The Corporate Social Responsibility Clinic
Efforts to promote corporate social responsibility are vital to the promotion of human rights and environmental sustainability. From the use of energy and natural resources for general operations to source material extraction and the processing, shipping, selling and, ultimately, disposing of products, to the terms of employment throughout these networks and effects on neighboring communities and global consumers alike, human rights and the environment are impacted by most every aspect of corporate activity. With these myriad touch points, corporations have a key role to play in the development and evolution of these important areas of law. With their wide reach, businesses have the potential to improve environmental and human rights conditions worldwide: They possess the technological and research capacities to innovate new methods of sourcing, production and disposal to promote greater health and safety for people and the planet alike. Indeed, corporate social responsibility cannot be achieved without the creativity, innovation and cooperation of the business community.
The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) clinic, co-directed by Professors Daniel Bonilla and Paolo Galizzi, is designed to introduce students to the law and practice of corporate social responsibility, and expose them to the challenges and prospects for maximizing social and environmental outcomes alongside profits. Opportunities to promote sustainable development in global industry abound. Focusing on the intersection of industry, society and environmental sustainability, clinic participants will work on real-world projects to identify promising openings for early adopters and first-to-market innovators of sustainable policies, technologies, and business models. In Fall 2012, the CSR clinic will focus on Latin America. With regional exports still largely characterized by high shares of mineral and agricultural products, the majority of Latin American countries and peoples remain heavily dependent on their natural resource base, making socio-ecological practices in the region of critical importance for Latin American development, human rights and ecosystems.
The seminar portion of the clinic will introduce students to the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility law. With guest lecturers from experts in the field, students will study the history and modern development of the countries in which they will be working; as well as such practical skills as project research and design, stakeholder consultation, interview techniques, and proposal drafting and development. For the fieldwork component, participants will research and design a concrete CSR project. Fordham Law students may be partnered with multinational corporations active in the region, as well as Latin American law students/lawyers/non-governmental organizations, to develop a project, with the opportunity to travel to Latin America for one week mid-semester to meet their partners in person and take part in project planning/implementation on the ground.