Section X: Reimagining and Reinventing Societies and Social Thought

Track 4: Law, Legal Theory, and Law Practice
Herman Greene, Mark Modak-Truran
& Howard J. Vogel, chairs
Mason Hall, Pomona College campus

Law, Legal Theory, and Legal Practice

The Law Track will assess and evaluate the participation of law in the ecological crisis and explore how relational philosophies and worldviews, including but not limited to Whitehead’s process-relational thought, can be useful in critiquing the current state of legal theory and practice and in offering constructive proposals for reform.


FRIDAY June 5th

  1. 2:00-3:30 pm – The Law Track: A Prologue and Overview. The Law Track of this conference offers possibilities for constructivere-thinking of the study and practice of lawTo set the stage our time together, we shall take up three activities in this opening session: (1) Offer a summary description of the “flight from normative concern and its consequences for the study and practice of law” (Howard Vogel); (2) Offer an overview of the panels organized for the Law Track: Mark Modak-Truran (panels 2 &6), Howard Vogel (panels 4 & 5) and Herman Greene (panels 3 & 7); and (3) Invite participants to introduce themselves including where they have come from, why they have come to the Law Track, and what they hope to experience in these conversations. (Facilitated by the track organizers). 


  1. 4:00-5:30 pm – Process Thought and Legal Theory This panel will explore whether insights from process philosophy require revising contemporary conceptions of the nature of law, legal systems, and legal norms, whether process thought provides new resources for understanding the moral underpinnings of law, and whether the law should be revised to take into account the normative implications of process thought.  The panelists include: (1) Mark Modak- Truran, J. Will Young Professor of Law, Mississippi College School of Law; (2) Kevin P. Lee, Associate Professor of Law, Campbell University, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law; (3) James MacLean, Associate Professor in International Criminal Law, Director, Centre for Law, Ethics and Globalisation, University of Southampton Law School. (Session organized by Mark Modak-Truran)


  1. 11:00 am–12:30 pm – The Rights of Nature. Many have advocated for the rights of nature. This proves to be a very difficult concept to put into legal practice. Every human action has costs to nature. Who “speaks” for nature”? What rights do the myriad details, species, individuals, and systems of nature have? What are the relative rights among them and between them and humans? Is “rights” a useful language for this subject? Panelists: (1) Herman Greene, President, Center for Ecozoic Societies and Principal, Greene Law, PLLC, Chapel Hill, NC; (2) Linda Sheehan, Executive Director, Earth Law Center, Freemont, CA; (3) Mary Christina Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor and Faculty Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, University of Oregon School of Law. (Session organized by Herman Greene)


  1. 2:00 pm–4:30 pm – How Protection of the Environment Requires Rethinking the Idea of Property. As the title of this panel suggests, the panel will focus on the complex character of property in legal theory and practice. The important book by Laura Underkuffler entitled The Idea of Property: Its Meaning and Power (Oxford University Press, 2003) sets the stage for thinking about how property law might be reframed in light of the looming ecological crisis and the failure of environmental law to secure a sustainable approach to working with the earth’s resources. Panelists: (1) Laura Underkuffler, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and J. DuPratt White Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School; (2) Gerald Torres, Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School. (Session organized by Howard J. Vogel)


  1. 4:00–5:30 pm – Legal Pluralism in a Globalized World: Re-imagining Dispute Systems as Relational Worldmaking Practices. Legal pluralism — the existence of multiple legal systems within one human population and/or geographic area — is a concept that emerged out of the study of post-colonial societies. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) plus increased awareness of the multiplicity of cultures in the historically colonizing societies plus global migration have made legal pluralism a reality for most societies. A process orientation combined with worldview(ing) analysis allows us to examine disputing systems as locations for making (and remaking) our shared world. Panelists: (1) Jayne Seminare Docherty, Professor and Program Director, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University; (2) Kenneth H. Fox, Professor and Director for Conflict Studies, Hamline University, Senior Fellow, Dispute Resolution Institute, Hamline University School of Law. (Session organized by Howard J. Vogel)


SUNDAY June 7th

  1. 11:00 am-12:30 pm Franklin I. Gamwell’s Process Political Theory and Constitutional Law.  This panel will focus on the implications of Franklin I. Gamwell’s work in process political theory for re-imagining constitutional law and constitutional rights.  The panelists include: (1) Franklin I. Gamwell, Shailer Mathews Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Religious Ethics, the Philosophy of Religions, and Theology, The Divinity School of the University of Chicago; (2) Kevin P. Lee, Associate Professor of Law, Campbell University, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law; (3) Howard J. Vogel, Professor Emeritus, Hamline University School of Law; (4) Mark Modak- Truran, J. Will Young Professor of Law, Mississippi College School of Law (Session organized by Mark Modak-Truran).


  1. 2:00-3:30 PM – Earth Jurisprudence. As numerous reports have made clear, the ecological crisis is planetary. This calls for a planetary response at a time when “corporations rule the world,” nation-states are ineffectual in addressing such problems, the United Nations lacks coercive power, and global treaties have not changed the path of the deterioration of planetary ecosystems. What would it mean to have a system of governance by which humanity would operate within planetary boundaries and provide sufficiency for all (the “Safe Operating Space for Humanity”?). Panelists: (1) Dan Leftwich, Principal, MindDrive Legal, Co-Founder and Director, Boulder Rights of Nature; (2) Ben Mylius, LLM Candidate in Earth Jurisprudence, Yale Law School; (3) Herman Greene, President, Center for Ecozoic Societies and Principal, Greene Law, PLLC. (Session organized by Herman Greene)


  1. 4:00-5:30 PM “Seizing an Alternative” in Legal Theory and Legal Practice: Next steps? A Closing Conversation, exploring with Law Track Attendees, where we might go from here in light of the experience we have shared during our time together at the conference. (Session organized and facilitated by Herman Greene, Mark Modak-Truran & Howard J. Vogel, Law Track Organizers.)


Docherty, Jayne Seminare
Fox, Kenneth H. 
Gamwell, Franklin I.
Greene, Herman
Lee, Kevin P.
Leftwich, Dan
MacLean, James
Modak-Truran, Mark 
Mylius, Ben
Sheehan, Linda
Siemen, Pat
Torres, Gerald
Underkuffler, Laura
Vogel, Howard J.
Wood, Mary Christina