PERCEPTIONS OF RISK: How We Manage Emergencies

University of Pennsylvania Faculty Senate Symposium
Co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL)

Eye of hurricane

How We Manage Emergencies
April 1, 2015
3:00 – 5:00 p.m., reception to follow
Fitts Auditorium | University of Pennsylvania Law School

The study of risk management across a variety of domains is an essential part of policymaking today. From public health to national security, market analysis, and natural disaster emergency response, the question of how to assess and to respond to risks is of the utmost importance.
Important questions pertaining to the public perception include:

Does the public perceive risks accurately or are public perceptions distorted by cognitive biases?
Should public perceptions of risk be taken into account in risk management plans even if they seem “irrational”?
Should preparedness for disasters follow the same template as management of more ordinary risks?
Should the management of risk in the public sector differ from that in the private?
Should the risk of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, be handled in the same way as the risk of human threats, such as terrorism or criminal activity?
Does a serious threat that persists over a protracted period of time, such as a daily threat of terrorism, still count as a security emergency?
When are restrictions of civil liberties, such as quarantines or preventive restraint, justified to pre-empt risk of harm to the general public?
The purpose of this Symposium is to foster multi-disciplinary and inter-professional conversation about risk perception and strategies of emergency management. The panelists will engage in a conversation about emergency preparedness and how our perceptions of risk factor into those efforts.


Professor P.J. Brennan, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President for the University of Pennsylvania Health System
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Russel Honoré
Led the Department of Defense Task Force in response to Hurricane Katrina
Professor Dan Kahan
Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School, specializing in risk perception
Vice President Maureen Rush, M.S., CPP
Vice President for Public Safety, University of Pennsylvania

Professor Claire Finkelstein
Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, Founder and Director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law
For more information please contact

Penn Law School ·
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19104

Cyber War Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts

Cover for 9780198717492

Cyber War

Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts


Jens David Ohlin, Kevin Govern, and Claire Finkelstein

19 May 2015

Cover for 9780198717508

Cyber War

Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts


Jens David Ohlin, Kevin Govern, and Claire Finkelstein

19 May 2015

  • Explores the controversial legal and ethical problems raised by cyber war, critically assessing the received wisdom about its legal implications
  • Examines the complex questions of which legal regimes apply to cyber attacks, whether principles of humanitarian law work in cyber warfare situations, and how these principles can be translated into the operational reality
  • Provides an unique analysis of the foundational questions of the legality and morality of cyber warfare

Ethical Dilemmas in the Global Defense Industry

Ethical Dilemmas in the Global Defense Industry

The defense industry operates at the intersection of the public and private sectors in a global arena and routinely interacts with foreign legal systems and diverse cultures.  Navigating these different contexts creates challenges for the defense industry, particularly where legal and ethical norms conflict.  How should a defense industry company conduct business in countries where government officials operate according to different moral norms?  Should the defense industry be responsive to ethical objections to technological developments in the context of surveillance or controversial new weapons such as autonomous weapons systems?  Should the global defense industry be held to a higher standard than other industries given the sensitive and potentially controversial nature of its enterprise?  Domestically, other pressing questions arise.  Should partnerships between the defense industry and institutions of higher learning be encouraged?  Do such partnerships raise ethical concerns?

The purpose of this conference is to inspire constructive discussion pertaining to such questions, by bringing  together distinguished practitioners and scholars from the private sector, academia, government service and the military to engage in an in-depth exploration of the moral and legal challenges facing the global defense industry.


The Future of Interrogation: National Security in 21st Century Conflict

February 25, 2015
  • Event Image

Contact Info:

The Future of Interrogation: National Security in 21st Century Conflict

Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Location: The National Press Club  |  529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor  |  Washington, DC 20045

6:00 – 8:00 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program (SSCI Report) has reignited debate about the ethics and legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL), of the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Perry World House, will host a public panel discussing the Report’s findings. The panel will address the moral and legal status of harsh interrogation methods, the rights of detainees, as well as the role of international law in regulating interrogation practices.

In addition, the panel will discuss the role of professionals engaged with national security, many of whom are bound by professional codes of ethics. What are the duties of professionals when national security imperatives conflict with the standards of their professions? How should violation of such duties be handled?

Finally, the panel will address the controversy surrounding the SSCI Report itself. Some see the report as a long overdue exposure of a doleful chapter in our nation’s recent history. Others see the report as an exercise in partisan politics.

The panel brings together illustrious speakers from different backgrounds to explore these topics in a respectful, thought-provoking and non-partisan manner. There will be a reception after the formal proceedings.

This program has been approved for 2.0 ethics credits for Pennsylvania and D.C. attorneys.  CLE credits may be available in other jurisdictions as well.  Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $30.00 cash or check made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

Please type your affiliation/organization below:

Register for this event

The Future of Interrogation: National Security in 21st Century Conflict

Obama Seeks an Expansive War Authorization to Combat ISIS


A bomber leaving an American aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to carry out attacks against Islamic State targets. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Nearly five months after launching a war against the Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria, the Obama administration has gotten around to requesting formal authorization from Congress to conduct that war.

