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Law Courses Catalog

Sustainability Law and Business Seminar

  • Typically offered every other year

NOTE: This course description is new for the 2016-2017 academic year. You may read the prior course description immediately below this new one. 

2016-2017

Limit: 20 Students

Although 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. In addition to its environmental aspects, sustainability also often encompasses ideas of equity and inclusiveness. 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 concepts of 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. Student interest and projects selected by participants will help to shape the course, but substantive topics addressed in the class will include topics such as green labeling and marketing; sustainable 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 regulation; sustainability and government contracting; and sustainability and business regulation.

Mirroring developments in the field, the class will have an interdisciplinary focus. Guest speakers drawn from practicing attorneys, experts, and members of the business community will provide course participants with a real-world perspective on current developments in the field. The course also may include several field visits to sites away from the school over the course of the semester.

Students will work both collaboratively and independently on written projects that explore the intersection of law and sustainability and elaborate on this emerging field’s key components. Students will work closely with the professor and class colleagues to edit and refine their final work products, thus enhancing collaboration, research, writing, and oral presentation skills.

This class qualifies as a seminar; all participants may elect to use their written projects to satisfy the Writing Intensive Experience graduation requirement, or may complete a Capstone paper with permission of the professor. This is a three-credit course; the class will often meet for only two hours, but some weeks will meet for three hours to allow for guest speakers or field investigations. With work on written materials and projects outside class, as well as class meetings and time required to prepare for class, students will meet ABA requirements for three credits.

NOTE: The below course description applied prior to the 2016-2017 academic 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. Professor Bushaw, who specializes in business law, and Professor Rohlf, who specializes in environmental and natural resources law, will team teach the course, with an eye toward attempting to break down some of the artificial barriers that often divide these areas of law. Attorneys, experts and members of the business community will also participate in the seminar as appropriate. The seminar will include several field visits over the course of the semester. Although we will make every attempt to complete these field visits within the scheduled seminar time, there may need to be some flexibility in our departure or return times to accommodate traffic and considerations.

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 professors 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. This endeavor 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.