|Barry and St.
Thomas University law schools announce jointly-created Center for
MIAMI, Florida- June 26, 2006 --Thanks to a $1 million grant from
the estate of Marie V. Gendron to the Sisters of St. Dominic of
Adrian, Michigan, Barry and St. Thomas Universities-home to the
only Catholic law schools in Florida-have jointly created the nation's
first Center for Earth Jurisprudence.
In a dual announcement made by BU President Sister Linda Bevilacqua,
OP, PhD, and STU President Rev. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, the
two leaders of Catholic higher education in South Florida will combine
to co-sponsor and collaborate on this first-of-its-kind effort.
Based out of St. Thomas University's Miami Gardens campus, the center
will look at law and governance from an earth-centered-rather than
"This landmark collaboration will enable both of our Law Schools
to uniquely prepare their students for the unprecedented ecological
legal challenges they will face in the coming years," said
Msgr. Casale. "It is my great honor to share in this partnership
that not only provides a much needed place for social, moral and
philosophical dialogue on environmental issues but also strengthen
the overall mission of Catholic higher education in the State of
Earth jurisprudence is premised on the concept that law and governance
is meant to protect the well-being of the health and integral functioning
of the planet so that all components of the earth community live
in healthy ecosystems and maintain sustained diversity of the natural
world. Using an interdisciplinary approach, part of the mission
of the center, therefore, will be research into developing a philosophy
and practice of law that is responsive to ecological and ethical
imperatives related to a deteriorating state of planetary systems
in the 21st century.
The new center will be directed by Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, JD,
and will open its doors in Fall 2006. While located at St. Thomas,
it will have a virtual office at the Barry University Dwayne O.
Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Programming initiatives
will occur jointly between the two campuses.
"The work of this center will be unique within legal education
in the United States," Siemen stated. "Given the rapidly
deteriorating state of health of the planet, this center will provide
visionary research that sparks new ways of thinking about law and
governance that understands that the human community is a part of
the seamless Earth community. The sacredness of the entire natural
world will be a foundational principle for the center as well as
Catholic social teaching on ecology and care for the 'commons.'
The center will further the 2004 Adrian Dominican Congregational
Vision to 'seek truth, make peace, reverence life,' and discover
what it means to 'live right relationships with Earth community.'
"We now have the exceptional opportunity to respond to a critical
need to rethink the very legal foundations that currently restrict
an understanding of what it means to live in an interdependent 'biosphere'
(rather than a solely human-centered planet)," BU's Bevilacqua
added. "This approach will drive the legal analysis and advocacy
needed by attorneys engaged in legal practice in the future, particularly
the governance and social policies that impact the integrity of
Linda Bevilacqua, OP
Rev. Msgr. Franklyn Casale
Pat Siemen, OP