Ecology, Ethics, and Private Land

Prof. Eric Freyfogle, JD

University of Illinois College of Law

Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 1:15pm to 3:15pm

Mississippi Room, Coffman Memorial Union

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Are ecology and private property inherently in conflict? Drawing upon law, history, and philosophy, Freyfogle argues that private property is best understood as a dynamic, social institution, not an unchanging individual right. Private rights in land, water, and other parts of nature have long been tempered by concerns about the public interest, including an obligation for owners to use their property in ways that cause no harm. Those rights have been tempered too by the longstanding idea that water and wildlife are owned by the people collectively, even when located on private land private property can be reformed to accommodate concerns about environmental degradation and desires for pleasing and healthy human surroundings, Freyfogle contends that without sacrificing property's core economic and political values. 

Professor Eric Freyfogle, JD

Eric T. Freyfogle, JD, is the Max L. Rowe Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law, where for the past 20 years he has taught courses on property, natural resources, wildlife law, land use planning, and environmental law and policy. Prof. Freyfogle received his J.D. degree summa cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was managing editor of the Michigan Law Review. He served as an assistant to the Army general counsel in Washington, D.C., and practiced law in Indianapolis before joining the faculty at the University of Illinois College of Law. A native of central Illinois, he has long been active in state and local conservation groups and currently serves as President of Prairie Rivers Network, the Illinois affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. His writings include The Land We Share: Private Property and the Common Good (2003) and Bounded People, Boundless Lands: Envisioning a New Land Ethic (Island Press, 1998). He served as editor of The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, and the Community of Life (Island Press, 2001); co-edited Aldo Leopold's For the Health of the Land (Island Press, 1999); and co-authored Wildlife Law: Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 2002).