The Clason Speaker Series
Since 1988 the Clason Speaker Series has provided a venue for legal experts to present works in progress on current legal topics through lectures to the Western New England University School of Law community. Insightful, thought-provoking, and a source of lively discussion, the Clason Speaker Series provides a valuable forum for the discussion of current topics in the legal academy.
Please join us as we celebrate our 25th year. The theme this fall is "Current Issues in Environmental Law."
Michael B. Gerrard: "Can the Law Save Island Nations from Drowning?”
Professor of Law, Columbia School of Law
Monday, September 23, 2013, 12:00 noon, Law School Common
Around the world, but especially in the Pacific, the habitability and, eventually, the very survival of several small island nations are threatened by rising seas, largely as a result of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Professor Gerrard will address the international and domestic legal mechanisms that exist or can be imagined to help these nations, and to deal with the expected international refugee crises.
Karl S. Coplan: "The Climate Activism Model: Civil Rights, Prohibition, or Abolition?”
Professor of Law, Pace Law School
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 12:00 noon, Law School Common
The radical economic and social changes necessary to address global warming are expected to be driven by law and legal institutions, says Professor Coplan, but law-driven social changes of this magnitude, while not unprecedented, are scarce. Today’s climate activist model resembles the civil rights movement of the 1960s and also the temperance and prohibition movements. And a successful shift to a carbon-free economy might resemble the abolition of slavery more than any of these.
Robin Craig: "New Directions in State Public Trust Doctrines in a Climate Change Era"
Professor of Law, S. J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
Thursday, November 14, 2013; 12:00 noon, Law School Common
Professor Craig will give a quick overview of the basics of the public trust doctrine and discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court's apparently final—but still problematic—abdication of public trust doctrine authority to the states in PPL Montana v. Montana. She will then look at the different directions states are going with their public trust doctrines, including the ecological public trust doctrines and the very new atmospheric public trust doctrines, and end with a brief look at how these new and expanded public trust doctrines might help us cope with climate change.
Clason Speakers since 1988
About the Clason Speaker Series
Legal experts such as . . .
- Stephen L. Carter
- Laura Dickinson
- Jennifer Gordon
- Lani Guinier
- Anita Hill
- Charles Ogletree
- Michael Ratner
- Howard Shelanski
. . . from institutions such as Boston College Law School, Columbia Law School, Cornell Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard Law School, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and Yale Law School have been Clason Speakers. They've discussed a wide range of contemporary topics, including:
- decision-making in capital cases
- mothers and crime
- beyond the privacy principle
- lawyering for poor communities in the 21st century
- reparations for conflict-related sexual violence
- criminal terrorist prosecutions
- public interest lawyers and the quest for immigrant workers' rights
Speakers have also given their perspectives on historic law, through topics such as:
- legal ethics and fugitive slaves
- the debate over the central meaning of the Fourth Amendment
- Williams v. Lee and the debate over Indian equality
- the Reconstruction amendments
- emblems of federalism
- reflections on mistakes and the law
Charles R. Clason
The series is named after Charles R. Clason, a prominent local attorney and member of the U.S. House of Representatives who held the position of Dean of the School of Law from 1954 to 1970. At that time, Western New England University provided part-time legal education only. During Clason’s tenure all classroom instruction was provided by adjunct faculty who were eminent practitioners of the law. Clason worked to ensure that the faculty developed as academicians, while not forsaking their mission to provide practical legal education.
A resident of Springfield, Clason spent most of the 1920s in the Western Massachusetts District Attorney’s office, first as an Assistant District Attorney, then as District Attorney. A Republican, Clason represented the Second Congressional District of Massachusetts from 1936 to 1948. He was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1970 in recognition of his many years of educational service to Western New England University. Clason passed away in 1985 at the age of 94.
Today, the School of Law is an ABA-accredited, AALS-member institution, and Clason lives on through the Charles and Emma Clason Endowment Fund, which provides for speakers who enhance the academic environment for faculty and students.
This page lists all Clason Speakers since 1988. A recording of each event is linked, where possible.