My life and work is increasingly informed by my own research which spans philosophy, law, sociology, anthropology and the human sciences
In October 2019 I commenced research at Southern Cross University under the supervision of Professor John Page (now Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Canterbury, NZ and Adjunct Professor at SCU)and Dr Evgeny Guglyuvatyy. I was confirmed as a full PhD candidate within the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts in April 2021, and expect to submit a thesis in 2024.
I returned to SCU for doctoral studies because of its ongoing and demonstrated commitment to interdisciplinary and socially relevant research and teaching in law and justice studies. With a growing reputation particularly in the field of ecological jurisprudence, the law offering was also increasingly strong in the related field of property law theory under the principal guidance of Professor Page. With Professor Page assuming a subject-matter expert supervisory role in his capacity as Adjunct Professor at SCU, Associate Professor Michael Charles joined my supervisory team in 2022. With a scholarly background in ancient history, Associate Professor Charles will contribute his expertise most particularly in the area of epistemology, especially as it relates to the anthropological and historical aspects of my work.
A key motivation for engaging in research is my own interest in understanding the role that property, and property law, plays in modern human life and its connection to human behaviour, health and wellbeing at both an individual and societal level. My research spans the fields of law, palaeoanthropology, economics, behavioural biology and neuroscience. An important aim of my research is to identify the positive health and wellbeing outcomes of property and to demonstrate how property law could be used to facilitate those outcomes.
From July 2021 I expect to commit up to two days per week to my research and this will limit my availability to service new legal work. I do not accept instructions to act in urgent legal matters nor, usually, matters involving formal proceedings (e.g. court/tribunal work). Existing clients are encouraged to discuss any particular timing requirements with me before confirming any new engagement.
This research concerns the nature of property and its role in modern human society. Proceeding on the basis that property is at the core of society and impacts how it operates socially, politically, and economically, and recognising the necessary connections between human society and the individuals that together form it, this research seeks to contribute to the discourse concerning property relationships, the kernel of which is posited to be the human-thing relationship. The genesis, nature, and importance of the human-thing relationship to development of personhood is explored, so to its impact on human behaviours. This knowledge will be used to consider the extent to which the human-thing relationship could be used to generate positive change. Property law, the sometimes-called ‘law of things’, is considered as an agent for change. Intended as ‘prefigurative theory’, this research considers historical and current property law regimes, with a particular reference to property in land, and will seek to identify the changes to property law that might create the space required for positive behavioural change. Property law provides as yet unrealised opportunities for a better world. This research identifies some of those opportunities and offers new ideas as to how they might be achieved.