The Global Research Seminar (GRS) is an innovative teaching model for exploring the global nature of today’s most complex legal issues. These intensive research courses culminate in an overseas field research visit where students and faculty meet jointly with primary stakeholders on key topics in public and private international law.
Through the GRS, students:
- Gain substantive expertise on the issue being studied
- Apply legal research in a real-world setting
- Engage meaningfully with international senior legal experts, practitioners, and faculty
- Develop highly-sought research, interview, analysis, and reporting skills
Fall 2019: Robot Revolution: Legal, Ethical and Policy Challenges of Robotics in the US and Japan
This innovative Global Research Seminar focused on the status of robot technology and development in the US and Japan and explored the rapidly evolving legal, ethical, and regulatory climate surrounding robotics. Students read cutting-edge scholarship on artificial intelligence and machine learning, studied state-of-the-art humanoid robots, examined robot-related litigation, and explored the range of legal and policy options for managing the inevitable (but often unknowable) conflicts of the robot revolution. In this nascent area of scholarship, students had the opportunity to do original research on unexplored topics and were able to publish their work.
Spring 2019: Intellectual Property Strategies for National Development: A Case Study of Current Issues in India
This Global Research Seminar introduced students to the most current intellectual property debates and controversies currently playing out in the Indian legal system. Over the course of the semester, class sessions examined five such issues: patent law and access to medicines; copyright law and educational access; geographical indications protection for indigenous manufacturing; the Indian approach to protecting traditional knowledge; and the protection of plant varieties and farmers’ rights. For each of these topics, discussions focused on the doctrinal issues involved, the unique institutional settings, and the success/failure of the attempted resolution.
2017-2018: Comparative Constitutional Law: Judicial Review in the United States and Japan
This seminar explored judicial review in the United States and Japan in order to understand how and why similar textual and structural designs in the two countries have led to different patterns of judicial practice. This comparative analysis questioned to what extent the American experience is the product of differences other than individual rights provisions and judicial review, and subsequently, how these differences may or may not be exportable to other countries.
Fall 2017: International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law: The Colombian Armed Conflict and the Peace Agreement This Global Research Seminar exposed students to the major concepts and complexities of two crucial arms of public international law: International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Criminal Law (ICL). The course examined the relationship between these branches of law and investigated how they influence contemporary violent conflicts, peacemaking, and transitional justice.
Students focused on such instruments as the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court, and the Protocol on the Participation of Children in Armed Conflict and institutions such as the International Criminal Court, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the United Nations. Special attention was given to understanding how international rules and institutions interact with local law and politics to influence the prospects for peace and justice in post-conflict settings.
The seminar focused primarily on Colombia, a nation transitioning to peace after experiencing one of the longest armed internal conflicts in the modern world.
Spring 2017: Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in Uganda
This seminar explored how Ugandan lawyers and legal institutions (bar associations, law schools, NGOs) organized to support advocacy aimed at expanding and enforcing economic, social, and cultural rights, particularly in the areas of education, property rights, and healthcare. Students examined the ways in which pro bono or public interest activities are approached by the Ugandan bar, as Uganda struggled to ameliorate the inadequate legal representation available to marginal economic and social groups in civil law contexts.
Particular attention was paid to Ugandans’ use of digital media to reach ordinary citizens in order to educate them regarding their economic, social, and cultural rights. The final product of the seminar was a documentary project that incorporated the students’ field-based research. The research trip to Uganda provided an opportunity for the Law School students to engage in visual scholarship.
2016-2017: Human Rights and Economic Development in Cuba
This research seminar provided an overview of Cuba’s legal system using key provisions of the Articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a framework. Students explored civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights in Cuba, comparing them to the United States.
The US-based class discussions laid the foundation for further on-site discussions in Cuba with in-country experts. In Cuba, students deepened their understanding of their research topics through discussion with experts, who shed light on the civil, political, economic social, and cultural rights against a backdrop of a developing country. Each student facilitated an in-class discussion on their topic, writing and presenting a research paper on an aspect of Cuban human rights or economic development.
2015-2016: Comparative Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation
This seminar provided students with the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge issues in corporate governance and financial regulation from a global perspective, sharing a common syllabus and joint sessions with seminar students at Goethe University in Frankfurt.
The seminar introduced students to US corporate governance and regulation, including key legal questions, institutional players, and capital market forces. The course also focused on comparative materials in Germany and the European Union and considered the strengths and weaknesses of different regulatory approaches as well as the extent to which these differences are the product of differences in business culture, corporate ownership, and market structure.
Students presented their joint work during the final seminar meeting in Frankfurt, traveling on to Brussels for a meeting with stakeholders and to engage in field research on EU corporate law and financial regulation.
2015-2016: Disasters and the Law
This Global Research Seminar used a comparative, interdisciplinary approach to the topic of law and disasters by exploring a variety of controversial legal and policy issues in the areas of disaster preparedness, emergency response, and victim compensation.
