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Stanford Law School Honors 2014 Bright Award Recipient Art Sterritt

This story was written by Bjorn Carey and was published Oct. 3 in the online edition of the Stanford Report.

For a professional artist, sculptor and goldsmith, Art Sterritt has led a remarkably successful second life as an environmental conservationist.

Art Sterritt

Art Sterritt

As the founding executive director of Coastal First Nations (CFN) in British Columbia, Canada, Sterritt led the establishment of the 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest, a protected 250-mile stretch of coastline north of Vancouver. The ecosystem accounts for a quarter of the world’s remaining coastal temperate rainforests, and CFN has established services within it that allow member nations to create sustainable businesses within the territory.

“The natural capital that has sustained us now requires us to help sustain them,” Sterritt said. “We basically have taken 25 percent of the coastal temperate rainforest left on the planet, and we can guarantee that it will be there forever.”

Visit to Stanford

On Thursday, Sterritt, the 2014 Stanford Bright Award recipient, visited campus to share his experiences in an evening lecture, and sat down for a lunchtime conversation led by Felicity Barringer, an environmental reporter for the New York Times.

Issued by Stanford Law School, it is the only award to recognize significant achievement in conservation across different regions of the world. The prize was made possible by a gift to Stanford Law School from Ray Bright, Stanford Law School class of 1959, and his wife, Marcelle. Bright passed away in 2011, but his brothers, George and Michael Bright, serve on the advisory board.

“Art has done remarkable work in helping to preserve the Great Bear Rainforest, and it’s one of the great environmental achievements in North America in recent history,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School.

In addition to raising $120 million from government, corporate and private donations to fund the protection and management of the region, Sterritt has helped usher in practices that will make the program sustainable in the long term.

One of those involves protecting trees and selling carbon offsets. Great Bear Rainforest has 875,000 tons of carbon offsets available annually, Sterritt said, which it sells for upward of $15 a ton to environmentally responsible corporations and governments. That revenue helps fund the management of the rainforest.

Sustainability pays off

“The natural capital of the region pays our people to manage the forests now,” Sterritt said. “The area is actually protecting itself. We as people depend on the forests, then for a while the forests depended on us. Now we depend on forests again. We’re simply changing the paradigm back to what it had been for a millennium.”

This is a dramatic shift from only a few decades ago, Sterritt said, when outside industry threatened to overexploit the forests and fisheries. Commercial logging had been so intense that at one point scientists projected that land set aside for this use would be depleted within 20 years. Now, any business conducted within the park must meet incredibly strict environmental standards, established by CFN.

Marrying modern scientific knowledge with generations of native wisdom has been central to Sterritt’s success. He has recruited top scientists to analyze the ecosystem and judge the environmental impact of business plans. Frequently, when representatives from First Nations, governments and corporations meet at the negotiating table, they each bring their own data. Sterritt said he’s been so successful in large part because of his novel approach to negotiating: merge the data sets. The negotiating parties then draw upon the communal database to establish an ecosystem-based management and business plan that satisfies CFN.

“There are [people and corporations] that don’t quite agree with the result, but they can’t disagree with the process, because they’re all part of it,” Sterritt said.

Although the management of Great Bear Rainforest serves as a model for how indigenous people can preserve their culture and land while co-existing with industry, these dealings rarely work as smoothly as has been the case with CFN. Barringer asked Sterritt for the secret to his success.

“You have to personalize things and get people in the regions to make sure that they understand,” Sterritt said. “You have to respect the people. We shared good information with them, and they made the decisions.”

Response to oil companies

When weighing proposals for oil production or pipelines in the territory, for example, Sterritt and other CFN members visited the sites of the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon spills. They learned about how even the latest oil cleanup technologies had barely made a dent in these environmental disasters, and in some case made the situation worse. They reported these findings to their members, and CFN has collectively issued a tanker ban along Great Bear Rainforest, and says that no pipeline will ever cross the land. Recent polls show that a strong majority of British Columbians support these decisions.

The work often takes patience and perseverance, Sterritt said. Convincing fellow First Nations members to make additional forest off-limits to logging in order to sell the carbon offsets was a difficult concept to explain. But once the first payments came in, the people understood the financial benefits associated with preserving and nurturing the land.

Sterritt and his wife, Pat, have 16 grandchildren, all of whom live within Great Bear. This makes it even more important to him, he said, to ensure that the riches of the land will be available for future generations.

