Law, Society & State: Clean Energy Technology

This course focuses on the laws and policies pertaining to clean energy technologies in Canada and what changes are needed, if any, to enable these technologies to significantly grow and expand in an effort to better address climate change. We begin with a review of various technologies — including electricity from solar, wind and geothermal; and heating/cooling from waste processing, wastewater processing, sewer systems, and district energy systems. Students will then choose a clean energy technology to research and develop throughout the next segment of the course which is focused on whether and how the production, transmission, and distribution of these energy sources should be regulated and financed in Canada, as compared to existing frameworks for conventional oil and gas, as well as hydro and nuclear. We consider the roles that federal, provincial and local governments can and should play in this process in light of international, constitutional, and administrative regulatory frameworks. Moreover, we assess policy tools -– such as clean energy credits, cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, externality disclosure policies, energy retrofit programs, green building initiatives, and loan loss reserve funds — that help promote clean energy by making non-renewable sources more costly. Students will apply their knowledge gained throughout the course to the particular clean energy technology that they selected earlier and then will prepare and provide an in-class presentation and written research paper on the strategy that they have developed to enable their selected technology to succeed. Classes will include lectures, expert guest speakers, discussions, and student presentations.

Legal Values: Property, the Environment, and Equality

Property is at the heart of economic institutions, beliefs about freedom and security, and people’s understanding of their relationship to the Earth. The focus of this course is (1) understanding the role of property law in harm to the environment and in human relations of inequality and (2) exploring alternatives to the norms and legal forms of property.  To do this, we will integrate analysis of political theory, legal theory, legal history, case law, environmental policy, and issues such as housing and homelessness.  This course will explore the connections between property law and beliefs basic to the economic and political systems of common law countries. For example, we will look at how property law expresses and maintains assumptions about human superiority to other life forms, and the links between those beliefs and settler colonialism.  We will (briefly) look at the legal history of property to understand evolving structures of power and inequality, and the role of property law in that evolution. Legal history provides a perspective that allows us to see that beliefs and practices dominant today have not existed from “time immemorial.” This then sets the stage for examining viable alternatives to existing property structures. In exploring those alternatives, we will look to Indigenous law, comparative law, and the potential for existing legal concepts like “trust” to be re-purposed. We will look at issues of human inequality and the ways they are interwoven with environmental harm. Hierarchies among humans and between humans and the Earth (with humans at the top of a pyramid of life forms) are interconnected through property law. Because property is so embedded in institutions and norms, transformation will require a deep rethinking of core beliefs. We will look at some of the resources for re-envisioning property and the values associated with it. In addition to Indigenous teachings (including learning from the land), these include:  the invocation of spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism and Christianity, to promote care for the earth; theories of the role of competition vs cooperation in evolution and contemporary “human nature;” the importance of nature for human health. Specific topics will include: property and settler colonialism; animals as legal beings; learning to care for the earth; the history of exclusion from the land; the importance of “place” in assessing loss of property; the idea of all land held in trust for the earth community, present and future; the power and threat of the myth of absolute rights of property; property, poverty, and homelessness.

Indigenous Perspectives and Realities

This course will introduce students to fundamentals of knowledge systems that inform  
Indigenous understandings of law, justice, governance and treaties.  It is intended to provide students with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the lived experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada.   This course is offered as an experiential education opportunity that will assist students in gaining familiarity, in a variety of contexts, with the diversity of Indigenous worldviews, ontologies and epistemologies that frame Indigenous reality.  The course will examine major political, educational, economic, legal, and cultural issues facing Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada in both present-day and historical contexts.  Course material will be drawn from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Ipperwash Inquiry, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Murdered Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry; as well as other materials that provide insights into the contemporary reality of Indigenous peoples. As the main goal of the course is for students to demonstrate a sound appreciation for the perspectives and realities of Indigenous peoples, students will learn directly from Indigenous peoples through guest speakers and assigned multi-media.  Students will be required to participate in land based  and experiential activities outside of the law school; there will be a remote option for students to fulfill these requirements remotely.   The course will be framed around the concept of ‘place’ (e.g., urban  
Toronto) and explore relationships to place from a variety of experiential perspectives (e.g., Indigenous, ally, settler Canadian, newcomer).

Climate Change Law

Climate disruption is attributable to historical and current day modes of production and consumption. Enduring solutions will require significant shifts in how modern societies are governed. Governance, in this context, is unlikely to succeed without attention to related priorities of sustainability, justice, and cohesion. Yet there is ample evidence that many leaders and institutions are unable or unwilling to address the challenge effectively.
 
This seminar explores legal and policy issues related to efforts to control the causes and respond to the impacts of climate disruption. It approaches the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective that considers law, science, politics, economics, and history. The seminar is concerned with how these perspectives can support pragmatic strategies in different areas of law and policy and at different levels of decision-making.

The seminar has two thematic segments. The first segment will examine the historical, political, economic, and scientific background within which the modern problem of climate disruption has arisen. This segment will also provide a broad survey of the major international legal regimes that have been developed to address the problem.
 
The second segment will focus on analyzing legal and institutional barriers to pragmatic action towards forestalling climate disruption and mitigating its impact on society. Particular attention will be paid to core societal functions such as food production, land management, water and wastewater infrastructure, energy, transportation, and communications. Students will have the opportunity to do their research in a relevant area.

