Professor Troy Rule, faculty director of ASU’s law and sustainability program, noted that the Morrison Prize contest continues to grow in prestige and influence year after year.

“Richard Morrison’s generosity in continuing to fund this prize contest is helping to drive sustainability-focused academic research in truly impactful ways,” he said. “ASU is extremely fortunate to partner with him in this important effort.”

Each year, law professors from throughout the world who have recently published articles in North American legal academic journals are eligible to enter the Morrison Prize contest. All entries undergo independent review and scoring by a group of professors not affiliated with ASU who teach in environmental sustainability-related areas at various North American law schools. The scores from these judges are aggregated to determine the prize winner.

Past winners

In 2022, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission general counsel Matthew Christiansen and University of Chicago Law Professor Joshua Macey won the Morrison Prize for their article “Long Live the Federal Power Act’s Bright Line.” 

In 2021, University of Chicago Law Professor Joshua Macey won the Morrison Prize for his article “Zombie Energy Laws,” which described how certain energy laws were impacting the nation’s decarbonization efforts.

In 2020, Vanderbilt University Law School professors Jim Rossi and Christopher Serkin won the Morrison Prize for their insightful article “Energy Exactions,” which was published in the spring 2019 issue of the Cornell Law Review. The article described how local governments could better leverage their land use regulatory authority to drive substantial increases in rooftop solar energy installations and energy-efficient real estate development.

In 2019, a six-author team won the Morrison Prize for an unprecedented analysis of the structuring of conservation easements in the face of rapid climate change. The article, titled “Climate change challenges for land conservation: Rethinking conservation easements, strategies, and tools,” was co-written by Federico Cheever, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Jessica Owley, director of the environmental law program at University of Buffalo - State University of New York; Adena R. Rissman, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Forestry and Wildlife Ecology; M. Rebecca Shaw, chief scientist at the World Wide Fund for Nature; Barton H. Thompson Jr., a professor of natural resources at Stanford Law School; and W. William Weeks, director of the Conservation Law Clinic at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.

In 2018, Minnesota Law School Professor Hari M. Osofsky and Jacqueline Peel, associate dean of the University of Melbourne Law School in Australia, won the prize for their academic article “Energy Partisanship.” They outlined the critical importance of circumventing fierce political divisions in order to combat climate change, and provided guidance for doing so.

In 2017, Vanderbilt University professors Michael P. Vandenbergh and Jonathan Gilligan won the prize for "Beyond Gridlock." The article underscored the difficulties of effecting change through government and highlighted the underutilized potential to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through the private sector.

In 2016, Dave Owen, a professor at University of California, Hastings College of Law, and Colin Aspe, a freshwater conservation advisor at the Nature Conservancy, were the inaugural winners of the Morrison Prize. Their article, “Trading Dams,” described creative new policy approaches for better balancing hydroelectric energy generation and environmental protection on the nation’s river system. 

Lindsay Walker

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law