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Green Legal Theory

With the assistance of several POLIS researchers, POLIS principal Michael M’Gonigle, Eco-Research Chair in UVic’s Faculty of Law and School of Environmental Studies, has been undertaking an innovative SSHRC- funded initiative to launch a new field in legal thought and practice: Green Legal Theory (GLT).
GLT recognizes the limits of relying on state-centred, socially constraining regulations to protect the environment. In contrast to an environmental law approach, GLT seeks to understand how to create self-sustaining social, economic and political institutions that are ecologically based and that transform society fundamentally. Legal and political institutions must offer much more than a discrete body of jurisprudence aimed at the protection or management of nature. Instead, what is needed is legal analysis that recognizes how the modern liberal state and society – including its environmental laws – are embedded in a governance framework of unsustainable legal and political-economic doctrines and practices. The next step is to explore how such doctrines and practices might be changed to develop sustainability.
Dr M’Gonigle and his team are working on a major monograph that delineates the field of Green Legal Theory. The article sets forth how GLT promises to aid in the construction of more reflective, socio-culturally defined patterns of production and consumption, and, with this, more sustainable modes of legal and political–economic thought and practice. A full book manuscript is in progress to expand on this analysis. Dr M’Gonigle also heads a graduate seminar in the University of Victoria Faculty of Law dedicated to engaging students in the unfolding delineation of GLT.
Related Resources and Links

  • M’Gonigle, M., and P. Ramsay, 2004. “Greening Environmental Law: From Sectoral Reform to Systemic Re-Formation,” Journal of Environmental Law and Practice. 14:333-356. Read Article

Page last updated: 01/22/2013