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Category Archives: Arts and Humanities

What would happen if Mother Nature could sue?

A Southern Cross University law academic will team-up with one of the world’s leading experts in environmental governance to discuss what would happen ‘If Mother Nature Could Sue’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Dr Alessandro Pelizzon, of the School of Law and Justice’s Earth Laws Network, will be joined by Cormac Cullinan, author, practising environmental solicitor and environmental governance expert from South Africa, in a session on September 30.

The pair are leaders in the field of Earth Jurisprudence or Wild Law, a new legal theory that, among other things, advocates the recognition of rights to nature. This area of law originated back in 1972, when Professor Christopher Stone advanced the idea that natural, non-human entities such as trees, rivers, lakes and animals could be granted legal standing or, in other words, rights similar to those of humans and legal constructs such as corporations.

“Professor Stone suggested that conferring rights on nature may help to protect the environment from relatively unchecked human exploitation,” Dr Pelizzon said.

“His theory was innovative in that it defined injury not merely in human terms but also in regards to nature. This new biocentric or ecocentric perspective thus challenged the anthropocentric views of traditional jurisprudence, which sees humans as the only entities worthy of legal protection.

“Stone’s biocentric perspective, instead, views humans as parts of a more complex system in need of legal protection just as strongly as its individual human elements.”

Professor Stone’s theories were further developed by ecotheologian Thomas Berry, who proposed a new framework for law termed ‘Earth Jurisprudence’. This philosophy is predicated upon the idea that since humans are part of an interrelated and interdependent community of beings and phenomena, the continuous wellbeing of each member of this community is connected to and dependent on the wellbeing of the community as a whole. In short, it proposed our legal system needs to be earth-centred rather than human-centred by recognising non-human entities as holders of intrinsic and inalienable rights.

Mr Cullinan’s book, Wild Law, has built on the theories of Berry and Stone to the extent that some communities have now granted and enacted legal rights to nature. These include Tamaqua Borough, in Pennsylvania, that granted ecosystems legal rights in 2006, enabling residents to file a lawsuit on its behalf. Ecuador followed shortly after including nature as a subject of rights in its Constitution in 2008, and in 2011 a court action in defence of the Vilcabamba River was successful against the Municipality of Loja who intended to build a road to the detriment of the river. Bolivia has also enacted similar legislation in 2010, while New Zealand has recently signed a preliminary agreement to give the Whanganui River a legal voice.

“Australia is increasingly becoming a strong advocate of the principles proposed by Earth Jurisprudence and the rights of nature discourse,” Dr Pelizzon said.

Media contact: Steve Spinks, media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794.

Research looks into Indigenous economic development

Are the current management structures and practices in Indigenous organisations, government and non-government agencies and political structures that impact upon Indigenous Australians creating enormous inefficiencies and waste of taxpayer funds while disenfranchising Aboriginal people? Trevor Maher, a Doctor of Business Administration candidate with Southern Cross University, is researching the issue and will present an outlineContinue Reading

Study explores cinema and the community

The Bowraville Theatre will provide a poignant backdrop as the Travelling Film Festival makes it to the tiny Mid North Coast hamlet this weekend (Friday November 2 to Sunday November 4). While audiences go on a cinematic journey around the world, showcasing films from Australia, Hong Kong, China, USA, Canada, Poland, Germany, UK, France, Denmark,Continue Reading

UNE to help establish education research centre in the Philippines

The University of New England has won a $6 million AusAID grant to set up a National Research Centre for Teacher Quality in the Philippines. The nationally competitive grant will fund a project in which staff members from the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR NationalContinue Reading

On the ball

Victoria University researchers are uncovering the truth behind Australia’s iconic football. Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living director Professor Hans Westerbeek – who is leading research on footballs for the AFL – said a survey of players, umpires, administrators and ball manufacturers raised interesting questions. On the critical performance aspects of the Australian footballContinue Reading

Rethinking Olympic success

Institute for Sport, Exercise & Active Living director Professor Hans Westerbeek has welcomed Swimming Australia’s announcement of an independent review for Australian swimming, following a smaller-than-expected medal tally at London’s Olympics.“Swimming Australia’s move to comprehensively review its Olympic campaign may well be prescient and leading the way for other sports to follow,” Professor Westerbeek said.Continue Reading

Boost for UNE’s Asia ConneXions program

The University of New England’s Asia ConneXions project has been awarded $558,000 by the Australian Government through the National Broadband Network – Enabled Education and Skills Services (NBN-EESS) program. The Asia ConneXions project was one of 12 projects picked for the NBN-EESS program nationwide, and the only one from UNE and Armidale. The Asia ConneXionsContinue Reading

Skeletal remains reveal modern man in Asia earlier than thought

Skeletal remains unearthed in Laos by a team of international researchers show that anatomically modern humans existed in the region at least 46,000 years ago.The findings, which provide the earliest skeletal evidence for fully modern humans in South East Asia, were published online this week in the prestigious international journal the Proceedings of the NationalContinue Reading

Stuck in the mud

It’s the United States’ longest-running war and has been called Australia’s second Vietnam. Three military experts offer their insights on the war in Afghanistan, why Australia joined in and what the future may hold for the war-torn state. By JAMES GIGGACHER. No sooner had the dust from New York’s crumbling Twin Towers settled than itContinue Reading

Measuring and Managing Methane Emissions from Livestock

Efforts to reduce livestock methane emissions in Australia received a major boost with the launch of a new research cluster led by the University of Melbourne and drawing on expertise from five other Australian universities, researchers in Canada and the CSIRO’s Sustainable Agriculture Flagship. The collaboration, called the ‘Livestock Methane Research Cluster’ aims to improveContinue Reading

Australia not an ‘anti-dobbing’ culture: first whistleblowing survey results

Assumptions that Australia is an ‘anti-dobbing’ society with a culture hostile to whistleblowing have been revealed as a myth in first results released at the Australian launch of the World Online Whistleblowing Survey. Conducted by Newspoll on 3-6 May for Griffith University and the University of Melbourne, the first stage of the survey shows overwhelmingContinue Reading

Student’s simple idea aims to relieve ‘monthly curse’ for women and girls in PNG

A simple idea, to help women and girls in Papua New Guinea manage menstruation with dignity has led to its Deakin University student developer, Jac Torres Gomez, creating a prototype, bi-lingual resource, a global campaign and being named 2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year . Ms Torres Gomez’s idea for a sanitary pad which couldContinue Reading

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