David Gartner on governance, teaching and critical mass

Thursday, September 6, 2012

David Gartner

David Gartner is part of the College of Law's global law dream team affiliated with its Center for Law and Global Affairs. That team includes Dan Bodansky, ASU Lincoln Professor of Law, Ethics, and Sustainability, a preeminent authority on global climate change, Kenneth Abbott, Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar, a leading scholar in international law and international relations, and Aaron Fellmeth, a leading expert on the law and regulation of international business transactions and intellectual property.

“One of the things that attracted me to ASU was how differently President (Michael M.) Crow thinks about the role of the university in terms of interdisciplinary research and addressing major social challenges.”

Gartner, who is also a Senior Sustainability Scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability, a Faculty Affiliate in the School of Public Affairs, and a Lincoln Scholar with the ASU Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, takes full advantage, working with colleagues on joint research projects, exciting collaborative teaching efforts, and expansion of the reach and impact of the Center.

“Professor Gartner is a fantastic representation of the vision and mission of academics at the College of Law,” said Dean Douglas Sylvester. “His interdisciplinary and innovative research, spurred by his Ph.D. from MIT, seeks to tackle some of the world’s most pressing and thorny issues — from global health to sustainability. At the same time, David’s wealth of practical experience brings real-world perspective to his work and his teaching.”

Gartner said the success of the College of Law is reflected not just in its rankings but also in its recognition among scholars across the country.

“When I go to conferences or visit other universities, the people I talk with are impressed with the critical mass we have at ASU,” said Gartner, who earned his J.D. at Yale Law School and his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Even at higher-ranked institutions, they say, ‘Well, we don’t have people as well-known as you do at ASU.’ And they are envious of the interdisciplinary scholarship we have here.”

The Center, with the help of Executive Director Daniel Rothenberg, this year will bring in Robert O. Keohane, a professor at Princeton University, one of the leading scholars of international relations, and Steven R. Ratner a leading authority on international law and professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

“The Center for Law and Global Affairs has really taken off in the last couple of years from what was just an idea to really fostering collaboration at the law school and beyond,” Gartner said.

For example, Gartner, Abbott and Professor James G. Hodge Jr., Director of the College’s Public Health Law and Policy Program, recently worked together on a global health law class. It brought together students from across the university to hear from leading policy-makers, like Ann Gavaghan, Chief of Staff of the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, who is working on The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Gartner said that collaboration and classroom experience spurred innovation in his own research on governance.

One article he is working on with Abbott is called, “Reimagining Participation in International Institutions,” which explores how global environmental institutions, which pioneered broadened participation in governance, are moving away from that, while global health institutions are reimagining participation and including non-state actors as full participants in governance with important implications for the effectiveness of these institutions.

“We’re part of a different era, from the time when leading institutions, like the United Nations and the World Bank, were created,” Gartner said. “We’re living in a period in which not just powerful states have influence over world events.”

Gartner also is finishing an article on the enforcement of human rights laws which analyzes competing explanations for the enforcement of the right to education across a range of different countries.

“There are several different theories about what leads to better human rights enforcement,” Gartner said. “Some think that enforcement is more likely under a democracy. Others believe that stronger constitutional provisions are the key to effective enforcement, while a third view holds that societies in which there are more non-governmental organizations are better at enforcing human rights, but none of these perspectives fully captures the complex dynamics of rights enforcement.”

Gartner said the College of Law has been a welcoming and supportive intellectual community for a new faculty member.

“It is striking how generous people are in engaging with your work and helping to make it better,” he said.

And while Gartner is excited about his research, he is also very engaged in his teaching.

“It’s one of the most exciting parts of being at ASU,” said Gartner, who has taught constitutional law,  foreign relations law, international institutions and global health law.

“Constitutional law is a chance to engage students who are relatively new to the experience of law school and who are still developing their tool kit of legal reasoning and analysis, a chance to help them better understand the relationship between law and the most important issues of our day, including things like the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on health care.

“It connects a long line of cases that we look at to present day issue of interest to us all.”

After the Court’s historic hearings on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, he and other constitutional law professors took advantage of the Court’s unusual immediate release of transcripts and audio.

“We organized a supplemental session where we played the oral arguments,” Gartner said. “It was as close as you could come to the actual experience. We talked about the case and ways to approach what is really fast moving and evolving area of law.”

Gartner’s course on international institutions moves students beyond their first-year terrain.

“For many students, it’s quite an eye-opening experience in terms of gaining insight into how the world is governed,” Gartner said. “There are many parallels with debates in constitutional law.”

Gartner also has served on the faculty appointments committee, helping recruit top talent, and on the awards committee, making him more aware of the amazing work students are doing, particularly the impressive number of pro bono hours they are working.

He continues his work with the Brookings Institution as a nonresident fellow, focusing on the role of innovative international institutions and non-state actors in shaping international law and the response to global challenges in areas such as global health, development, education and the environment. And he also is a reviewer for several journals and a leader in the international law section of the American Association of Law Schools and the American Society of International Law.

When not working, Gartner explores the natural beauty of Arizona, hiking its mountains and deserts and visiting botanical gardens.


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