Legal Values: Rise of Environmental, Social & Governance Expectations in Business

Society faces complex global challenges—climate change and environmental degradation, social and financial inequality, digital and data security concerns. More than ever before, business is being called upon by multiple stakeholders to be part of the solution to these challenges. The rise of stakeholder capitalism including heightened ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) expectations is one of the most profound changes for business and its
legal construct that has occurred in decades. Whether business strategy has an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to societal solutions depends in large part on the legal, policy and regulatory framework that is constructed.

In this course, we will examine the evolving legal construct of stakeholder capitalism and develop an understanding of the components of ESG: the E (Environmental); the S (Social); and the G (Governance). We will look in turn at the major legal issues and opportunities that come from these potentially profound changes to business including:

• measurement, disclosure and transparency of corporations,
• the advent of ESG products,
• legal and reputational risk management by major brands,
• burgeoning litigation claims,
• the role of and levers of policy makers, NGOs and regulators both at home and globally, and
• the expectations of multiple stakeholders including employees, consumers, shareholders and the community including Indigenous communities.

To do so, we will invite business and practitioner speakers to supplement the readings and legal teaching with the practical insights of those “on the ground” in this fast-developing space.

There is no doubt that the rise of ESG is changing the needed toolkit of lawyers across multiple disciplines and creating new legal fields and innovative areas of expertise. Combining legal theory with exposure to practical application, the course will assist students to develop the necessary tools to advise on legal issues involving ESG and to prepare for the new career opportunities that are arising.

Indigenous Perspectives and Realities

This course will introduce students to fundamentals of knowledge systems that inform Indigenous understandings of law, justice, governance, and treaties.  It is intended to provide students with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the lived experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada.   This course is offered as an experiential education opportunity that will assist students in gaining familiarity with Indigenous voices and priorities, in a variety of contexts, with the diversity of Indigenous worldviews, ontologies and epistemologies that frame Indigenous realities. The course will examine major political, educational, economic, legal, and cultural issues facing Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada in both present-day and historical contexts.  Course material will be drawn from processes such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Ipperwash Inquiry, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Murdered Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry; as well as other materials that provide insights into the contemporary realities of Indigenous peoples.  
As the main goal of the course is for students to demonstrate a sound appreciation for the perspectives and realities of Indigenous peoples, students will learn directly from Indigenous peoples through guest speakers and assigned multi-media.  Students will be required to participate in land-based and experiential activities outside of the law school; with potential options for students to fulfill these requirements remotely. The course will be framed around the concept of place’ (e.g., urban Toronto) and explore relationships to place from a variety of experiential perspectives (e.g., Indigenous, ally, settler Canadian, relation, newcomer).

Indigenous Perspectives and Realities

This course will introduce students to fundamentals of knowledge systems that inform  
Indigenous understandings of law, justice, governance and treaties.  It is intended to provide students with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the lived experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada.   This course is offered as an experiential education opportunity that will assist students in gaining familiarity, in a variety of contexts, with the diversity of Indigenous worldviews, ontologies and epistemologies that frame Indigenous reality.  The course will examine major political, educational, economic, legal, and cultural issues facing Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada in both present-day and historical contexts.  Course material will be drawn from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Ipperwash Inquiry, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Murdered Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry; as well as other materials that provide insights into the contemporary reality of Indigenous peoples. As the main goal of the course is for students to demonstrate a sound appreciation for the perspectives and realities of Indigenous peoples, students will learn directly from Indigenous peoples through guest speakers and assigned multi-media.  Students will be required to participate in land based  and experiential activities outside of the law school; there will be a remote option for students to fulfill these requirements remotely.   The course will be framed around the concept of ‘place’ (e.g., urban  
Toronto) and explore relationships to place from a variety of experiential perspectives (e.g., Indigenous, ally, settler Canadian, newcomer).

Comparative Law: Indigenous Legal Traditions

This seminar will introduce students to non-state Indigenous legal orders. Using a transsystemic pedagogical model and a wide range of reading materials (legal cases, methodology, pedagogy, anthropology, theory) students will critically explore the theories and practices of indigenous legal traditions through analysis and substantive treatment of: indigenous sources of law; oral histories and traditions (as legal archive); legal cases and precedent; modes of reasoning and interpretation; and authority and legitimacy.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This course will provide a critical survey of state law as it relates to Indigenous peoples in Canada. The focus will be on the following topics: the historical context and constitutional framework; Aboriginal rights and title; self-government; treaties and treaty rights; and introduction to the Indian Act; and the authority and obligations of the federal and provincial governments.

This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This substantive law course will explore the interactions between Canadian common law and Indigenous law, primarily Anishinaabe law. The content will be viewed through the lens of Indigenous worldviews. Topics will include, but are not limited to: Indigenous sources of law; historical context and constitutional framework re: Indigenous Peoples; Aboriginal Rights, Title and the Doctrine of Discovery; treaties; resource rights and consultation; and the Indian Act and Identity. The course will be presented from a practitioner’s perspective working within Anishinaabe communities, with attention to practical intersections between the various topics. This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments.