Environmental Scholarship and the Harvard Difference
Posted: 17 Nov 1999
Date Written: 1999
This article explores a series of hypotheses regarding environmental law scholarship based on an empirical review. The article examines over a thirty year time horizon such diverse aspects of environmental law scholarship as the sheer amount of scholarship, evolutionary trends in the topics for scholarly inquiry, number of environmental law courses and environmental law professors, proliferation of environmental law journals, relative rates of publication of environmental law scholarship in the nation's most prestigious law reviews, and the identity and relative ranking of those law reviews that published the articles widely viewed as the "best." The article concludes that important lessons about the nature of environmental law scholarship lurk within these numbers. The article offers some of those lessons by making a series of findings and then proffering deliberately provocative, albeit speculative, explanations for them. What commences as a seemingly quantitative undertaking ultimately becomes a more qualitative assessment of legal education and what may be too often missing in current environmental legal scholarship.
Perhaps one of the more surprising (or at least unanticipated) finding is that certain prestigious law review, most notably the Harvard Law Review and until quite recently the University of Chicago Law Review, have historically published significantly fewer environmental law articles than have their peer law reviews or law reviews in general. The paucity of published scholarship stands in sharp contrast to environmental law's remarkable and dramatic emergence during that same time period. The final part of the article proposes a series of explanatory theories for the varied findings, including the Harvard Law Review's remarkably low rate of publication of environmental law scholarship. Interestingly, there is reason to believe that the latter phenomenon reflects the Harvard Law School's implicit signaling to its student body of scholarly value (or the lack thereof) through the law school's curricular offerings and the areas of its own faculty expertise in teaching and scholarship.
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