Penn State Law launches clinic focused on international development

The new International Sustainable Development Law Clinic gives Penn State Law students the chance to join University colleagues from a wide range of disciplines who are working to develop, design and implement humanitarian projects and social ventures in the developing world.

"This is the first clinic of its kind," said Jeff Erickson, who will serve as director of the clinic and supervise law students and those earning joint degrees with the School of International Affairs. He said the law students, who will collaborate with interdisciplinary teams brought together by Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program (HESE), will build the legal skills necessary to bring sustainable new ventures to market in an international environment. "Students will gain practical experience working effectively in a multi-disciplinary setting and with legal mentors from the clients’ countries," he said.

The clinic supports the goals of the HESE Program, which are to develop technology-based solutions to compelling problems facing developing countries and transform these solutions into sustainable and scalable ventures that enable positive social change. Projects have taken HESE teams to Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nicaragua and El Salvador, to implement and refine projects ranging from telemedicine technology to biogas digesters. Clinic students will specifically be responsible for identifying and evaluating potential legal obstacles to implementation of innovations, advising stakeholders and facilitating solutions.

The new clinic will provide additional practice opportunities for Penn State Law students studying international and transnational law as well as students interested in public interest and international development work.

“Penn State is uniquely able to offer the type of interdisciplinary experience afforded by the International Sustainable Development Law Clinic,” said Dean Philip J. McConnaughay. “The College of Engineering, the Smeal College of Business, and Penn State Law are among the best programs of their kind in the country, and this type of practical integration will lead to experiences and outcomes that could not be envisioned by each discipline alone.”

According to Khanjan Mehta, Director of the HESE Program, “This collaboration adds a new and exciting dimension to the transdisciplinary student experience at HESE. All the ventures will directly benefit from the legal expertise contributed by the law students and faculty.”

To read more about the clinic, visit online.

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Last Updated July 22, 2015