editor and vocal artist. She began investigating shale gas extraction in 2010 as a newspaper reporter in her hometown of Coudersport, Pennsylvania before co-founding the investigative news nonprofit Public Herald, where she served as Executive Director from 2011-2018. Melissa’s award-winning works at Public Herald have had widespread coverage in environmental journalism, editorials and major news media, including NPR Marketplace, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Forbes. Melissa co-wrote, -directed and -edited the documentary Triple Divide (2013), which she also narrated with award-winning actor Mark Ruffalo. Troutman’s new documentary project INVISIBLE HAND premiered September 4th, 2020 and began with her first story about Rights of Nature in 2014.

Joshua B. Pribanic – Director/Editor/Producer/Writer

Joshua Boaz Pribanic (born 20 March 1982) is an American film director, editor, investigative reporter and founder of the investigative news non-profit, Public Herald. He’s best known for his award-winning documentary films on fracking, Triple Divide (c. 2013) and Triple Divide [Redacted] (c. 2017), and for his role as Editor-in-Chief and investigative journalist at Public Herald. Pribanic’s 2020 documentary INVISIBLE HAND showcases “Rights of Nature” in America and will be his third film collaboration with actor Mark Ruffalo who’s signed on as an Executive Producer, and his third documentary with co-director Melissa Troutman.