Research & Scholarship

The Wisconsin Approach

    Faculty Activities and Scholarship

  • Steph Tai was invited to present "Environmental Science in the Court: A Primer for Judges" at the 2017 Mid-Winter Workshop for Judges of the Ninth Circuit in January. Her presentation addressed the science relevant in environmental cases, including measurements, computational models, and uncertainties.

  • Sumudu Atapattu’s book chapter titled “Justice for Small Island Nations: Intersections of Equity, Human Rights, and Environmental Justice” was published in “Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance Challenges,” edited by Randall S. Abate and published by Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. in December.

  • In January, Steph Tai submitted an amicus brief (co-authored with Royal Gardner and Erin Okuno, Stetson University College of Law) in Murray Energy v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The brief was on behalf of a number of prominent freshwater scientists, explaining the scientific basis behind the Clean Water Rule promulgated by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers on June 29, 2015.

Wisconsin faculty members share a commitment to excellence in research, embracing a wide variety of substantive concerns and methodological approaches. The faculty has long been known for its interest in interdisciplinary work and for its commitment to a law-in-action approach to scholarship.

For Wisconsin scholars, no matter how interesting or elegant the underlying theory, Wisconsin's law-in-action approach challenges them to answer the question: "Why should this matter to people in the real world?" In contrast to legal scholars whose work is theory-based, Wisconsin scholars tend to begin with an observed, real-world problem or phenomenon and then seek to explain it and to put it into a larger theoretical context.

Much of the research undertaken at Wisconsin is devoted to explaining how law and legal institutions work and often to understanding why law and legal institutions might not be working as intended. The Wisconsin faculty contextualizes law, studying it as one of many social processes that may shape behavior. Many faculty members are active in the Law & Society Association, an international organization of scholars who study the interrelation of society and the legal process; indeed, the current Wisconsin faculty includes three LSA past presidents.

The work of the Wisconsin faculty is not geographically bounded. Though a majority study U.S. law, a growing number explore law in less familiar settings and are focusing their research on the workings of law in countries throughout the world.

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