Faculty of Law

Two new professors – upping the proportion of women

The Faculty of Law has appointed two new professors.

Ingunn Elise Myklebust and Sigrid Eskeland Schütz
Ingunn Elise Myklebust and Sigrid Eskeland Schütz
Henning Simonsen

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Ingunn Myklebust and Sigrid Eskeland Schütz were recently appointed as professors by the Faculty Board of the Faculty of Law, increasing the proportion of female professors to 8 out of 33, which is 24 per cent. Both are specialists in environmental and planning law. We therefore met the two of them together for a chat – and asked the standard three questions that all newly appointed professors are asked.

Why did you choose the Faculty of Law as your workplace?

Sigrid: It all started when I was a junior research fellow here working on my project thesis, which is roughly equivalent to a large Master's thesis in scope. I discovered how much I enjoy researching a topic in depth. After working for a year as an assistant judge in Stord, I ended up back at Dragefjellet as a PhD student. I love the working environment here and feel it is a privilege to teach some of the nation's brightest young minds.

Ingunn: In my case one thing simply led to another. I too was a junior research fellow and wrote a project thesis. I liked being at the Faculty, but also wanted to go out into the world. I have spent a total of about three years in other jobs: I spent two years working for the City of Bergen, first in the municipal planning permission department and then in the City Council's environmental affairs and urban development department. After I had finished my PhD I worked for the City Advocate for just over a year.

What role do you think jurisprudence plays in society today?

Sigrid: First up, these days jurisprudence has to strike a balance between international law and national law. Secondly, it is a paradox of environmental law that pretty much all the activities that harm the environment today are entirely legal. The role of environmental law in the future must therefore be to develop legal systems and structures that prevent new unintended environmental problems on the international, regional and national levels.

Might I add that new insights and understanding of trends in legal developments are important for the interpretation of existing legal principles and discretionary provisions in current law. We are seeing a growing number of new rules intended to protect the environment, and also that old rules are being revised to underline the importance of protection of the environment in the application of law. I would also like to emphasise that the dissemination of research results is an important task. The knowledge we gain from research must be communicated out to the students and to the bodies that administer the rules. For example, we hold two courses in planning law. One continuing education course for executive officers in the public administration, and one ordinary course as part of the Master's degree programme.

What challenges do you foresee for the Faculty going forwards?

Sigrid: I believe the Faculty should be a place for lifelong learning that brings together students, practitioners and theorists. The education we offer must also ensure that the next generation of lawyers are as familiar with international law and theory as they are with Norwegian sources.

Right now I think it is pertinent to assess the need for a new curriculum with specialisation in the last two years. This could be an ideal opportunity for the Faculty to rethink the system and make some changes. How should the programme best be structured? What new courses are needed? How can relationships be built between the courses? Environmental law issues are important in both public and private law courses. There is also a close link between research and teaching, so a "new" curriculum could pave the way for new research questions.