At St. Thomas Law, our mission compels us to engage rapidly changing fields of knowledge.
Given that our law school is named after a 13th-century philosopher (Thomas Aquinas), one might forgive the casual observer for assuming that the Catholic Church’s primary contributions to law are shrouded in the mists of medieval times. On the contrary, our law school’s commitment to the integration of faith and reason positions us to shed light on some of the thorniest debates regarding cutting-edge technology. As Professor Tom Berg explained in a St. Thomas Law Journal symposium dedicated to the topic, religious traditions can “deepen our appreciation of shared concepts that are central to [intellectual property]: ownership, creativity, justice and fairness.”
This issue of St. Thomas Lawyer explores the law school’s expanding presence in the world of intellectual property. How do we equip our students with the technical skills to excel and the moral sensitivity to flourish in a field that is so central to human progress? How do we contribute to the law’s incentivization of knowledge creation without exacerbating global inequities? Can the law support broad participation in the economy while recognizing a robust system of property rights?
These are questions that are at the heart of our law school’s mission. Few could have predicted that a global pandemic would lead Pope Francis to weigh in on the morality of patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines, or that knowledge of the human genome would drive a whole new set of arguments about the nature of property. We cannot predict what technologies will drive policy debates 10 years from now. But we do know that our faculty, students and alumni will be active participants as advocates, counselors, experts and leaders. Whatever perspective they bring, they will act from a shared premise: We are obliged to bring timeless truths to bear on a rapidly changing world of innovation.
This letter from School of Law Dean Robert Vischer ran in the fall 2021 issue of St. Thomas Lawyer.