Earth Laws scholarship seeks to redefine the relationship between human beings and the non-human biosphere by abandoning the anthropocentrism of much contemporary theory and practice in favour of eco-centric perspectives. This shift in consciousness is seen as necessary to avoid approaches to the environment which regard nature as a 'resource' to be exploited for human gratification, which have contributed to a decline in the health and integrity of the ecosystems upon which the entire community of life depends.
While embracing the connection between Earth justice and social justice, Earth Laws scholarship aims to develop a new philosophy of legal thinking but also has a pragmatic agenda to help shape the way we use law to protect the environment. Earth Laws scholarship is predicated on the idea that human interventions, including legal and political systems, should support, rather than undermine, the integrity and health of the earth. Consequently, Earth Laws scholarship develops as an interdisciplinary field, encompassing law, philosophy and the human and natural sciences.
The activities of the Earth Laws Network are concerned to engender the development of the following values:
- The recognition that we are all members of the complex and diverse community of life and that we have a moral obligation to defend and strengthen the integrity of this community for the sake of all the current and future members of that community.
- To advance laws, governance and ecological practices that reflect humans' interdependent relationship with the natural world, premised on the concept that humanity has a foundational responsibility to care for and protect the long term health and well-being of the whole ecological community.
- To develop a philosophy that respects the natural world in its own right and recognises humans as part of the ecological community.
- An urgent need to improve human understanding of our relationships with ecological communities and to seek to live as responsible citizens of these communities by meeting human needs in ways that contribute to the wellbeing of the ecological community as a whole.
- The need to respect, protect and extend legal and ethical consideration to all human and nonhuman members of the ecological community, including the interests of future generations.
- An awareness of the need for urgent action. In the words of the Earth Charter: 'We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future … To move forward we must recognise that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.'
Its activities are informed by the following key principles:
- Capacity building - people's knowledge, skills, resources, and practices are to be applied in ways that realise the Network's values.
- Inclusiveness - we seek to collaborate with multiple disciplines and cultural perspectives.
- Participation - we seek to collaborate with local, national and international communities as well as other academic networks.
- Evidence generation and knowledge production - we employ high quality methods of scholarly evaluation and analysis that will establish the Network as a place of intellectual rigor and excellence.