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In what ways can law support efforts  of preventing, mitigating and preparing for disaster losses around the world? What role does law play in the governing of humanitarian aid? To what extent can law ensure the existence of clear legal mandates to conduct risk assessments and issue timely warnings? These are just some of the questions Dr Marie Aronsson-Storrier, Director of Global Law LLM Programmes addresses in her teaching.

The number, intensity, and impact of  diverse forms of crises, emergencies, conflicts and disasters are increasing. During the past ten years alone, more than a billion people have been affected by some form of disaster, complex or  conflict-related event. Marie undertakes the key task of examining the role of global law and policy  in preventing and mitigating disaster risk  and losses. 

Her work reflects current and changing global initiatives and priorities including the relationship between different legal regimes; the role law does and should have in responding to crises, conflicts, or disasters; and how law can be informed by, and inform non-legal disciplines. 

Research that feeds into teaching

Her current research and teaching explores the role of (international) law in creating and addressing disaster risk, including questions around vulnerability and natural, human-made, and biological hazards, as well as the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised persons in law and decision-making processes.

Marie finds her students are attracted to her modules for a variety of reasons. 

“Some are more interested in focusing on displaced persons and refugees, while others are more focused on the delivery of humanitarian aid in disasters or conflicts. While some students are interested in the subject in a more conceptual way and are interested in continuing onto a PhD – some are simply drawn because the subject matter excites them.

In general, I have found that our students are driven by a sense of wanting to do good, and a desire to help address these gigantic global challenges. This creates a really interesting atmosphere in the classroom."

 

Throughout their study, students are constantly reminded of how important it is not only to engage with a broad range of legal regimes, but also to improve interdisciplinary communication.

 

In addition to the possibility for students to take some modules from other Schools, the modules offered by the School of Law benefit from the input of experts from across the University. For example, Ros Cornforth, Director of the Walker Institute at the university, has also contributed to one of the modules. The overarching aim of the Walker Institute is to use research to enable the development of climate-resilient societies, which are able to adapt in an uncertain, changing world.

Global Law programmes at Reading thoughtfully combine both theoretical perspectives and real world scenarios to prepare lawyers and non-lawyers alike. They are positioned to pursue academic excellence in the foundation of governance and law, and to provide a solid grounding in the practitioner skills required at strategic and operational levels. 

What Marie most loves about the programmes is the multi-disciplinary approach of bringing together different areas of law and different areas of study.

“Law is just one tool. We need to look at the challenges from other perspectives as well to get a really comprehensive view. This is what I think really sets the programmes apart and it makes it so interesting for our research projects.

Rather than focusing on isolated legal regimes, we are looking at the contemporary challenges and thinking what can be done about them across scales and across disciplines."

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Amanda Milmore: Hard work, persistence and practice

Learning the skills to succeed as a lawyer.

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Dr Ruvi Ziegler: refugees as political beings

Defending the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

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Dr Andrea Miglionico: secured transactions

Bridging law and business.