Sundance, philosophy and the law: S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Leslie Francis will bring academic perspective to film festival

There’s a new correspondent reporting live from the Sundance Film Festival this year.

Leslie Francis, a professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, will be reporting from the festival from the lens of her academic expertise in law and philosophy. She’ll attend about 25 films at the festival from Jan.19-29, where she’ll pen reviews for Philosophy Talk, a blog and weekly radio show based out of Stanford University. (The show is broadcast on public radio affiliates around the country).

Leslie Francis. Photo by Sarah May.

Leslie Francis. Photo by Sarah May.

Francis has always loved film and wanted to find a way to meld her passion for the art form into a community discussion about big ideas raised at Sundance premieres related to her academic background in ethics, philosophy and law. She holds joint appointments as distinguished Alfred C. Emery professor of law and distinguished professor of philosophy, and adjunct appointments in family and preventive medicine (in the division of public health), internal medicine (in the division of medical ethics) and political science. She was appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor in 2009.  In 2000, she was a co-winner of the U’s Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, an endowed award given annually to an outstanding member of the faculty.

She’s considered to be one of the top academics in her field, making history last year as the first academic from Utah in 75 years to receive the highest academic honor in philosophy when she was elected president of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association. Selection as one of the American Philosophical Association’s three divisional presidents is considered to be the highest academic honor in the discipline of philosophy.

Francis also serves as director of the new University of Utah Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences. The growing center is a resource for improving the law as it relates to the rapidly evolving areas of health policy, the life sciences, biotechnology, bioethics and the medical and technological arts, in order to help overcome critical health care challenges. The center and its faculty and students are involved in applied, interdisciplinary research, innovative teaching and training and public service and programming. The center’s roots were established three years ago, and it has grown into a stand-alone center that has sponsored a number of academic initiatives including symposia, moot court competitions, contributing to the university’s role as an incubator of scientific discovery, working on pro bono work at the legal-medical clinic, adding a pro bono guardianship project and publishing a lively blog on emerging biomedicine and law issues.

At Sundance, Francis be Tweeting from @philtalkradio and @francis0810 on Twitter and will appear on the weekly radio show to discuss her academic reflections on various films. Her prior work can be found in the #FrancisOnFilm series on the Philosophy Talk web site.