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Dr Peter Burdon

Telephone +61 8 8313 4446
Position Senior Lecturer
Fax +61 8 8313 4344
Building Ligertwood Building
Floor/Room 2 04
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit Law School

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Biography/ Background

I am a Senior Lecturer at the Adelaide Law School and deputy chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Ethics Specialist Group. I hold a BA (History/Philosophy), LLB (hons) and a PhD from the University of Adelaide. My PhD won the Bonython Prize & the University Research Medal for best original thesis. As well as publishing in academic outlets I also feel a strong responsability to contribute to public debate and make my ideas availalbe in forums like ABC Environment, The Drum, New Matilda, Eureka St, Arena Magazine, Independant Australia and various state and national newspapers.

Since 2005 I have worked with Friends of the Earth Adelaide in the Clean Futures Collective. In this role I have engaged in community advocacy, developed submissions in response to mining projects in South Australia, acted as media spokesperson, organised working trips to aboriginal communities in northern South Australia and organised significant public conferences. I was a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and I currently sit on the management committee of the Australian Earth Law Alliance. From 2007-2011 I sat on the executive committee of the Conservation Council South Australia and from 2011-2013 I sat on the management committee of the Environmental Defenders Office (SA).  I am a National Tertiary Education Union delegate for the law school. 

I live on the Adelaide plains with my beautiful wife, dancing daughter and dare-devil boy.


PhD University of Adelaide, 2011

LLB (hons) University of Adelaide, 2007

BA (history/philosophy) University of Adelaide, 2003

Awards & Achievements

Visiting Scholar at the University of California Berkeley, Center for Law and Society, 2014.

Citation, Early Career Award, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, 2013.

University Doctoral Research Medal, 2012.

Bonython Prize for the Best Orginal Postgraduate Thesis, 2012.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Professions Prize for Excellence in Teaching, 2011 (with Paul Babie and Paul Leadbeter).

FA & MF Joyner Scholarship in Law, 2008-2011.

Teaching Interests

My teaching style has been particulalry influenced by the educational writings of John Dewey, Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Mary Heath and Stephen Brookfield. I seek to create an educational space that is inclusive, democratic and which encourages critical thinking.

I teach the following courses:

LAW 1501 - Foundations of Australian Law

LAW 1506 - Property Law

LAW 2561 - The Politics of Law

Legal Theory: Special Topic (Eichmann in Jerusalem)

Research Interests

Current Research

The main focus of my reserach is the enviornmental crisis and how human society might transition their laws, governance structures and social relations so that they support (rather than undermine) the health and integrity of the planet. To this end I am writing on the Project of Earth Democracy and investigating past prefigurative political movements directed at broad social transformation. Further to this work, I am also writing on the corporitisation of university education and how academic staff might become empowered to realise value-reflective educational and research goals. My research uses interdisciplinary materials from sociology, political science, economics, philosophy, jurisprudence, history and environmental studies. 


Research Supervision

James Stewart (LLM), "Critical Legal Studies in a Conservative Age". Jointly with Paul Babie

Kim Pedler (LLM), "Earth Jurisprudence and our Duty of Care". Jointly with Alex Wawryk

Claire Williams (PhD), "The Future of Earth Jurisprudence: Science and Law". Jointly with Caecilia Ewenz.

Katherine Russell (PhD), "Critical Animal Studies". Jointly with Ngaire Naffine.

Ben Mylius (hons dissertation), "Earth Jurisprudence and the Limits of Knowledge". Jointly with Paul Babie. Completed

David Moon (hons dissertation), "Science and Legal Development". Completed

Katherine Ruseell (hons dissertation), "Animal Rights and the Law". Completed


Books (sole author)

Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment (Routledge Press, forthcoming 2014). 


Books (edited)

Wild Law: In Practice (Routledge Press, 2014) w Michelle Maloney

Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence (Wakefield Press, 2011).

  • Click here to view extract
  • Click here for an interview about the book on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams


Chapters in Books

'Realising Earth Democracy: Governance from Below' in Laura Westra and Mirian Vilela (eds), The Earth Charter, Ecological Integrity and Social Movements (Routledge, 2014) forthcoming.

'Environmental Human Rights: A Constructive Critique' in Anna Grear & Louis Kotz (eds), Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment (Edward Elgar, 2014) forthcoming.

'Wild Law and the Project of Earth Democracy' in Wild Law: In Practice (Routledge Press, 2014)

‘The Project of Earth Democracy’ in Laura Westra, Prue Taylor & Agnes Michelot (eds), Confronting Collapse: What Agencies, Institutions and Strategies Are Needed for a Better World? How to Achieve Environmental Justice? (Routledge, 2013) 244.