“We’ve been here for 10,000 years, and we’ll be there 10,000 years from now,” Sterritt said. “Our social safety net is our forest, our water and our air.”

The Bright Award, issued by Stanford Law School in collaboration with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, honors significant achievement in conservation in different regions of the world and is the top environmental award at Stanford. The award was created by a gift to Stanford Law School in 2007 from Raymond E. Bright Jr., JD ’59, on behalf of his late wife, Marcelle, and himself. Mr. Bright died in 2011.

Sterritt was nominated for the award by a committee composed of Stanford Law School faculty and students, with assistance from consultants experienced in this year’s designated North American region. The dean of Stanford Law School selected the final award recipient. An advisory board, consisting of Michael Bright, George Bright and Alan Markle, helps oversee the Stanford Bright Award. Next year’s recipient will be selected from Europe.

For more information, visit http://brightaward.stanford.edu.

Stanford scholar named MacArthur fellow

This story was written by Clifton Parker and was published Sept. 17 in the online edition of the Stanford Report.

Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, who studies race and the law, has been named one of the 2014 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She is an associate professor of psychology and (by courtesy) of law at Stanford University,

Jennifer Eberhardt

Jennifer Eberhardt has been awarded a MacArthur fellowship.

The fellowships, given to scholars for their achievement and potential, include a $625,000 stipend over five years. The honors rank among the most prestigious prizes in academia and the creative arts. They are sometimes referred to as the “genius” awards.

“I feel it gives me the space to pursue my research with new energy and motivation,”Eberhardt said. “It reaffirms how important the issues of race and inequality are in the legal system.”

When the foundation initially contacted her to inform her that she was named a fellow, Eberhardt was overwhelmed. “I had no inkling, no idea they were considering me. It felt like a pivotal moment in my life.”

When the awards were publicly announced on Sept. 16, Eberhardt received numerous calls and emails from colleagues, friends and family. “I think I had only a couple hours of sleep,” she chuckled. Sept. 18 promised to be even busier – in addition to the MacArthur media inquiries, she was due to give two different presentations on racial disparities to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“But I feel good and have the energy,” Eberhardt said. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”

Joined Stanford in 1998

Since she arrived on campus in 1998, Eberhardt has examined the role that racial stereotypes play in the criminalization of African-Americans. She joined the Stanford faculty after teaching at Yale University, and is currently an associate professor in psychology and co-director of SPARQ, a university initiative that addresses social problems.

Her colleague Greg Walton, a Stanford assistant professor of psychology, said that Eberhardt’s research has vital social significance. “In helping understand our minds, Jennifer’s research helps us see the kinds of changes we need to make in society to help give all people a fair shot,” he said.

A first-generation college graduate from Cleveland, Ohio, Eberhardt said that her parents instilled in her a love of education. She witnessed the disparity in education in the different neighborhoods where she grew up, and soon fell in love with learning. Her late father, Harlan, a postal mail worker, “understood the power of education,” she said.

And her late mother, Mary, was inspired enough by her daughter’s collegiate success – she earned a doctorate from Harvard – to go to college herself at midlife.

“Education is transformational,” Eberhardt said.

Expanding research

Now, the MacArthur fellowship will greatly expand her research plans and resources to connect with real-world policy. “I hope to work with more law enforcement agencies and do things off the beaten path,” Eberhardt said, noting that she’s currently engaged with the Oakland Police Department on the analysis of racial profiling data. “Many of the (law enforcement) agencies collect the data but often don’t know what to do with it,” she said.

As Eberhardt pointed out, although African-Americans constitute only 12 percent of America’s population, they represent 40 percent of the nation’s prison inmates.

Her statistical analysis has shown that police officers are more likely to identify African-American faces than white faces as criminal. In one experimental study, people who were exposed to black faces were then more likely to identify a blurry image as a gun than those who were exposed to white faces or no faces.

Eberhardt plans to combine social psychological insights with technology to improve outcomes in the criminal justice context and elsewhere.

“I’m hopeful to bring about real social change,” she said.

Peter Thiel’s Quest for One-of-a-Kind Ideas

If he had it to do over again, Peter Thiel said, “I’d still go to Stanford, I’d probably go to law school.” But, he told a packed audience at Stanford on Monday night, when he was young he was probably too driven by the need for prestige. Now he believes, “There is no wisdom in crowds. There is ferocious competition! This is anti-Malcolm Gladwell.”

