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Law Courses Catalog

Sustainability Law and Business Seminar

  • Typically offered every other year
Limit: 20 Students

Although it is somewhat difficult to define precisely, the concept of sustainability describes a way of meeting today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to likewise meet their requirements. As local and global environmental threats grow more acute, actors in both the private and public sectors have increasingly moved toward practicing and even requiring more sustainable ways of living, governing, and doing business. Lawyers are beginning to serve clients who incorporate sustainability into their organizational goals, and are themselves considering ways to make their practices more sustainable. This course will examine and help to define how emerging concepts of sustainability are influencing and influenced by the law and legal practice. Substantive topics will depend on student interest, but may include such topics as green labeling and marketing; alternative energy development; sustainable building and land-use practices; supply-chain sustainability requirements; socially responsible investing; triple-bottom line accounting and corporate reporting requirements; sustainability-related subsidies, tax credits and abatements; market-based environmental commodities and credits; sustainability and government contracting; and sustainability and business regulation.

Mirroring developments in the field, the seminar will have an interdisciplinary focus. The course is appropriate for students who have an interest or background in business law, for students who have a background or interest in environmental and natural resources law, as well as students who are new to both perspectives. Although Professor Bushaw specializes in business law and tends to view sustainability through a business law lens, participants in the seminar will attempt to break down some of the artificial barriers that often divide areas of law. Attorneys, experts and members of the business community will also participate in the seminar as appropriate. Students will participate in a handful of local field trips to examine sustainability issues in practice. All efforts will be made to schedule field trips during regular class time, however some flexibility in scheduling may be required.

Over the course of the semester, students will work both collaboratively and independently on written projects that will attempt to define the intersection of law and sustainability and elaborate on this emerging field’s key components. Students will work closely with the professor to edit and refine their final work product, with a view toward producing a resource that will be of use to audiences outside the law school. Students lead discussions during the semester, and will engage other members of the seminar in an examination of some of the results of their research and analysis. These endeavors will enhance collaboration, research, writing, and oral presentation skills. The written projects in this seminar may be used to satisfy the Writing Intensive Experience graduation requirement.

Class Attendance Policy:

The American Bar Association accreditation standards require students to regularly attend the courses in which they are registered. As this seminar involves collaborative work and field study, students should plan to attend and participate in every class session, and should make every effort to participate in every field trip. Sometimes irreconcilable conflicts or emergencies arise. In these cases, students may excuse absences only through appropriate arrangement with the professor. More specific attendance and participation guidelines will be provided to students in writing at the start of the semester.


Meets WIE writing requirement

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