Research Agenda


The Law, Governance & Society Lab supports and carries out research that focuses on legal and policy solutions to complex environmental and social problems that cut across multiple fields and levels of governance. The domains that recur in the Lab's work include sustainable development, transnational law, public policy, environmental law and governance, climate change, human rights, disability, social innovation, and socio-legal research.

The Lab's work is eclectic and embraces doctrinal, theoretical, and empirical approaches to the study of law and public policy. Much of the Lab’s research is influenced by new legal realism, particularly its interest in understanding how law relates to society, identifying opportunities for social change in and around the law, and using empirical research for doing so. To this end, the Lab’s research is frequently interdisciplinary, drawing on theories and methods from the social sciences (primarily political science, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology) to account for the emergence, evolution, and influence of laws, policies, and institutions in a variety of settings.

The Lab’s research is currently organized around three principal axes: (1) transnational legal and policy processes; (2) rights, governance, and sustainability; and (3) Canadian climate law and policy.

Transnational Legal & Policy Processes

This research axis addresses the changing character and influence of law and policy in the context of the intensification of political, social, and commercial globalization, the multiplication of international, regional, and bilateral forms of governance, and the emergence of private and hybrid regulatory arrangements. Its primary focus lies in explaining how legal norms and public policies are developed, interpreted, and applied through complex processes that transcend the traditional territorial boundaries of sovereign states. One line of inquiry focuses on the nature of transnational legal processes in the field of climate change and their influence on legal and social change across sites of authority at the global, regional, transnational, domestic, and local levels. Another line of inquiry focuses on how and to what extent different pathways in complex governance arrangements, such as international rules, norms, markets, funding, and knowledge, may influence the development and implementation of environmental policies at the domestic level.

Selected Publications

Sébastien Jodoin, Forest Preservation in a Changing Climate: REDD+ and Indigenous and Community Rights in Indonesia and Tanzania (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017)  (open-access electronic version available here) (link to publisher's website).

Sébastien Jodoin, “The Transnational Policy Process for REDD+ and Domestic Policy Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries” (2017) Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, Special Issue on Climate Governance: Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship (link to article on journal's website).

Sébastien Jodoin & Sarah Mason-Case, “What Difference Does CBDR Make? A Socio-Legal Analysis of the Role of Differentiation in the Transnational Legal Process for REDD+” (2016) 5(2) Transnational Environmental Law 255-28 (link to article on journal's website).

Research Grants

Principal Investigator. “Transnational Pathways to Environmental Governance Reform in Developing Countries: Lessons Learned from the Implementation of REDD+.” –  $37,081 – Fonds québécois de recherche société et culture, Start-Up Programme for New Professors (2016-2019).

Principal Investigator. “The Transnational Legal Process for REDD+ and Indigenous and Community Rights”  –  $220,000 – Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship and Post-Doctoral Dissemination Grant (2011-2015).

Rights, Governance & Sustainability

This research axis focuses on the intersections between various public and private rights (including human rights, participatory rights, property rights, and resource rights) and the governance of sustainability. A current line of inquiry considers the role that human rights principles and obligations can play in shaping the design and implementation of mechanisms, measures, and initiatives and in the fields of climate change and forest governance. Another line of inquiry investigates the socio-legal processes through which climate activists, lawyers, and policy-makers have invoked human rights norms and arguments to raise awareness of the adverse consequences of climate change in the lives of affected individuals and to spur public and private actors to take meaningful action to reduce their carbon emissions.

Selected Publications

Sébastien Jodoin, “The Rights of Forest-Dependent Communities in the Complex Legal Framework for REDD+,” in Christina Voigt, ed, Research Handbook on REDD-plus and International Law (London, UK: Edward Elgar Press, 2016) 157-185 (link to publisher's website).

Sébastien Jodoin, Sébastien Duyck & Katherine Lofts, “Public Participation and Climate Governance: An Introduction,” Special Issue: Public Participation and Climate Governance (2015) 24:2 Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 1-6 (link to article on journal's website).

Sébastien Jodoin, “Can Rights-based Approaches Enhance Legitimacy and Cooperation in Conservation? A Relational Account” (2014) 15:3 Human Rights Review 283-303 (link to article on journal's website).

Research Grants

Principal Investigator. “Rights in a Changing Climate: Understanding the Role of Human Rights Norms in Transnational Climate Advocacy” – $74,862 - SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2015-2018).

Principal Investigator, “Recognizing and Protecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Efforts to Combat Climate Change,” - $64,793 - SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2018-present).

Canadian climate Law & Policy

This research axis seeks to generate, summarize, and share new knowledge on the most effective legal and policy approaches and instruments that federal and provincial governments may adopt and implement to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Lab's recent work in this area has been collaborative and has taken place under the aegis of the Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD), a collective of over 70 Canadian scholars working in the field of climate change.

Selected Publications

Catherine Potvin... Sébastien Jodoin... et al., Reenergizing Canada. Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future, report commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources, Government of Canada, May 2017 (electronic version of the report available here).

Catherine Potvin... Sébastien Jodoin... et al. “Stimulating a Canadian Narrative for Climate,” (2017) 2 Facets 131-149 (link to article on journal's website).

Catherine Potvin ... Sébastien Jodoin... et al., “Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from 60 Canadian Scholars,” (2015) 6(1) Journal of Environmental Investing (link to article on journal's website). 

Catherine Potvin... Sébastien Jodoin... et al., Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars (Sustainable Canada Dialogues, March 2015) (electronic version of the report available here).