Stanford Law School Dean M. Elizabeth Magill and Peter Thiel

Stanford Law School Dean M. Elizabeth Magill chats with Peter Thiel

Thiel came to campus to discuss his belief that every great company is built around a secret, which is one of the key themes from his new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. His visit was sponsored by Stanford Law School and the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES). M. Elizabeth Magill, dean and Richard E. Lang Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, moderated the Q&A session after Thiel spoke.

After he founded PayPal, Thiel made a wise investment in Facebook and startled many with his and $100,000 grants to teens who “stop out” of school, Thiel earned a BA/BS (’89) at Stanford and a JD (’92) from Stanford Law School. It was, he said, “where I feel my whole life began.”

Just a few years later, he found himself at a New York law firm “where everyone on the outside wanted to get inside and everybody on the inside wanted to get outside.” He lasted seven months and three days.

His current focus is to find “one-of-a-kind companies where people are on a mission to do something no one has done before.” Instead of competing against other businesses for market share, he said, “It should be the goal of every company to be a monopoly.” He gave the example of a restaurant in Palo Alto trying to distinguish itself from many competitors by claiming to serve the only British food in town, whereas a monopoly like Google “basically has had no competition in search since 2002.”

Because we’re taught that competition is valuable, it’s a hard habit to break, Thiel said. “Yet when the differences are small, you have to fight much harder to differentiate yourself.” He recalled Henry Kissinger’s description of his fellow faculty members at Harvard: “The battles are ferocious because the stakes are so low.” Sometimes people are so busy fighting to get through a small gate, Thiel noted, they overlook the large door around the corner.

People also get talked out of their ideas before they fully form them, convinced by others that they’re strange or weird. Or they don’t even try to think of something new because they figure that things that haven’t been discovered are too hard to figure out. “If you think there are no secrets to be found, you are not the person who will find them,” Thiel said.

Watch a video of Peter Thiel’s talk at Stanford.

Five Leading Scholars Join Stanford Law School Faculty

STANFORD, Calif., September 24, 2014 – Stanford Law School welcomed five new professors this fall to expand its curriculum in evolving areas of law at the intersection of technology, health policy, psychology, criminology and local government. The new additions bring the school’s total number of core faculty to 60, the highest in the school’s history.

The new faculty members are Michelle Wilde Anderson, a public law scholar and practitioner focused on state and local government; Robert MacCoun, a social psychologist and public policy analyst who has analyzed topics ranging from drug legalization to the military’s “Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; Michelle Mello, an expert in issues related to law, ethics and health policy; Lisa Ouellette, who specializes in intellectual property and patent law; and David Sklansky, an expert in criminal law and procedure and a former federal prosecutor.


“This is an incredible year for Stanford Law School. We welcome five exceptional faculty members, each of whom brings sophisticated knowledge to bear on some of the most pressing issues of our day,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, dean and Richard E. Lang Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. “To a person, they are great teachers and mentors as well. We could not be more pleased to welcome them.”

Local Government Expert

Michelle Wilde Anderson, who has been appointed a professor of law at Stanford Law School (SLS), brings expertise in urban policy and city planning. She has researched legal restructuring options and state oversight tools for cities and counties on the brink of financial collapse, and has written about the local governance of high poverty areas. She comes from Berkeley Law School, where she was an assistant professor of law.

Anderson previously worked as an environmental law fellow at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger and clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She holds a BA from Yale University, an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a JD from Berkeley Law School.

Psychology and Behavioral Science Expertise

Robert MacCoun holds a joint appointment as a professor of law at Stanford Law School and as a senior fellow with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. During two quarters as a visiting professor at SLS in 2012, he said he was impressed by the “intensively interdisciplinary environment, with faculty engaged in empirical social science, the humanities, science and technology, and real-world problem solving.”

MacCoun is a renowned psychologist and behavioral scientist who has studied illicit drug use, drug policy, alternative dispute resolution, judgment and decision making, social influence, and bias in the use and interpretation of research evidence. His analyses of military unit cohesion were cited during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” debates about inclusion of gays and lesbians in the military.

Prior to his faculty appointment at SLS, he was a member of the faculties of Berkeley Law School and the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Before that, he was a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. He earned a BA at Kalamazoo College, and an MA and PhD at Michigan State.