While indefensibly late, the move is nonetheless welcome if it triggers the long-needed substantive debate about the goals, scope and justification of a military intervention that was launched with the claim of authority from laws passed more than a decade ago to allow the use of force in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In seeking a three-year authorization, President Obama appears to be trying to avoid leaving an open-ended mandate that his successor could interpret unjustifiably broadly, much as his administration has. The request sets limits on the use of ground forces, which is good news if Congress and the White House view that as explicitly ruling out another protracted intervention.

The parameters of a proposed war authorization the White House sent to Congress on Wednesday, however, are alarmingly broad. It does not limit the battlefield to Syria and Iraq, the strongholds of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which is attempting to form a caliphate. It also seeks permission to attack “associated persons or forces” of the brutal group, a term that appears to be excessively expansive and could undermine Mr. Obama’s stated intent to limit the force authorization.

While a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, or A.U.M.F., would sunset the 2002 law Congress passed to pave the way for the invasion of Iraq, it would leave intact the 2001 mandate for the war in Afghanistan. That is problematic, considering that the Obama administration has relied on that law to start attacks that were well beyond the scope of what lawmakers authorized at the time. In a letter to Congress delivered on Wednesday, Mr. Obama reiterated his intent to “refine, and ultimately repeal” that statute, which serves as a foundation for American military operations in Afghanistan. He should go further and set a date for its expiration.

If the White House prevails, it would get virtually unrestricted power to engage in attacks around the globe as long as it can justify a connection, however tenuous, to the Islamic State.

2015 Military Legitimacy Award Competition Announcement

The Barnes-Wall Foundation of South Carolina is again soliciting nominations for the following award to a deserving student:

The foundation will consider providing a Military Legitimacy Review Award ($500.00) to the best paper on a topic related to military legitimacy, as well as the additional category of a Military Scholarship Award ($250) to a rising military scholar (Cadet/Midshipman/Officer Candidate/Senior Military College*/Military Junior College** attendee) for the best paper on a topic related to military legitimacy.

The award is not intended to recognize a paper for academic credit in an independent study, but an award for the best paper in a class or group of 3 or more. The topic and paper should relate to legal and moral issues in military operations and/or strategy (e.g. democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and religion/cultural issues), with the winning paper being posted (with a non-exclusive right of publication, rights reserved by author) with the author’s permission on the Military Legitimacy Review (MLR) website at

A new cycle for 2015 begins, with submissions solicited for the next year’s competition accepted through April 7, 2015. For additional details please contact the Editor in Chief of the MLR, Professor of Law Kevin Govern, via or

*= A senior military college (SMC) is one of six colleges that offer military Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs and are specifically recognized under 10 USC 2111a(f). The six senior military colleges are:

University of North Georgia; Dahlonega, Georgia
Norwich University; Northfield, Vermont
Texas A&M University; College Station, Texas
The Citadel; Charleston, South Carolina
Virginia Military Institute; Lexington, Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech); Blacksburg, Virginia
**=There are five Military Junior Colleges in the United States:

Wentworth Military Academy, Lexington, Missouri.
Valley Forge Military Academy, Wayne, Pennsylvania.
Marion Military Institute, Marion, Alabama.
New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, New Mexico.
Georgia Military College, Milledgeville, Georgia.

NIMJ Writing Competition

The National Institute of Military Justice (NIMJ) is a non-profit NGO dedicated to the fair administration of military justice and the advancement of public understanding of military law. NIMJ seeks to bring together academic interest and practical experience in military justice. One of the ways in which NIMJ has sought to recognize the growing interest in military justice and encourage further study of military legal issues is through awards that recognize excellence in military legal scholarship. These awards advertise to the broader legal community some of the most significant work being done by judge advocates and other practitioners, scholars, and students of military justice, military commissions, and the laws of war.

Kevin J. Barry Award for Excellence in Military Legal Studies. This award honors an outstanding article published in a calendar year. It also honors an outstanding scholar and peerless advocate of reform: Kevin J. Barry, a founder and longtime director of NIMJ. Captain Barry retired from the Coast Guard after 25 years of service that included duty as an operations officer, navigator, trial and defense counsel, staff judge advocate, and trial and appellate judge. As a lawyer, scholar, citizen, and gentleman, Kevin Barry is a model for those who would improve military justice. The award carries a $250 prize and certificate.

Articles published in an academic journal, law review, or similar forum during 2014 are eligible for that year’s award (including articles dated in an earlier year but which actually appear later; some law journals take so long to release their issues that an article dated 2014 might actually appear in 2015). This award is intended to recognize substantial scholarship and will be evaluated for “excellence in military legal studies,” with the winner selected by a committee of law professors and practitioners, keeping in mind NIMJ’s mission to improve public understanding of military justice. If no article is deemed appropriate for the award, the committee may elect not to make an award for that year. If more than one article is deemed worthy of recognition, the committee may honor such articles with honorable mentions. Copies of the winning and honorable articles will be posted on NIMJ’s website if permitted by the author.

Interested scholars should submit their articles with details of its publication, the author’s name, email, and phone number, to NIMJ at no later than midnight on 31 January 2015. Any questions may be directed to Philip D. Cave, Esq. at