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VCPC Student Examines Land Use in Southeast Community

By Sydney MaHan, Student Correspondent

Jennifer Morris.

Jennifer Morris.

Referring to herself, Jennifer Morris jokes, “she has been in school a long time.”

Having a PhD in Art History and Archeology, Morris came to law school to jump-start her career in cultural heritage law, and she hopes to work for the government or a non-profit upon graduation.

“For me this [environmental law] is directly related to things like the Chrysler Museum of Art which is sitting in a part of Norfolk which always gets flooded,” says Morris. “I’ve seen the water come up to the steps of the museum and ducks swimming around, and it’s like ok you’ve got millions of dollars worth of art. So for me these things are directly related.”

Having been selected to work with the Southeast Care Coalition on creating a development plan, for the southeast community of Newport News, Morris had the opportunity to combine her passions of understanding the intersection of culture and the environment.

The southeast community of Newport News is especially vulnerable to recurrent flooding and sea level rise due to a combination of the community’s physical, social, and economic position. The development plan Morris was asked to create sought to analyze land use in the community in order to discover which plans presented obstacles in responding to these prevalent environmental issues.

Morris says this opportunity to get out of the classroom drew her to the VCPC: “For me the most important thing is practical knowledge and learning how to go from the textbook into real life hands-on practice of the law.”

Having learned about the intricacies of how law is applied in a local setting, Morris has developed a series of maps showing the current and anticipated land uses in the southeast community. She hopes these maps will be useful in providing a clearer picture as to where the community should focus its efforts.

Morris is from Ohio and in her second year at William & Mary Law School. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in art history from Duke University and her Masters and PhD in art history and archeology from Princeton University. Morris currently teaches at Thomas Nelson Community College. She was a Samuel H. Kress Research Fellow in Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich and teaching assistant for undergraduate fellows at Princeton University. Additionally, this past summer she was an Instructor of Legal English in Mandalay, Myanmar.

An extension partner of Virginia Sea Grant, VCPC at William & Mary Law School provides policy and legal analysis to its partners on coastal resource and community issues in its mission to educate and train the future lawyers and leaders of tomorrow