On February 23, Rutgers University, Newark, will honor Mark S. Weiner, Professor of Law and Sidney I. Reitman Scholar at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, as 2009/2010 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Scholar. Chancellor Steven J. Diner will present the award to Weiner, who will then give a talk titled “Clan, Culture, and the Concept of Law: Lessons from Iceland.” The event will begin at 4 pm in the Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark.
Professor Weiner spent the fall 2009 semester as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Akureyi, Iceland, where he taught an intensive course on U.S. constitutional law. He also conducted research for a new book about the legal and cultural significance of the clan, or extended kinship network, and its relation to the growth of the modern state. Among other topics, the book will consider how legal developments in the Middle Ages shed light on current efforts to develop the rule of law in weak states and regions of the world which nurture international terrorism. “I believe what happened in Iceland in the 13th century can help us understand what’s happening right now in Afghanistan and Somalia,” explains Weiner. His Feb. 23 talk will address those topics and provide an overview of his work in progress.
“I’m thrilled and deeply honored to receive the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award,” says Weiner. “I’m dedicated to non-partisan academic research which can take many years to produce and often can seem pretty arcane — right now I’m most excited about trying to understand what happened in Icelandic law between 1262 and 1281. But I’m also devoted to bringing ideas that might initially seem obscure to the general public and to showing why they have meaning and importance for us today.”
The Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award honors faculty for both the knowledge they uncover during their research and their ability to convey that knowledge to the public. “Research scholars must have done exceptional scholarly work on a subject of fundamental intellectual importance, and demonstrate that they can discuss their research — no matter how technical it might be — in terms understandable to a broad general audience,” explains Diner. Last spring Weiner was selected Professor of the Year by students at the law school.
Weiner notes, “I’m so pleased to be recognized by the university for the kind of work I do — especially by Chancellor Diner, who is a fellow historian. It’s impossible to overstate what recognition like this can do for a scholar’s morale: it can sustain you for years while you’re navigating a sea of intellectual uncertainties.”