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Honouring a Life’s Work

Posted by Amanda Kirby-Sheppard on November 27, 2023 in News, Marine & Environmental Law Institute
Professor Meinhard Doelle (1964‑2022)
Professor Meinhard Doelle (1964‑2022)

On Thursday, November 23, 2023, former colleagues, friends, and family of Schulich Law Professor Dr. Meinhard Doelle (LLB ’89, JSD ’05), including his wife Wendy Jardine and daughter Alida, gathered together with Dalhousie students to honour his memory and life’s work at the inaugural lecture created in his name.

Doelle was a member of the faculty of the Schulich School of Law and Marine & Environmental Law Institute (MELAW) from 2003 to 2022. His contributions to Canadian and international environmental law and policy, and to mentoring the next generation, were extensive and influential. His research spanned topics including climate change, energy law, invasive species, environmental assessment, decarbonization of shipping, and public participation in environmental decision-making. He taught at both the law school and the College of Sustainability.

The Meinhard Doelle Legacy Lecture was co-hosted by MELAW and the College of Sustainability as part of the College’s Environment, Sustainability and Society lecture series. The lecture aims to inspire the next generation of Dalhousie students, whether in law or sustainability, to learn more about the possibilities of environmental law for contributing solutions to local, national, and global sustainability challenges facing people and the planet.

The inaugural lecture, titled, “Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of Environmental Law for Sustainability,’ was inspired by the diverse collaborations that the speakers had with Doelle over the years, all aimed at tackling local and global environmental problems by offering and evaluating legal solutions.

The panel was moderated by Professor Steve Mannell from the College of Sustainability, and featured three panellists: William Lahey, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of King's College; Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director and Senior Lawyer, East Coast Environmental Law; and Sara L. Seck, Yogis & Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law and Director of the Marine & Environmental Law Institute.

From left: William Lahey, Lisa Mitchell, Sara L. Seck, Steve Mannell (Photo credit: Devdatta Mukherjee)

Professor Seck began by reading welcome remarks from the Schulich School of Law Dean Sarah Harding. She then recalled Doelle’s extensive expertise and the phenomenal range of contributions he made to the discipline and to the law school, before sharing a video of the late professor, speaking on his approach to teaching environmental law.

The three panellists, who all collaborated with Doelle at various points in his career, noted the role he had played in influencing environmental legislation and policy in Nova Scotia and across Canada, and in shaping the discourses on environmental impact assessment, energy efficiency, and loss and damage from climate change. They also recalled fondly how well he could relate to people, how he mentored numerous students over the years, and how he was a reliable and trusted advisor to many.

Lahey specifically drew attention to the work that he and Doelle undertook together, including a report on aquaculture regulation and the design of novel environmental legislation that set targets for government actors.

Mitchell recalled Doelle’s role in the founding of East Coast Environmental Law, a local environmental law NGO with close ties to MELAW that provides public environmental legal education.

The event concluded by illustrating how Doelle’s legacy continues to enrich the lives of many, and how the teaching materials, edited collections and reports he had developed, and the lasting collaborations he had forged, will live on.

“Meinhard served as both Associate Director and Director of MELAW during his time at Dalhousie, and inspired many as a colleague, teacher, mentor and collaborator,” says Seck. “We hope this annual legacy lecture will provide an opportunity to inspire the next generation to continue the quest for sustainability solutions through environmental law.”