The Lunder Center galleries are temporarily closed.


For Immediate Release

September 24, 2014

Williamstown, MA—Duncan French, head of Lincoln Law School and professor of international law, University of Lincoln, England, presents the free lecture “Magna Carta as Good Governance: Environmental Rights as Citizen Rights” on Sunday, October 5 at 3 pm in conjunction with the Clark's exhibition Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution. The lecture will be held at the Paresky Center at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Though Magna Carta has little to say on environmental matters, the right of any society to reimagine its priorities in light of its values is as significant today as it was in 1215—as evidenced by the recent global climate march, which drew 400,000 concerned citizens to New York City alone. In a wide-ranging talk on the emerging relationship between the environment and human rights, French will talk about the relevance of Magna Carta in twenty-first century governance, with an emphasis on environmental protection. He will examine the relationship between individuals and the state in 1215 when the document was drawn up, and how its principles still inform what we do now. French will suggest that the present challenges in crafting procedural safeguards and substantive environmental rights reflect the perennial struggle between citizenry and those in authority to achieve outcomes that are effective, fair, and legitimate.

“Magna Carta forms part of a larger history of how we should govern ourselves, what our society should look like, and how to protect our values and priorities,” French said. “In a supposedly post-modern age, and certainly a post-industrial era, ensuring the quality of the environment has become a key feature of many politicians’ democratic mandates. Magna Carta offers us the chance to witness democracy in its earliest form, and even in a modern society we can continue to draw from that.”

Professor Duncan French is a leading academic on international environmental law and the international legal implications of sustainable development. He has written extensively in these areas, as well as writing generally on broader questions of public international law and international economic and investment law, as well as the interaction between international law and European Union law.

French’s secondary research interests lie in international law of the sea and Antarctica. As a key figure in the global debate on sustainable development, he has been co-rapporteur of the International Law Association (ILA) Committee on the International Law on Sustainable Development for ten years.

He is currently Chairman of the ILA Working Group on International Law and Due Diligence. A recent work on global justice and sustainable development was nominated for the prestigious International Studies Association 2012 Harold and Margaret Sprout Environmental Studies Book prize.

He was a Professor of International Law at the University of Sheffield from 2009 until 2012, prior to taking up his new post as the Head of Lincoln Law School in February 2012. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of South Australia.
Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution presents one of the four surviving copies of the original Magna Carta, courtesy of Lincoln Cathedral, as part of the United Kingdom’s preparations for celebrating the document’s 800th anniversary in 2015. The exhibition includes five additional key documents, all on loan from Williams College: a broadside original of the Declaration of Independence printed on July 4, 1776 that is one of twenty-six known surviving copies; a draft of the United States Constitution annotated by George Mason, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention; an 1863 official folio copy of the Emancipation Proclamation printed by the U.S. State Department two days after President Abraham Lincoln signed the original; an 1876 original of the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States published by the National Woman Suffrage Association; and a 1949 copy of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt. The exhibition is on view through November 2.

Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution has been organized by the Clark Art Institute, in partnership with Lincoln Cathedral—Bringing Magna Carta to the USA. It is generously supported by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the officers and employees of Allen & Company, Inc., the Gilder Foundation, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

About the Clark
The Clark Art Institute is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, open to the public with more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark opened its expanded facilities on July 4, 2014, unveiling new and enhanced spaces that accommodate the continued growth of the Institute’s programs. Included in this final stage of the project are the new 42,600-square-foot Clark Center designed by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, expansion and renovation of the original Museum Building and the ongoing renovation of the Manton Research Center by Selldorf Architects, and a sweeping redesign of the grounds by Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture. The first phase of the campus expansion project was completed in 2008 with the opening of the Lunder Center at Stone Hill, a striking conservation and exhibitions facility also designed by Tadao Ando.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries open daily from through October 13, 2014, 10 am to 5 pm. From October 14, 2014 through June 30, 2015: Galleries open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20 through October 31, 2014 and free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit or call 413 458 2303.

Press contact:
Amanda Powers
The Clark
[email protected]
413 458 0471