The first part of the course examined the intersection of law and disasters, particularly the legal responsibility to adequately prepare for disasters in federalized and centralized systems, the law, politics, and ethics of humanitarian disaster relief, government and/or private obligations to compensate for disaster victims, policies governing post-disaster recovery and rebuilding, and the international law of disasters. The course turned to an analysis of key case studies within and beyond the United States, including Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Three Mile Island (TMI) incident, the Sichuan earthquake, the Bhopal toxic accident, and the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster.
Students met with central figures in those cases – the lead human rights lawyer representing Bhopal victims, the judges and/or attorneys who presided over the TMI cases, public interest lawyers involved in Katrina litigation, government policymakers, and private sector leaders – as well as with senior officials from FEMA, the UN, state disaster response agencies, and other organizations. Students spent a week in Japan engaged in intensive field research with a particular focus on the causes and consequences of the 2011 Fukushima triple disaster.
2014-2015: Rising Powers: Power Shifts in International Law and Global Governance
The twentieth century saw the unprecedented emergence of an international legal order intended to govern all aspects of state relations from trade and finance, to human rights and governance, to health and environmental regulation. This ground-breaking Global Research Seminar examined the implications of power shifts on international law and global governance. The course focused on case studies of Brazil and China, with an emphasis on those areas where either of these powers challenged existing norms and practices or had been a source of significant potential cooperation or conflict with the United States.
2013-2014: Global Perspectives on Emerging Issues in Internet Law & Policy
The Internet has emerged as perhaps the most important driver of economic growth and innovation, with a vibrant debate emerged over which legal principles and policies best promote broadband deployment and entrepreneurship. This Global Research Seminar examined and compared the regulatory approaches taken in the US and other countries (placing primary emphasis on European countries), studying both the ways in which they have converged and the ways they have remained distinct.
In the process, the seminar introduced EU law, covering both the EU’s institutions and lawmaking process, of particular interest to students studying Internet policy, innovation, economic regulation, EU law, and the impact of different institutional structures (such as government ownership and federalism) on regulatory policy.
2012-2013: Private Law, Nation-building, and Economic Growth: A Comparison of U.S. and Indian Private Law
This Global Research Seminar examined the connection between different areas of private law and a nation’s realization of its social and economic objectives. The seminar analyzed multiple areas of Indian private law, including tort law, contract law, the law of property, the law relating to private remedies, the law of corporations, intellectual property law, and antitrust law. The class undertook a seven-day field visit to India during spring break. In New Delhi, the group met with Indian lawyers, judges, legislators, regulators, and scholars. These meetings allowed students to observe how mechanisms of private law work in actual practice.
Spring 2012: Islamic Finance and Investment in the International Markets
This Global Research Seminar explored contemporary Islamic finance from a transactional vantage, with emphasis on structuring financial transactions and products. Although Islamic finance represents the fastest-growing segment of the financial market, its growing importance as a source of capital largely ignored in Western universities.
The students spent seven days in Kuala Lumpur, where they met with the public and private sector entities who had designed, implemented, and oversaw the financial services products that shaped Islamic finance for decades to come. Since the earliest days of modern Islamic finance, Malaysia has played a leading role, its firms and regulators collaborating to develop the most progressive tools and build important bridges between conventional and Islamic investors.
Fall 2011: Comparative Internet Law in the US and European Union
This seminar took on a crucial and timely issue by comparing Internet policy in the US and the EU, where the US and Europe have historically taken widely divergent approaches to the regulation of communications technologies. The GRS compared the regulatory approaches taken in the US and Europe, studying both their emerging similarities and the key differences in intellectual commitments that tend to keep them distinct. As part of the seminar, students traveled to Washington, D.C., Germany, and Brussels to interview and do field research with policymakers, academics, government and non-governmental officials, corporate executives, and other stakeholders. This unique course was taught in parallel with a seminar at the Dresden University of Technology, with students from each institution collaborating on a final joint research project.
Spring 2011: Globalization of Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law: The US, Japan, and International Law Reforms
This seminar examined bankruptcy and insolvency laws from comparative and international/cross-border perspectives and focused primarily on international law reform projects undertaken in recent years. Matters covered during meetings included: basic principles of bankruptcy and insolvency law; particular statutory frameworks of the US and Japan; cross-border cooperation in insolvency cases; comparative legal analysis and the role of ‘legal culture’ in comparative analysis; with an emphasis on the U.S. and Japan.
The class conducted hands-on research during an eight-day field research visit to Tokyo over Spring break. While in Tokyo, students observed a symposium conducted by leading Japanese bankruptcy and insolvency law experts. The group held meetings and interviews with Japanese bankruptcy lawyers and other professionals, such as commercial and investment bankers, government regulators, judges, central bankers, and legal academics.
Spring 2010: Globalization of Corporate Governance: Italy and the European Union
This Global Research Seminar considered the foundations of contemporary corporate governance through an intensive study of Italian corporate governance and Italy’s place in the overarching structure of the European Union. During a 10-day visit to Rome and Milan over Spring break, students met with the Milan Stock Exchange, Consob (the Italian securities regulator), and other government and private sector experts. The principal work product for the class was a report commissioned by the Milan Stock Exchange.