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Honors College designates Lynk as visiting fellow

August 18, 2008

Professor Myles Lynk of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has been appointed a Barrett Honors Visiting Fellow by Barrett, the Honors College at ASU.

Lynk, the college’s Peter Kiewit Foundation Professor of Law and the Legal Profession, is the first law professor to receive the honorary appointment.

He and the other 2008-2009 visiting fellow, professor Martin Pasqualetti in the ASU School of Geographical Sciences, will work with Barrett students on projects and papers during fall semester, then teach seminars in the spring.

“I am deeply honored and very excited by this opportunity to work with undergraduates and faculty from other parts of the university,” Lynk says. “ASU faculty members from across the university are delighted to be tapped by Barrett to do lectures and seminars, and to mentor these students.”

Paul Schiff Berman, dean of the College of Law, says he is pleased by Lynk’s selection.

“The American law school, historically, has been far too cut off from the rest of the liberal arts university,” Berman says.

“Accordingly, as we create a new ‘gold standard’ for public legal education at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, we seek to integrate undergraduate, Ph.D. and master’s-level education about law and policy with the traditional law degree. The college’s increasingly close relationship with Barrett is a reflection of that commitment, and I see Myles as the perfect person to continue building these important bridges.”

Lynk is no stranger to Barrett students, notes Margaret Nelson, vice dean of the honors college.

“Professor Lynk has been an invaluable supporter of Barrett, and we are delighted to have his intellectual focus with Barrett this year,” Nelson says.

Through the Project Excellence program, a partnership between the College of Law and Barrett, Lynk teaches the law and literature course, titled “Self & Society: Individual Choice & Social Order in Homer’s Iliad,” to law students and Barrett students. He uses the ancient Greek epic poem to illustrate the tensions in society between allowing individuals to pursue their own personal goals, and requiring individuals to be responsive to social needs.

Project Excellence enables ASU’s brightest undergrads to receive challenging experiences within the law-school curriculum.

Also, in 2007-2008, Lynk was the principal faculty supervisor for a Barrett senior’s honors thesis on Achilles’ attempt in the “Iliad” to redefine his social role and society’s norms of heroic behavior.

For his upcoming fellowship, Lynk is formulating a seminar for Barrett students that will use two examples of modern literature, the “Lord of the Rings” and the “Harry Potter” series, in light of a classic “law-related” novel such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to study how individuals make ethical choices and accept societal responsibilities in the absence of – or in opposition to – the legal regimes in place in their societies.

“We’ll be looking at a variety of contexts in which people are making moral choices without observable legal norms,” says Lynk, referring to the clear “good versus evil” theme in the “Lord of the Rings” in which moral choices are made pursuant to principles that derive from a certain inchoate “natural law” but that are not buttressed by – or derived from – human “laws.”

His students also will be delving into the legal and moral worlds of “muggles” and wizards in the “Harry Potter” novels, where laws and legal authorities exist but prove at first unwilling – and then unable – to confront and destroy the menace that evil presents.

Lynk notes, for example, that many of today’s students view the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as the greatest of modern American heroes. Yet King achieved his victories over segregation in opposition to the legal regimes that were in place in many parts of the United States in his time. Thus, the ultimate question Lynk, who joined the College of Law in 2000, wants his students to address is this: “What role, if any, do laws and legal institutions play in defining moral conduct and encouraging, not just permitting, correct moral choices?”

In addition to his law and literature course, Lynk teaches courses on business organizations, corporate governance, civil procedure and professional responsibility. He is the faculty adviser for the law school’s Corporate and Business Law Society, and the John P. Morris Black Law Student Association.

In 2004, Lynk was appointed by ASU President Michael Crow to serve as the university’s NCAA faculty athletics representative.
Lynk, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, also is a former partner in a national law firm and is a member of the governing council of the American Law Institute.