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New book compiles the latest legal aspects of business sustainability

Jamison ColburnProfessors Jamison E. Colburn (left) and Daniel R. Cahoy (right) co-edited a new book compiling the viewpoints of eight different scholars exploring the legal aspects of sustainability and its impact on business strategies. Colburn, the Joseph H. Goldstein Faculty Scholar, and Cahoy, Dean’s Faculty Fellow in Business Law, published “Law and the Transition to Business Sustainability (Perspectives on Sustainable Growth)” in July after a joint symposium held at Penn State Law School and Smeal College of Business this past fall.

The book is “a kind of fitness check of sustainability as a regulatory program and as a set of corporate practices,” they write. “But our deeper ambition was to assemble a team of people handling sustainability in different quarters and with different tools – some not even explicitly or expressly concerned with sustainability as such – so as to tease out some of the commonalities of inquiry and insight in this fast evolving field.”

The forum, and now book, brings together scholars from intellectual property, energy, government regulation environmental law and energy, who recognize that firms must adopt an integrated approach to law and sustainability. The book focuses on the increasing awareness among businesses of the decline of energy resources and their own environmental impact and the need to employ sustainable practices. The scholarly perspectives include examples of sustainable business practice and the importance of law and regulation in supporting the transition to more sustainable business practices. 

Chapters in the book include “Mandating Sustainability” focusing on federal legislation, “Subsidizing Sustainability” examining the state’s role, and “The Benefits of a Sustainable Energy Trade Agreement.”

According to Cahoy and Colburn, “The chapters in this book push beyond the traditional boundaries separating these dimensions of law, business and sustainability to offer both practical insights and directions for future research.  We hope it will serve as a useful tool for scholars, policymakers and business leaders.”

Professor Jamison Colburn is a scholar of environmental law and policy. Prior to teaching, Professor Colburn was an enforcement litigator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a collaborating researcher with the Project on Public Problem Solving at Columbia University, which studied the collaborative roles played by local and regional grassroots organizations. Professor Colburn is a member of the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the Society for Conservation Biology, has served as a trustee of the Connecticut River Watershed Council, and is a past vice chair of the Separation of Powers Committee in the ABA Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

Professor Daniel Cahoy specializes in the study of intellectual property law, as well as related issues in technology management. A professor of business law in the Smeal College of Business, he is a registered patent attorney and has published numerous articles in academic law journals on topics such as IP and alternative energy policy, FDA regulatory policy, reforming the U.S. patent system and the intersection of business and human rights. He is a former editor in chief of the peer-reviewed American Business Law Journal and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business.

The book was published in July 2014 by Springer.


Vanessa McLaughlin
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