Law and Health Policy Scholar

Michelle Mello, another new professor of law at SLS, holds a joint appointment as a professor of medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine. She is a leading empirical health law scholar who has focused on understanding the effects of law and regulation on health care delivery and population health outcomes. She has written on topics including the medical malpractice system, medical errors and patient safety, research ethics and pharmaceuticals.

Before joining SLS, Mello was a member of the faculty and director of the Program in Law and Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. She also was a key consultant to the National Program Office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s program in Public Health Law Research, studying disclosure and compensation of medical inquiries. She holds a BA from Stanford University; an M.Phil from Oxford University, where she was a Marshall Scholar; a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from Yale Law School. In 2013 she was elected to the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Intellectual Property Expert

Lisa Ouellette has joined the SLS faculty as an assistant professor law specializing in intellectual property (IP) law, with emphasis on the economic effects of U.S. and international patent laws on innovation. Her strong background in physics and law enables her to bring practical experience and scientific expertise to analyses of IP issues, enhancing Stanford Law School’s reputation as a leader in law and technology policy.

Ouellette was a postdoctoral associate in law and a Thomson Reuters Fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School prior to coming to SLS. She previously clerked for Judge John M. Walker, Jr., on the U.S. Court of Appeals and for Judge Timothy D. Dyk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She received a BA in physics from Swarthmore College, a PhD in physics from Cornell University and a JD from Yale Law School.

Criminal Law Expert

New SLS Professor of Law David Sklansky has expertise in criminal law that is grounded in his experience as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, where he specialized in white-collar fraud prosecutions. In that role, he served as special counsel to the independent review panel appointed to investigate the scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division. He has written extensively on topics that include the political science of policing, the regulation of jury deliberations, the application of the Fourth Amendment to surveillance technologies, and the relationship between criminal justice and immigration laws.

Sklansky was a visiting professor at Stanford Law School in 2011. Prior to coming to SLS, he was a member of the Boalt Law faculty and the UCLA School of Law faculty. He won campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Awards at both UCLA and U.C. Berkeley. He also practiced labor law at Bredhoff & Kaiser. He clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. He holds an AB from U.C. Berkeley and a JD from Harvard Law School.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.


Stanford study finds that clean energy is good politics

This story was written by Clifton Parker and was published Sept. 15, 2014 in the online version of the Stanford Report.

Renewable energy seems like good politics on either side of the aisle, according to a new Stanford study that scrutinized how states across America use clean energy.

Dubbed The State Clean Energy Cookbook, the study was created by Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. The project was co-chaired by Stanford’s George P. Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state, and a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Stanford Law School alumnus (JD ’68) who chaired the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and serves as a Distinguished Fellow at Steyer-Taylor.

State Clean Energy ReportOverall, the study analyzes and makes specific recommendations regarding 12 clean energy policies. In short, it’s a roadmap or blueprint for how to approach clean energy now and into the future.

The researchers noted that in the last two years alone, GOP-dominant “red” states have adopted policies that could serve as models for others seeking to meet proposed federal targets for reducing heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

“There’s no blue or red tinge to it. It’s across the board,” said Shultz.

Indeed, the report evokes “an encouraging conclusion” noting, “both red states and blue states are turning green – whether measured in dollar savings or environmental improvement.”

Dan Reicher, executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center, said that Democratic-leaning states are using more green energy for environmental reasons, while more conservative states are following suit to reduce energy costs and to boost the electrical grid’s reliability through the use of various power sources.

He explained that these policies could be particularly valuable as states develop plans to meet pending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations to cut power plant carbon emissions. The study also analyzes the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program, which assists all 50 states.

“Most of the policies we discuss in the report have met several tests. They are already on the books; they are in operation in both blue and red states; they enjoy good support; and, implemented well, they can be cost-effective,” Reicher said.

For example, North Carolina is a solar power innovator. It ranked third among states, after California and Arizona, for solar capacity installed last year, according to the report. One of its largest utilities got the state’s go-ahead to offer green power – produced in and out of the state – to commercial customers that run energy-hungry data centers.

Then there’s Colorado, considered a “purplish” state, or moderate, politically speaking. It was the first state to allow community solar gardens, whereby people who don’t have rooftops viable for solar panels can join others on projects that will produce grid-connected power. California and Minnesota have recently adopted similar programs.

The report describes states as the “laboratories of democracy” when it comes to energy efficiency for adopting innovative programs and policies that could be beneficial for the future.

It illuminates, as Shultz put it, “what works and what doesn’t.”