News and Events

TILEC Seminar: Melissa Scanlan

Law and Policy for a New Economy: Sustainable, Just, and Democratic
10:45-11:45, M 1003

Melissa Scanlan co-founded the New Economy Law Center with Gus Speth in 2015 and is now directing the Center. An active scholar, she is also directing the Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship. From 2013-2017, she served as the Associate Dean of the Environmental Law Program and Director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School. Prior to joining VLS, she was the University of Wisconsin Law School's Water Law and Policy Scholar, where she led a pilot project on interdisciplinary water research and teaching. She was also a lead consultant involved in launching the Center for Water Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences 2011.

Over a decade earlier, she received a competitive Equal Justice Works Fellowship (formerly NAPIL) and an Echoing Green Fellowship to found and direct Midwest Environmental Advocates, Wisconsin's first non-profit environmental law center.

Selected as a Wisconsin Super Lawyers' Rising Star in 2006, 2007, and 2008, Professor Scanlan has represented clients in high impact lawsuits and shaped public policy in areas ranging from the Great Lakes Compact and water supply issues to enforcement and implementation of the Clean Water Act.

Melissa Scanlan earned a law degree and Master of Science in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California-Berkeley. Her scholarly articles have focused on the public trust doctrine, the Great Lakes Compact, adaptive management, and empirical research about water management.


  • Water Rights and Allocation
  • Environmental Law

Melissa Scanlan will present  Law and Policy for a New Economy: Sustainable, Just, and Democratic which is  the title of her book, available here

Her talk will cover the first chapter in the book.  You can read that chapter by going to the link and clicking on “look inside” and then scrolling to chapter 1.  


Climate change, system change, and the path forward                  

By Melissa K. Scanlan

The current global economic system, which is fueled by externalizing environmental costs, growing exponentially, consuming more, and a widening wealth gap between rich and poor, is misaligned to meet the climate imperative to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs).
  Amidst this system breakdown as we reach the end of the Industrial Age, the new economy movement has emerged to provide an alternative approach where ecological balance, wealth equity, and vibrant democracy are central to economic activity. 

Laws are the fundamental infrastructure that undergirds our economic and political system. Environmental law is typically conceived as a set of rules that establish pollutant limits for specific waterbodies, protect an identified species, or direct an industry to use a required technology.  Although necessary, these types of law do not address the fundamentals of our political economy, and the most dramatic failure of environmental law is seen in increasing amounts of GHGs and global climate disruption.  In order to develop a new economic system that is aligned with a climate and economic justice imperative, we need laws that will facilitate the new system and discourage the old. 

This chapter discusses systems thinking and systems change, highlighting leverage points to achieve change. It gives an overview of the new economy movement that has emerged to provide a new narrative, and using a systems lens, identifies areas where the law needs to evolve to facilitate building a more sustainable, equitable, and democratic future.

When: 09 May 2018 10:45

End date: 09 May 2018 11:45

Where: Montesquieu building