Centre for Legal Education

Intellectual property education leading to a solid understanding and competent use of IP rights is imperative for unlocking innovation and accelerating diffusion processes to shape sustainability transitions on a global scale. Integrating sustainability awareness into the IP law education is highly relevant to the current higher education landscape. As a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) contributes to the 19 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing concrete services to its member states, enabling them to use the IP system to drive the innovation, competitiveness and creativity needed to achieve these goals. Thus, integrating sustainability awareness into the IP law education is highly relevant to the shifting contours of the current higher education landscape at the national and international levels.

Dr Denoncourt addresses these themes in her new work, ‘Integrating Sustainable Development Awareness in Intellectual Property Law Education’ (2021).

A longstanding Module Leader on Nottingham Law School’s LLM Intellectual Property law programme (Intellectual Property Law LLM Postgraduate taught Course | Nottingham Trent University), Dr Denoncourt aims to assist IP law educators to reflect on both the theoretical underpinnings for sustainable development theory as well as the rationale for integrating an awareness of sustainability and the UN 2030 SDGs into postgraduate Masters level IP law teaching.

Janice is keenly aware that the participation of developing countries in the globalization of R&D and technology is uneven. To this end she has devised a new IP education learning activity involving the use of the Word Intellectual Property Organization’s IP Innovation Index 2021.

The WIPO IP Innovation Index ranks the performance of national economies each year, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each country’s innovation ecosystem. Two key questions are the focus of the learning activity:

1. Economic Growth or Sustainable Development?

The aim is to enhance student’s critical thinking and active learning as to how the IP rights framework affects innovation across the world. In particular, the learning activity created focuses on UN Sustainable Development Goal 9 Innovation, Industry and Infrastructure from the perspective of developed, BRIC and developing countries to critically discuss the question: Economic Growth or Sustainable Development?

2. A new paradigm: IP embracing sustainable development

Dr Denoncourt’s transdisciplinary approach highlight a new connection between IP rights, innovation, creativity, economics, society and the global environment. She advocates that education concerning the global IP rights legal framework needs to ensure our students are equipped to participate in ongoing dialogue and vigorous debate regarding how best to achieve sustainable economic development. The dialogue concerns the important question ‘how best to grow sustainably?’ It also concerns questions regarding the relationship between IP rights and global welfare and stakeholders, not just the rights of IP creators and owners.

The complete paper ‘Integrating Sustainable Development Awareness in Intellectual Property Law Education’ (2021) is available online here.

Associate Professor Janice Denoncourt is a Director of the London-based Think Tank, the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN)

IPAN brings together organisations and individuals drawn from business, commerce, education and the IP professions in the UK, all committed to championing the importance and understanding of IP as a vital ingredient for innovation and success of businesses, large and small. IPAN is constituted as a not-for-profit, membership organisation, independent of any sector lobbying group, and committed to the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion in all our activities. Since May 2020, Dr Denoncourt has been a Director and member of the Education Group and the Business & Finance Group. She qualified as a Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Committee in 2017.