'The Great Law' in Peter Burdon (ed), Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence (Wakefield Press, 2011).

  • 'The Great Law' republished with permission in (2011) 15 Southern Cross University Law Review 1 (Special edition from 'Keeping the Fire: Australia's Second Conference on Wild Law'). 

'The Ecozoic Era' in Peter Burdon (ed), Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence (Wakefield Press, 2011).




'Academic Resistance to the Neoliberal University' (2013) Legal Education Review (23)(2) 379 w Mary Heath.

'Critical Thinking in Legal Education: Our Journey' (2013) Legal Education Review (23)(2) 345 w Gabrielle Appleby & Alexander Reilly.

Self, Community and Ecological Jurisprudence’ (2013) 3(5) Oñati Socio-Legal Series.

'Review Essay: Property Rights and Sustainability' (2013) Adelaide Law Review 34.

'A Theory of Earth Jurisprudence' (2012) Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 28.

'The Future of a River: Earth Jurisprudence and the Murray Darling Basin'  (2012) 37(2) Alternative Law Journal 82.

'Earth jurisprudence: Private Property and Earth Community' (2011) 144 (3&4) Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 109.

The Jurisprudence of Thomas Berry’ (2011) 11 Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology 151.

'Earth Rights: The Theory' (2011) 1 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law E-Journal

What is Good Land Use? From Rights to Responsibilities’ (2010) 34(3) Melbourne University Law Review 708.

Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence’ (2010) 35(2) Alternative Law Journal 62.

The Rights of Nature: Reconsidered’ (2010) 49 Australian Humanities Review 69.


non refereed

'Climate change: the situation is hopeless...let's take the next step', ABC Environment, 24 March 2014 

'Population is not the Problem', ABC Environment, 22 January 2014

'How Conservative is Cory?' Independant Australia, 16 January 2014

  • A version of this article can also be viewed on InDaily 

'Don't Leave it to Politicians to Change the World' ABC The Drum, 1 January 2014

'Environmental Legal Aid Cuts an 'Act of Barbarism' ABC Environment, 18 December 2013

'Environmental Protection and the Limits of Rights Talk' Right Now 10 August 2012.

'Peaceful Dissent and a Lizard's Revenge' ABC Environment, 10 July 2012.

'Citizens United and the Crisis of Democracy' Adelaide Law School, Public Law Blog, 5 July 2012.

Interview in Greg Foyster 'Should Nature Have Rights?', G-Magazine, October/November 2011. 

'Rights of Nature in the Kimberley', Kimberley Calling, 1 September 2011.

'What if Trees Could Sue?', ABC Environment, 17 May 2011.

'Conversations -1: When Gaia Hires a Lawyer' 13(2) Greenspirit (2011) 14

‘Private Property and Agrarianism’, Chain Reaction Magazine, 13 May 2010.  

‘Thomas Berry and a New Jurisprudence’ Earthsong, 12 December 2009.

Wild LawArena Magazine, April 2009.  

Towards an Earth-Friendly Legal System’ 2009 19(12) Eureka St 3.

‘Earth Jurisprudence’ Chain Reaction Magazine, 1 August 2009.

‘Native Title and the Clash of Civilization’ Chain Reaction Magazine, 1 December 2008.

‘Trial Uranium Mining in South Australia’ Chain Reaction Magazine, 14 September 2008.

‘Above the law? The Roxby Downs Indenture Ratification Act 1982 (SA)’ Chain Reaction Magazine, 1 May 2006.

‘Reforming Native Title’ Friends of the Earth Magazine, 25 August 2007. 


Public Lectures, Conference and Seminar Presentations

'Earth Jurisprudence and Civil Disobedience' (Paper presented at 'New Thinking on Sustainability', Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, 16 February 2014)

'What Can Past Prefigurative Political Movements Teach Us About Legal Change' (Paper presented at 'New Thinking on Sustainability', Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, 16 February 2014)

'Earth Democracy and Strategies for Change' (Paper presented at 'Wild Law 2013: Living Within our Ecological Limits: Law and Governance to Nurture the Earth Community', Griffith University, Brisbane, 31 September 2013)

'Environmental Human Rights: A Constructive Critique' (Paper presented at 'Environmental Human Rights: A Way Forward' (University of Peace, Costa Rica, 1 July 2013)

'Realising Earth Democracy: Governance From Below' (Paper presented at 'Ecological Integrity, Globalization and Radical Social Change: From the UN, to the Earth Charter; from the World Social Forum to the Rights of Mother Earth and Beyond', University of Peace, Costa Rica, 30 June 2013)

‘Disconnection and Entitlement: Water, Law and the Murray Darling Basin’ (Paper presented at the Materialities: Economies, Empiricism, & Things, University of Sydney, 4 December 2012)

