Originally launched in 2004 with a focus on British legal history, the [Center for Law and History at Washington and Lee University School of Law] will now promote research and teaching in all areas and periods of legal history, leveraging the University's interdisciplinary expertise in fields such as anthropology, sociology, English, religion, and the law.
According to Jill Fraley, the newly appointed director of the Center and assistant professor of law, the Center will focus its immediate efforts on bringing history into dialogue with geography, particularly in the context of critical, emerging issues such as regional governance and climate change.
"I am particularly excited to be able to focus the center on the transformative potential of history," Professor Fraley explains. "Geographically, I intend to emphasize those regions closest to our hearts here: the Appalachian Mountains and the Virginia coasts."
The Center will mark this broader direction with a fall symposium titled, "Climate Change in the Former Colonies: Challenges of Property and History." Offered in partnership with Virginia Sea Grant, the symposium will focus on the application of legal historical research to contemporary problems and opportunities in the areas of policy-making, property rights, and hazard resilience in coastal communities. Potential topics will include:
- How the colonial legal experience affects modern property rights and our responsiveness to climate change
- Historical and modern property doctrines—particularly nuisance, zoning, and eminent domain—and their relation to current climate change challenges and policies
- Changing notions of acceptable land use and natural resources
- Environmental hazard resilience policies and opportunities for their enhancement via legal strategies.