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Spotlight on Associate Professor Jeffrey McGee

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Jeffrey McGee is an Associate Professor in Climate Change, Marine and Antarctic Law
with the College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania.

What inspires you about teaching and interacting with students in Law?

Ass Prof Jeffrey McGee
Associate Professor Jeffrey McGee

I really enjoy seeing the creativity and determination that UTAS law students bring in wishing to make a difference in responding to the big challenges the world currently faces.

Law students are not only focused on obtaining a high-quality professional qualification in law, but are also deeply interested in helping Tasmania, Australia and the world respond to key challenges such as climate change, depletion of the health of our oceans, governing the Antarctic region to our South, and managing geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

What do you believe to be the most important skills and attributes that Law graduates must acquire for a contemporary legal career?

Rigorous legal analysis: the ability to be able to identify all relevant law to address a legal problem- and then understand how different actors will likely seek to interpret the law in applying it.

Advocacy for the rule of law: the ability to explain and advocate for the role of law, and the legal system, as key elements that provide social stability and order within our societies.

Critical thinking about the law: understanding what social forces provide us with the law we have, and what social forces will likely operate in shaping the law into the future.

How long have you been with the University of Tasmania and what are your career highlights so far?

I started at UTAS in early 2015, so have now been at UTAS for 7.5 years. I am a joint appointment in Climate Change, Marine and Antarctic Law across both IMAS and the Law School. This interdisciplinary working environment has been terrific in allowing me to work within teams of world class climate scientists, oceanographers, lawyers, and marine governance experts. This high-level interdisciplinary collaboration has allowed some success with grants to support research, with two Australian Research Council Discovery grants, and an ARC LIEF grant, awarded in recent years with total funding of over $1.2 million.

I have also been a member of the Australian government delegations to the recent 41st meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the 43rd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. These meetings provided a unique perspective on Antarctic law and the intersection of international law and diplomacy.

With colleagues from the Law School and University of Adelaide, I was also involved on setting up the Australian Forum for Climate Intervention Governance (AFCIG) within the UTAS Law School, as Australia’s first research group on governance of climate intervention technologies.

Antarctic UTAS

What is your area of research expertise and why is it important?

My primary research focus is on how international law, through the Antarctic Treaty System, orders the Antarctic region in the face of major biophysical challenges (such as climate change) and political stresses (such as increasing geopolitical tension in the international system). This research focus weaves together my various research interests in climate change, oceans law, Antarctic law, and climate intervention technologies.

This research is important for Tasmania as Hobart is one of the five ‘Antarctic Gateway Cities’ which have significant geographical, social, and political proximity to Antarctica. This research is also important for Australia, as we have very significant scientific, political, strategic, legal, and economic interests in the Antarctic region- which are facilitated and protected by maintaining the robustness of the Antarctic Treaty System.