Events in 2022-2023

Spring 2023

April 10, 2023: "Climate Change and Human Rights in Brazil"

By Fabio Feldmann, lawyer, activist and environmental consultant, 11:00am-12:00pm, Room 5246 Law, part of the Wisconsin Initiative on Law and Climate Change (WILCC), multiple sponsors. 

See "Climage Change and Human Rights in Brazil" flyer (PDF)

April 14-15, 2023: "Climate Justice and Racial Capitalism" Workshop

Part of the Wisconsin Initiative on Law and Climate Change (WILCC).

Description: The concept of racial capitalism has been embraced by scholars and activists as a means of exploring the common roots of contemporary social and ecological crises. These include unprecedented environmental degradation, extreme economic inequality, the resurgence of authoritarian ethno-nationalism, increasingly militarized and racialized policing and border control, and the expulsion to the margins of society of growing numbers of humans, including persons who are unemployed, incarcerated, or homeless or belong to a minority group or simply poor. This workshop which is part of a larger research project seeks to flesh out the various aspects of the racial capitalism framework and apply it to the work of scholars participating in the workshop/research project. See flyer

April  18-19, 2023: Earth Day conference, 2023: Species on the Move

April 18, 2023 (in-person event): "Addressing Human Mobility in a Warming World: Challenges and Opportunities"

By Erica Bower, climate displacement researcher, Human Rights Watch Cohosted by the Laurie Carlson Progressive Ideas Forum and the Wisconsin Initiative on Law and Climate Change

Fall 2022

October 5, 2022: Law School Discusssion on incorporating climate change into the law curriculum

Part of the climate law initiative, at noon. Lunch will be served.

October 10, 2022: Virtual Roundtable on “Recent Developments in Climate Law in the US”, Inaugural event of the Wisconsin Initiative on Law and Climate Change (WILCC)

Description: In recent weeks there have been several developments in the US relating to climate change. On June 30, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in West Virginia v. EPA. On August 6, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act with significant funding to address climate change. At the global level, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 76/300 recognizing, for the first time, the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right (which surprisingly received an affirmative vote from the US) closely following the UN Human Rights Council resolution last year. This inaugural event of the Wisconsin Initiative on Law and Climate Change (WILCC), featuring legal academics and practitioners, will discuss these developments and their implications for climate law.


Moderator: Sumudu Atapattu, Director, Global Legal Studies Center, UW Law School

Sponsors: Global Legal Studies Center, Laurie Carlson Progressing Ideas Forum, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

2021-2022 Events

2019-2020 Events

About the Forum


The Forum is supported by a fund established to honor Laurie Carlson's lifelong commitment to progressive ideas, laws and policies. Formed by his family, the fund is designed to provide support to University programs that present, explore and discuss current progressive issues in law, legal institutions, public policy and social thought.  While the Forum will initiate its own speakers and programs, it also seeks to encourage and assist learning opportunities suggested by others in various formats, including guest speakers, discussion panels, seminars, workshops, and classroom activities.  One goal of the Forum is to promote an exchange of ideas that joins the University community with the local community, by, among other things, fostering a discussion of current progressive ideas and issues on campus and encouraging public participation in Forum-sponsored events.

About Laurie E. Carlson (1908-1999)

Laurie Carlson was born in Bayfield, Wisconsin.  His first political involvement occurred at age 12, when he and his father traveled Bayfield County in a horse-drawn wagon, campaigning with Robert La Follette, Sr.  This experience coupled with later meetings with Bob La Follete left an impression that would stay with Carlson for a lifetime.  In 1934, Carlson helped form the State Progressive Party, along with La Follette sons, Phil and Bob, Jr.  Carlson won election as a Progressive to the State Legislature in 1936 at age 28 and served until 1942.  After his legislative career, Carlson began a career in business, but was always very active in Wisconsin politics.  In 1969, the Dane County Democratic Party prevailed on Laurie to run for Clerk of Courts, and he served four terms before retiring from public office.  In 1986, Governor Tony Earl honored Carlson with a Proclamation declaring him a "state treasure."  Laurie died in 1999 at age 91, fighting to the end for the poor, the common people, the rights of labor, civil rights, and the protection of the environment.

Suggestions for Forum Programs

Individuals or groups interested in making suggestions for Forum programs should prepare a description of the program including a draft budget and submit at least three months before the proposed event to:

Sumudu Atapattu
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 608-890-1395 

Past speakers and programs

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