Property Law: Keeping it Real while studying Virtual Worlds

This week’s hosts Rebecca Hardin and Chris Askew-Merwin explore notions of property and ownership on Earth, in virtual  reality like games, and in Space–literally beyond he boundaries of planet earth.  Our guide through this journey is Professor Wian Erlank, an expert on property law from North-West University, located in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Vian likes to puzzle over questions like: Do we own our virtual goods such as ebooks or mp3? Is that property certificate for a piece of the moon legitimate? 

Professor Erlank joins us while on a break from the 8th Annual Meeting of the Association for Law, Property & Society. This conference brought together people from many disciplines and from around the world to encourage dialogue on issues of property law ranging from affordable housing to water rights and large scale land transactions. Conference attendees (pictured above) visited Detroit’s urban farms and community revitalization projects to get a glimpse of property in practice, and to confer with local leaders on the ways they are confronting the challenge of property rights in their work.  For more information on the conference click here.


Energy and Environmental Policy Research: a Student Symposium

On this episode of It’s Hot in Here, host Chris Askew-Merwin sits down with University of Michigan undergraduate Benjamin Sonnega to discuss the research that he and his classmates have been doing over the last semester for a new course called Environ 302: Energy and Environmental Policy Research taught by Dr. Sarah Mills.  The class had students pick topics that interested them from plastic bag policies, food policies, to net metering and taught them the research skills necessary to study those issues. These research projects culminated in a fantastic student symposium on Wednesday, April 26, where each student was given time to present their findings.

Ben and I talk about his dive into residential energy tax credits and who is actually using them. He accessed and analyzed an IRS dataset come to his conclusions. Then we listen to recordings of his classmates presenting their research and discuss the course in greater detail. If you want to know how U of M is teaching the next generation of policy analysts, then you don’t want to miss this show.

Ethics and Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

In this week’s episode of It’s Hot in Here, host Chris Askew-Merwin is joined in studio by two esteemed guests to explore the fashion industry’s impacts on the environment and on the workers who manufacture the apparel and shoes we all consume.

Dr. Linda Greer is a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council and the Interim Director of the University of Michigan Biological Station. In 2009 she launched the NRDC’s Clean by Design program to address the environmental impacts of the fashion industry.

Our second guest, Dr. Damani Partridge is a professor at the University of Michigan in the Departments of Anthropology and Afroamerican & African Studies. Dr. Partridge has recently been researching how new corporate ethics such as fair trade are changing the relationships between corporations, consumers, and the workers along the global corporate supply chains. To read his article on this topic click here.

Fashion is a multi-trillion dollar industry with over one trillion dollars spent per year around the globe on clothes and footwear. Of that trillion, $370 billion is from the United States alone. Such a huge industry has to have an enormous environmental footprint. Add to that the terrible working conditions that plague the industry, and fashion becomes a major problem that needs solving.

Tune in to listen to the experts on how the fashion industry can be influenced. Should we vote, vote with our wallets, or protest in the streets? Short answer, all of the above. For the long answer, check out the show.