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Law professor receives Fulbright to research international agricultural reform

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

KU Law Professor John Head

LAWRENCE – For the third time in his career, KU Law Professor John Head has received a Fulbright fellowship from the U.S. Department of State. 

As the 2016 Fulbright Research Chair in Global Governance, Head is spending the fall term in Waterloo, Ontario, extending his research and writing in the area of international law and agricultural reform. The one-semester fellowship is hosted by the Balsillie School of International Affairs, an institute that supports research in international public policy and shares faculty and facilities with the Centre for International Governance Innovation. 

Head’s project, “Sovereignty, Global Governance, and Agro-Ecological Integrity: Building an International Legal and Institutional Public-Trust Framework to Reform Agriculture,” builds on a recently completed book to be published later this year by Routledge Press.

“That book focuses on legal reforms at the national and international levels that would facilitate a transition to a new form of ‘natural-systems’ agriculture,” said Head, the Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor. “This next project shifts the focus to the institutional reforms that I envision for that same purpose.”

Head’s research aims to examine and contribute to efforts at reforming global agriculture in ways that will help address crises in the areas of climate change, ecological degradation, and food insecurity.  Reflecting his international-law specialization, his work will give special emphasis to concepts of sovereignty, global governance, and the public trust doctrine. In exploring institutional issues at the global level, Head will draw from his experience with global economic institutions. Before joining the KU Law faculty in 1990, Head worked in private legal practice and served as legal counsel for both the Asian Development Bank (Manila, 1983-1988) and the International Monetary Fund (Washington, 1988-1990).

Head’s first Fulbright award, a 1994 teaching fellowship in China, took him and his family to Beijing. In the spring of 2009, he served as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Comparative Law at the University of Trento in northern Italy.

Head said his latest Fulbright provides a unique opportunity.

“It puts me in direct contact with people and programs that are really central to designing systems to address global issues such as climate change, environmental protection more generally, sustainable food production, and international cooperation,” he said.

Head has practiced and taught law in several countries in Europe and Asia and has served as the Paul Hastings Visiting Professor at the University of Hong Kong. His scholarly books and articles focus mainly on international and comparative law, with emphasis on the legal aspects of international business, international environmental protection, and international economic relations. He has also authored several books on Chinese law.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.