By Dean Phil Weiser
In July of 2011, as Colorado Law’s Natural Resources Law Center approached its 30th anniversary, Dean David Getches proposed a planning process to elevate the Center that he co-founded and to spark the Law School’s next phase of leadership in the areas of natural resources, energy, and environmental law. David recognized that the fields in which the Center had made its mark—Western water, public land management, oil and gas, and mining law—had expanded, diversified, and grown more complex. At the same time, he knew that the Center should both benefit from and support not only the Center's outstanding staff--including our long-time leaders Doug Kenney and Kathryn Mutz—but also the broader expertise of Colorado Law’s new generation of outstanding faculty experts in these fields, including Sarah Krakoff, Lakshman Guruswamy, Mark Squillace (who also acted as Executive Director of the NRLC), William Boyd, and Michael Soules.
As the faculty worked together to develop an enhanced mission for the Center, I thought about the appropriate name for the Center. It was clear to me and our new generation of faculty that we should honor both David Getches and Charles Wilkinson. The two were professional partners, the closest of friends, and collaborators since the early 1970s, and both have been giant contributors not only to these fields of law and policy, but also to Colorado Law.
As we inaugurate the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and Environment, we are setting out with an ambitious agenda that builds on our status as thought leaders by convening high-level conferences, engaging more effectively with a broad set of stakeholders, continuing to hire top quality scholars and teachers, and inspiring—and being inspired by—our students.
By Charles Wilkinson
The Law School has long been known for its excellence in, and commitment to, the field of natural resources law, and the Natural Resources Law Center has been a research and outreach leader in the field for 30 years. In more recent years, the Law School also has developed several robust programs in environmental, Indian, energy, and international law outside of the NRLC organizational framework.
For example, Colorado Law’s Center for Energy and Environmental Security has successfully engaged communities around the world to bring appropriate sustainable energy technologies to some of the one-third of the world’s population that survive with little or no access to beneficial energy for cooking, heating, water sanitation, illumination, transportation, or basic mechanical needs. The Energy Innovation Initiative brings together leaders from government, law, finance, industry, and academia to develop innovative approaches to our energy security and sustainability challenges across a range of sectors. And our faculty, research fellows, and students have been supporting tribal environmental and natural resources managers with research and assistance with their important efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment will be grounded in the successful legacies of both the NRLC and our other existing programs. But it will be driven by a broader agenda and our aspirations for deeper influence by producing high-quality and impactful research to help identify and solve natural resources, energy, and environmental challenges. We will improve our coordination and collaboration with students, scholars, attorneys, members of nonprofit organizations, tribal leaders, members of the scientific communities, business leaders, representatives of governments at all levels, and the general public to address important, complex issues in these fields. In that spirit, we will continue and expand our traditional role as a valued convener.
Our commitments and ambitions are captured in the Center’s mission statement:
Serving the people of the American West, the nation, and the world through creative, interdisciplinary research, bold, inclusive teaching, and innovative problem solving in order to further true sustainability for our lands, waters, and environment.
With these words as our guide and a new organization to enable us, the Getches-Wilkinson Center will break new paths into the frontiers of natural resources, energy, and environmental law and policy through research, education, and convening.
Charles Wilkinson is a Distinguished Professor, Moses Lasky Professor of Law, and Chair of the Center’s Board