Introduction to Earth Laws 2024

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About the Course

The Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) is offering a 4-week course for people seeking to build a deeper understanding of Earth-centred law and governance, so they can develop new thinking and practice in their life and work.

Join our fantastic course and you will:

  • Build your knowledge about ancient and emerging approaches to Earth-centred governance;
  • Hone your ability to analyse, critique and challenge problematic anthropocentric (human-centred) and extractivist practices within human law and governance, that are contributing to the destruction of the living world;
  • Develop your ability to think, work and create from an Earth-centred perspective;
  • Connect and collaborate with a network of like-minded, multi-disciplinary professionals;
  • Engage at a personal and professional level, with a positive vision for the future.

Course Facilitator and Guest Speakers

The program is created, facilitated and delivered by Dr Michelle Maloney, Co-Founder and National Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance. Dr Maloney is recognised globally as a leading practitioner in the field of Earth-centred law and governance. Read more about Michelle’s qualifications, work and publications here, on AELA’s website.

Our guest speakers include:

  • Dr Mary Graham – Adjunct Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Queensland and Kombu-merri and Waka Waka First Nations person
  • Mari Margil – Rights of Nature expert and Legal Attorney, Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights (United States)
  • Margaret Stewart – Center for Earth Jurisprudence, Barry University, USA
  • Professor Rob White – expert in Green Criminology and ecocide, formerly Professor of Law at the University of Tasmania
  • And other terrific speakers being confirmed

Further Information

Why explore Earth laws?

This course is inspired by the theory of Earth jurisprudence[1], which proposes that the current ecological crisis – which has seen humanity cross 6 of the 9 Planetary Boundaries that guarantee a safe operating space for life on earth[2] – has been created by anthropocentric world views and governance systems that emerged in Western industrialised societies, and which spread around the world through colonisation and globalisation.  

Earth jurisprudence suggests that today’s dominant governance systems (including law, economics, ethics and education) have been created by a world view that believes we are separate from the interconnected web of life. This world view has enabled the development of human governance systems that support unsustainable extractivism and large scale environmental degradation. Today, industrialised societies need rapid systems change, in order to restore environmental health, build sustainable societies and support the interconnected community of life.

In this course we examine law and governance from three perspectives – western law, Indigenous law and emerging Earth laws. We examine the theory, practice and emerging trends in this rapidly growing area of law and governance.


[1] See AELA’s website – https://www.earthlaws.org.au/aelc/earth-jurisprudence/

[2] See for example – Ian Angus, The Earth System has passed six of Earth’s nine Planetary Boundaries, 18 September 2023, https://www.resilience.org/stories/2023-09-18/the-earth-system-has-passed-six-of-nine-planetary-boundaries/


Course Content
During our 4 week course you will:
  • Learn about the theory and practice of Earth jurisprudence: an overarching framework for analysing current modalities of human governance.
  • Be introduced to Earth-centred philosophy and ethics, including Indigenous philosophies such as the Relationist Ethos.
  • Be introduced to the ancient principles and emerging concepts of Earth-centred law and governance: including Indigenous Peoples’ First Laws, the growing Rights of Nature movement, Ecocide law and ‘Ecological Law’.
  • Be invited to explore the practical implications of Earth centred law and governance to your own work and/or areas of interest.
Mode of Delivery
  • All classes are delivered online (using Zoom video conferencing).
  • Live classes will be held on Tuesdays from 4pm to 6pm AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time), to allow you to complete the course amid existing professional and personal commitments. Classes are informal and interactive, to enable participants to get to know each other, build connections and learn in different ways.
  • Each class includes the course facilitator and up to two expert speakers. Short talks will be given live in class, followed by opportunities for questions and discussions.
  • Resources – including reading lists and video/audio materials – will be available approximately 4 weeks before the course commences, for people who would like to engage with the course materials and prepare for the class discussions.
Assessment (optional)

Assessment is optional.  For those seeking a certificate of completion and/or digital badge, AELA offers an assessment module at the end of the course. Assessment will involve two elements: (1) a multiple choice test and (2) a written essay (or as an alternative to the written essay, an oral presentation) addressing key issues addressed in the course.

Course Facilitator

The program is created, facilitated and delivered by Dr Michelle Maloney, Co-Founder and National Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance.

Dr Maloney is recognised globally as a leading practitioner in the field of Earth-centred law and governance. Read more about Michelle’s qualifications, work and publications on AELA’s website.

Scholarships and Payment Plans

Limited scholarships are available for students and volunteers within not-for-profit organisations who need support to participate in the course. Payment plans are also available – please email us for the details: aela@earthlaws.org.au

Course Content

Course Introduction and Zoom Links for Live Classes

  • Introduction
    00:00
  • Zoom Links for Live Classes
    00:00

Week 1: Introduction to Earth Jurisprudence – 5 March 2024
Introduction to Earth jurisprudence, Earth laws and ecological law and governance

Week 2: Indigenous First Laws and the Law of Obligation – 12 March 2024
Learn about the Earth-centred philosophy, culture and governance systems of the First Nations peoples of Australia.

Week 3: Rights of Nature – 19 March 2024
Take a deep dive into the rapidly growing area of law connected to the ‘Rights of Nature’ and legal personhood for nature.

Week 4: Ecocide and Green Criminology – 26 March 2024
Be introduced to the theory and practical implications of recognising ecocide as a crime, internationally and in Australia.

Assessments (Optional)
The Essay Question and Final Quiz will become available at the end of the course.

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