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Reading Law in the Landscape
MRIC 2015/16

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Reading Law in the Landscape

Jerrold Long
College of Law

Presented with support of the Provost’s Office and University Honors Program


The law is commonly understood – by lawyers and non-lawyers alike – as text. And the practice of law is similarly understood as an exercise in the interpretation of text as it might apply in a particular factual context. But the law is, of course, more than just text. Law is an integral component of the physical landscape, and contemporary landscapes are shaped by law as much as any other factor.

Law is also a product of the landscapes it helps create, as our cultural understandings of nature, its purpose, and our relationship with it develop as we interact with specific places and landscapes. As we seek to understand particular places and the people who are parts of those places, and specifically how we might appropriately manage natural resources and landscapes, we must learn to recognize the law as its winds its way through and creates a place. In this presentation, Prof. Long will share stories of a few places in the Greater Yellowstone area of southeastern Idaho to illustrate how we might better understand the interactions of law, culture, and the meaning of the physical landscape.


Jerrold (Jerry) Long is a professor in the College of Law and the Waters of the West interdisciplinary graduate program. He teaches courses in property, land use, environmental, and natural resources law. Prof. Long studied law at the University of Colorado-Boulder and practiced law in Wyoming before earning a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s interdisciplinary Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He has been a member of the UI law faculty since 2007.

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