Kelsey Leonard, a water scientist, legal scholar, policy expert, and citizen of the Native American Shinnecock Nation, will speak at the University of Exeter next week.
Her popular TED Talk, “Why lakes and rivers should have the same rights as humans”, has been viewed more than three million times.
Dr Leonard will give the Annual Environment Lecture at Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall on Friday 10 March.
This event is hosted by the Exeter Centre for Environmental Law (ExCEL), the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), and the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Exeter Cornwall.
The lecture is also part of ongoing celebrations to mark the first decade of work by the University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute and is free and open to the public.
The lecture will delve into emerging trends in Earth Law for the protection of the Rights of Mother Earth.
“I believe that one of the many solutions to solving the many water injustices we see in our world today is recognising that water is a living relation and granting it the legal personhood it deserves,” said Dr Leonard.
She will explore initiatives led by communities and governments seeking to advance more eco-centric legal and governance systems to help enact the change needed to address our environmental crises.
The lecture will highlight the power of granting rights to the living world and non-human organisms as a route to better responding to our ecological crisis.
As Professor Jane Wills, Director of the ESI, explained: “This lecture provides an opportunity to shake up our thinking, and shine a light on the kind of radical ideas that can shape practice in future.
“We are very excited about welcoming Dr Leonard to Cornwall, and hope to foster a longer term partnership to cross-fertilise our learning and ideas.”
Professor Clare Saunders, Head of Humanities and Social Sciences Cornwall, which are jointly hosting the event with the ESI, said: “Kelsey Leonard is an absolute star.
“Her pioneering work on environmental justice for indigenous peoples squares head-on with our mission in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“Our work listens to and respects marginalised voices, considers ways to rebalance damages from colonisation and finds ways to deliver justice for people in their living environments.
“We are absolutely honoured to have the opportunity to hear her speak live on our campus.”
The event will take place at the Exchange Lecture Theatre from 4pm-5pm on Friday 10 March.
Places are free but should be reserved in advance here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/annual-environment-lecture-with-dr-kelsey-leonard-tickets-549321895577