How a moment in a meadow seeded a global movement: Earth Jurisprudence explained

Earth Jurisprudence explained: Thomas Berry in a meadow

On the anniversary of Thomas Berry’s birthday, we share an animation and interactive story reflecting on how his philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence emerged – described by a recent UN report as “the fastest growing legal movement of the twenty-first century”.

Narrated by poet and Earth justice advocate Nnimmo Bassey, the animation begins with a moment in a meadow that seeded a global movement. Over the past two decades, Earth Jurisprudence has challenged the dominant conception of law and ethics, inspiring innovative legal provisions at local, national and international level that recognise humans’ participation in, and responsibility to, the wider web of life. It acknowledges indigenous ways of seeing as foundational to the transformation required in this time of crisis, and is gaining momentum within the industrial growth society that is holding life to ransom.

Watch the animation:

Read the interactive story:

A New Story for the Earth

In this interactive long read, we explore the principles of Earth Jurisprudence, where they came from and why they are crucial for our future, illustrated by examples of African leaders putting Earth Jurisprudence into practice with their communities and landscapes.

We stand at a crossroads unprecedented in human history, with government leaders convening for two global conferences on climate change and biodiversity in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the fabric of life is unravelling.

Across our planet, the lives of humans and other species are being displaced or lost to increasing climate chaos and ecological breakdown, while corporate greenwashing, right-wing politics, inequity and conflicts escalate. Over a million species are in imminent danger of disappearing completely; known as the sixth mass extinction, this rapid decline in diversity is the direct result of exponential growth and globalisation by the industrial economy. It will take our Earth millions of years to recover from such a profound undermining of her life support system.

“The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of the present situation.” – Thomas Berry

At this critical time, Earth Jurisprudence offers us a powerful perspective. It is the guiding principle of a new story that is also very ancient. A story in which we are invited to remember and re-establish a mutually-enhancing relationship with our living world.


Subscribe to our monthly Earth Jurisprudence update