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Information Environmentalism: a Governance Framework for Intellectual Property Rights

Date: 4 April 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Robert Cunningham, Assistant Professor Faculty of Law, Univeristy of Western Australia

Information environmentalism is a normative discourse that seeks to protect and nurture the information commons. The information commons is important within the information age because it provides critical raw material for creativity and innovation. An outstanding challenge when protecting and nurturing the information commons is defining its parameters. Something cannot be protected until it is clearly delineated. Yet delineation alone is not enough. For this reason, the book seeks to build an information environmental governance framework. This framework can be relied upon when seeking to protect and nurture the information environment (generally) and the information commons (specifically). The framework is built upon four discrete theoretical foundations of environmentalism: (i) welfareeconomics; (ii) the commons; (iii) ecology; and (iv) public choice theory. In building an information environmental governance framework, the costs of propertising information and the benefits of the information
commons are underscored. Several innovative governance tools are also advanced, including an information environmental discipline (information ecology), an information environmental ethic, Information Commons Rights, informational national parks and the separation of (economic) power doctrine.

Throughout his professional career, Robert has engaged with the law in his capacity as both legal practitioner and academic. As a legal practitioner his efforts have largely concentrated on the provision of legal information, court advocacy and education within the Community Legal Centre sector. In academia his pursuits have primarily focused on the manner in which the law interfaces with sustainability, corporate accountability, international trade, and intellectual property rights. He is currently engaging in a book concerning the intersection between theories of environmentalism and intellectual property rights to be published by Edward Elgar later this year. Along with a PhD from the Australian National University, Robert holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting), Bachelor of Laws (Hons), Master of Laws (Hons), and a Graduate Certificate of Legal Practice from the University of Technology Sydney. He presently lectures in Intellectual Property: Creative Rights, and is Unit Coordinator of Corporations Law, International Trade Law and Corporate Finance & Securities Regulation within the UWA Faculty of Law.

Evolution of Human Communities: A Primatologist’s Perspective

Date: 11 April 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Cyril Grueter

One of the universal features of human sociality is the fact that our social networks are highly integrated: human societies exhibit several nested social layers including families, bands and communities. Several factors have been identified as creating disincentives for hostile intergroup relations, including economic interdependence, intermarriage and cooperative defence against external adversaries. I will explore the emergence of amicable relations between human communities and identify precursors in non-human primate societies. 

Cyril Grueter completed his PhD degree in biological anthropology in 2009 at the University of Zurich/Switzerland, which was supervised by Prof. Carel van Schaik. Grueter research was aimed at understanding the evolutionary determinants of multilevel societies in primates and included 20 months of observations on wild snub-nosed monkeys in China, complemented with comparative cross-species analyses. Subsequently he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig/Germany and conducted a field study on the feeding ecology and feeding competition in mountain gorillas in Rwanda between 2009 and 2010 in collaboration with the Karisoke Research Center. In 2012, Grueter took up an Assistant Professor position at the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia.