Sunday, July 15, 2012

Notes from a Connecticut Carouser – More on The Environmental Law Collaborative

I wanted to add a few notes to follow up on Jessica Owley’s post about The Environmental Law Collaborative (ELC) meeting in Connecticut last week.  I was lucky to be chosen as one of the participants for this initial meeting of the group and its exploration of issues around sustainability and climate change.  I want to offer my sincere thanks to Jessica Owley, Keith Hirokawa, Mike Berger, and Elizabeth Burleson for not only organizing a great three days, but bringing to fruition what I believe is a new way for scholars to meet and discuss ideas.  I would agree with Jessie that this event was among the best I’ve attended in my (very young) academic career.  In reflecting on the weekend, I had several thoughts on how the structure of the event affected my conception of academic engagement:

--The small group size and informal nature of the group provided an opportunity for more discourse that is typical in formal panel presentations.  Judging from the success of the event, it seems to me law schools should encourage and fund more of these smaller, informal get-togethers.

--There was a nice mix of junior and senior scholars, and that really did add to the pleasure of the event.

--Keeping a small group seems important to the dialog.  Of course, the question then becomes how to include more people in such events.  I wonder if there would be a way to “package” the experience, like TED has done with its lecture series, and make it easier for more people to participate in multiple, simultaneous small fora, but all under the rubric of one large topic.  For instance, what if there were multiple groups around the country simultaneously engaged in essentially the same thing we were doing in the woods of Connecticut?  That is an ambitious project, but could be a way to foster both intimate conversation and create a larger dialog.

I seem to recall agreeing to help plan the next meeting of the ELC, which will likely be a couple years down the road.  I can only hope to build on what Jessie, Keith, Mike and Elizabeth started this summer, which will be a hard act to follow.

Stephen R. Miller

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