‘An Introduction to Wild Law’ (Paper presented for the Australian Wild Law Alliance, Adelaide, 30 November, 2012) 

‘An Introduction to Wild Law’ (Paper presented for the Australian Wild Law Alliance, Melbourne, 17 August, 2012)

'The Rights of Nature and Environmental Activism’ (Paper presented for the Australian Wild Law Alliance, Melbourne, 17 August, 2012)

‘The Project of Earth Democracy’ (Paper presented at ‘Celebrating 20 Years of the Global Ecological Integrity Group’, University of La Rochelle, France, 21 June 2012) Invited

‘Self, Community and Ecological Jurisprudence’ (Paper presented at 'Human Rights and the Environment: In Search of a New Relationship', Onati, Spain, 15 June 2012) Invited

'Ecocentric Law' (Paper Presented at Progressive Law Network: Legal (r)evolution, Melbourne, 16 March 2012). Invited


'The Future of Environmental Law' (Paper Presented to Eco-Action, Kingscote, 2 January 2012) Invited.

'Earth Jurisprudence' (Paper Presented at The Future of Environmental Law, Sydney, 25 November 2011) Invited.

'Whose Planet is it Anyway?' (Paper presented at Earth Station Festival: The Planet Talks, Belair National Park, 22 October 2011) Invited.

'Toward an Ecocentric Theory of Private Property' (Paper presented at Earth Jurisprudence: Building Theory and Practice, Griffith University, 17 September 2011) Invited. 

'Introduction to Wild Law' (Paper presented at Earth Jurisprudence: Building Theory and Practice, Griffith University, 16 September 2011) Invited. 

'Activist Legal Rights' (Paper presented at the Adelaide Activist Skill-share, Adelaide, 4 September 2011) Invited (w Greg Ogle).

'The Rights of Nature: Reconsidered' (Paper presented at the Adelaide Law School, Adelaide, 19 November 2010). 

‘Rights of Nature: Practical Developments’ (Paper presented at Environmental Defenders Office, Annual General Meeting, 26 October 2010) invited.

‘An Introduction to Wild Law’ (Paper presented at Flinders University Staff Seminar, Adelaide, 25 April 2010).

'An Introduction to Bioregionalism and Bioregional Mapping' (Paper Presented at the Nature Awareness School, Box Factory Community Centre, 30 October 2010) Invited (w Joel Catchlove).

'The Intersection Between Ecology and Law' (Paper presented at Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales sede, Quito, Ecuador, 6 September 2010) invited.

‘Wild Law in Australia and Environmental Jurisprudence’ (Paper presented at University of Wollongong, Wild Law and Legal Epistemologies, Wollongong, 26 July 2010) invited.

'Wild Law: An invitation to Environmental Jurisprudence’ (Paper presented at University of New South Wales, Australasian Philosophy Association, 8 July 2010) refereed.

‘Wild Law and the Authority of Law’ (Paper presented at Flinders University, Students of Sustainability, Adelaide, 5 July 2010) invited.

Wild Law and Biodiversity’ (Paper presented at Biodiversity & the Law: Building Blocks for Life, Adelaide, 3 May 2010) invited.

‘What is Good Land Use? From Rights to Obligations’ (Paper presented at From Plains to Plate, the Future of Food in South Australia, Adelaide, 12 February 2010) refereed.

‘Thomas Berry and a New Jurisprudence’ (Paper presented at Parliament of World Religions, Melbourne, 7 December 2009) refereed.   

‘Water and the Roxby Downs Indenture Act’ (Paper presented at Water Summit, Parliament House, Adelaide, 3 October 2009) invited.

‘Water Rights and Water Wrongs’ (Paper presented at World Water Day Conference, Adelaide, 7 March 2009) invited.

‘Whiteness, Law and Community Engagement’ (Paper presented at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Academy of DIY, Adelaide, Adelaide, 16 March 2008) invited.

‘Native Title and the Clash of Civilisations’ (Paper Presented at Law Without Borders, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2 May 2008) refereed.


Community Engagement

Ethics Specialist Group, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2012-present

Delegate, National Tertiary Education Union, 2012-present

Executive Committee, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, 2011-2012

Management Committee, Environmental Defenders Office (SA), 2010-2013

Executive Committee, Conservation Council South Australia, 2007-2011

Management Committee, Friends of the Earth Adelaide, 2005-2011



Expertise for Media Contact

CategoriesEnvironment, Law, Crime & Justice
ExpertiseEnvironmental Law, Mining Law, Aboriginal Legal Issues

Entry last updated: Sunday, 20 Apr 2014

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