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SEAL News: March 19, 2014 – SEAL XV Conference details & updates

Posted by on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in news, Uncategorized.

Dear SEAL members:

This is just a friendly reminder that, if you are planning to attend the 15th Annual SEAL Scholarship Conference, which will be held at the University of Illinois on April 4-5, you should register and reserve your hotel room as soon as possible. Although there is no official deadline to reserve a room at the conference hotel, space there is limited, and there are a number of other events going on in town during this same period.

I therefore wanted to provide you with up to date information so that you can register and book your hotel room as soon as possible, and then describe some of the exciting speakers that we have lined up so far (see below).

Beginning with procedure, the conference hotel this year is the Urbana Landmark Hotel, located at 210 S. Race St., Urbana, IL 61801.  You may call for reservations at (217) 384-8800, from 7:00 am to 12:00 am (midnight), and should give them the following reservation group: “U of I College of Law”.  You will need to give a credit card number over the phone to hold a reservation, and the group rate is $116 to $134 per night, plus tax—subject to conference block rate availability.  At the conference, food will be provided all day on Friday.  Breakfast and lunch with be provided on Saturday, and the conference will end mid-day on Saturday.  If possible, you should thus plan to arrive on Thursday, April 3, and return home anytime beginning on Saturday, April 5, in the afternoon. You may register at

Turning to substance, the conference is shaping up to be a really fantastic event this year.  It is co-sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Law and the Illinois Center for Comparative and Interdisciplinary Jurisprudence.  We have therefore been able to draw on the rich resources of the university to line up several exciting keynote speakers, who represent a broad range of disciplines.  They include:

Gene Robinson, University Swanlund Chair of Entomology, and Director of the Illinois Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois.  Professor Robinson has pioneered applications of the budding field of genomics to the study of social behavior.  He is the author of over 250 publications, including 26 published in Science or Nature; has been the recipient or co-recipient of over $42M in funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Agriculture and private foundations; led the effort to gain approval from the National Institutes of Health for sequencing the honey bee genome, and heads the Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium.  He will be giving a lecture entitled “From Me to We”, which will use some of the massive genomic data he has been gathering on social insects to demonstrate how the new science of genomics enables researchers to study social life in molecular terms, including examples of mechanisms regulating selfish behavior that have evolved to promote cooperation, and connections between socially responsive genomes and human health.  He will also discuss applications to human sociality.

Michael S. Moore, Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Chair, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Co-Director of Program in Law and Philosophy.  Professor Moore is one of the country’s most prominent authorities on the intersection of law and philosophy.  He holds the Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Chair, the first university-wide chair for the University of Illinois’ three campuses.  He also holds an appointment as a professor with the Center for Advanced Studies, an honor bestowed on faculty on the basis of their outstanding scholarship and among the highest forms of campus recognition.  In addition to eight books, Moore has published some 60 major articles, which have appeared in the country’s top law reviews.  He is the author of Placing Blame, A General theory of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 1997), widely regarded as the leading modern statement of the restributivist theory of punishment and of that theory’s systematic application to criminal law.  He will be presenting a talk entitled “The Neuroscience of Volitional Excuse”,  which asks whether recent advances in neuroscience and experimental psychology can help answer questions about the bearing of volitional excuses on moral and legal responsibility.

Thomas Anastasio, Associate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Beckman Institute, University of Illinois.  Professor Anastasio’s primary research interests are in neurobiology, including theh study of human memory formation using neural networks and complex systems analysis.  But he also strongly supports more interdisciplinary interaction for gaining new insights into brain function, and has therefore worked with collaborators from a much broader set of disciplines, from mathematics to history.  Much of his recent work has focused on processes of collective or social memory formation.  In this work, he has sought to identify processes of collective memory formation, which help to shape the cultural transmission of various social values and forms of social life, and which he arguesfunction in many ways that are analogous to the better known neurobiological processes of individual memory formation.  Professor Anastasio will be presenting a talk entitled “When Long Term Memory is Willing but Short-Term Memory is Weak”. This talk will ask how humans and human groups form long term memories, including those for social and legal values.  The talk will also consider how limitations in short term memory can create some obstacles to decision-making based on those values.

In addition, Owen Jones, the New York Chancellor’s Chair in Law, Professor of Biological Sciences, and Director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University, will be presenting a talk on  neuroscientific perspectives on the role (and control of) emotions during punishment decisions.   And I—Robin Bradley Kar, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Illinois—will be presenting a talk on the early prehistory and evolution of human social complexity and legal systems.  For a fuller list of talks and other conference information, which will be updated periodically, you may wish to visit:

I look forward to seeing you all very soon!



SEAL President