Cambridge University Land Society Magazine 2021

Page 126


The Department of

Land Economy

Professor David Howarth Head of the Department of Land Economy


he Department of Land Economy operated virtually and remotely for the whole of the last academic year, including holding online exams for a second time in 2021. As the new term starts we have been able to reopen part of the Silver Street premises for those who prefer to work in an office, but large lectures remain online for the time being. It’s going to be a gradual return, and, I suspect, as in most organisations, things are never going to be fully the way they were before. The Department won another Platinum Award from the Cambridge Green Challenge this year, which was largely in recognition of the way we adapted to the pandemic, and I can envisage that many of the new ways of working, many of which are much greener than the old ways, will stick.



I can report two important changes in the Department’s academic staff. We welcome Dr Emily Webster, who starts this term as our new lecturer in Environmental Law. Emily is taking over for five years from Emma Lees, who has a professorship for that period at the European University Institute in Fiesole. Emily comes to us from Hughes Hall where she has been a Research Associate in Climate Law and Governance at the Hughes Hall Centre for Climate Engagement. Her work concentrates on the interaction between environmental law and policy, especially about climate change, and company law. With growing interest in the policy and commercial worlds about ESG (especially ‘E’) this is a field in which the Department is eager to expand. But we also say goodbye to Kanak Patel, who has retired after many years of service to the department. We wish her every good wish for the future! Our research continues to go from strength to strength. Important work is appearing in the academic journals and in books on topics as diverse as pricing climate risk in residential property, the emergence of walled communities in Ghana, blockchain contracts as governance tools, preventing homelessness in the UK, the geography of populist discontent and the constitutional implications of the Brexit debates in 2017-19. And previous work continues to have impact on the real world. We were especially struck by the influence of our Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance’s work on the arguments that led to a stunning defeat in the Dutch courts for Shell on its climate change impact. Members of the Department also continued to be appointed to important editorial boards and professional academic associations, not only in the UK but around the world. And we regularly appear before parliamentary committees and write or are written about in the media – from the FT (especially our Centre for Housing and Planning Research) to the Daily Mail (myself, I have to confess). The Department has proved itself to be extraordinarily resilient and productive in the past eighteen months. Let us all hope that we can keep that going in the coming ‘period of adjustment’.

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