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Is Law a Profession or a Discipline?
MRIC 2013/14

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Is Law a Profession or a Discipline?

The Role of Law in Interdisciplinary Research:
Is Law a Profession or a Discipline?

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 | 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Whitewater Room, Idaho Commons

Barbara Cosens, Professor of Law - University of Idaho

Law can be thought of as both a profession and a discipline and can function as either in an interdisciplinary research project. The key for interdisciplinary collaboration is to know which to apply. In the academic setting, law is more frequently approached from the professional viewpoint in outreach or service, and from the viewpoint of a discipline in interdisciplinary research. The current review of the Columbia River Treaty and the involvement of the Universities Consortium on Columbia River Governance in engaging and informing basin stakeholders illustrates the role of law in outreach in what is nevertheless, a highly interdisciplinary project. The same treaty review process is part of a case study for an interdisciplinary research project on adaptive governance. The resilience and law project, supported by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) under funding from the National Science Foundation DBI-1052875, is bringing together an interdisciplinary team of legal scholars, ecologists and climate scientists to explore governance of major North American water basins in the face of uncertainty and changing climate. This project illustrates the role of law as a discipline in an interdisciplinary project.

Barbara Cosens is a professor with the University of Idaho College of Law and the Waters of the West Graduate Program, which includes options for concurrent J.D./M.S. and J.D./Ph.D. degrees. She teaches Water Law, Water Policy, Law and Science, and a leads a team taught course in Interdisciplinary Methods in Water Resources. Her research interests include the integration of law and science in water resource management and dispute resolution, water management and resilience, and the recognition and settlement of Native American water rights. She is co-chair on a project funded through the NSF synthesis center, SESYNC: Adaptive Governance in Regional Water Systems to Manage Resilience in an era of Changing Climate. She is a member of the Universities Consortium on Columbia River Governance.
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