Course Descriptions

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS (2 credits)Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

This course is an introduction to the law of international trade and finance. Students consider the problems of conducting business in the global community. The approach is primarily transactional and combines the legal theory and practice of doing international business. Topics include the formation of agreements required for the international trading of goods, such as the documentary sale, the letter of credit, the contract of sale and the consequences of wars and other frustrations of contract, and the bill of lading or sale without a letter of credit. Students will study the regulation of international business by import and export controls, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and customs classification and valuation. The transfer of technology by means of franchising and licensing agreements leads to a discussion of the pirating of intellectual property. Students will study the legal framework for establishing a foreign direct investment abroad or a joint venture. Other topics include the resolution of international disputes by trial or international arbitration, the role of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO, TRIPS, NAFTA, China, and the European Union in regulating international business. This course focuses on the cultural differences that influence the establishment of international business ventures.


The first part of this course will cover the different concepts of the rule of law around the world, the historical and psychological origins of these concepts, and various tests of governments’ compliance with the rule of law utilized by governments, international organizations, and private entities.  Given the positive relationship between economic development and the rule of law, numerous governments and international organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, are investing heavily in rule of law projects, and the course will include a review of such projects.  When Chinese President Xi Jinping was Governor (2002) and Communist Party Secretary (2002-2007) of Zhejiang Province, he helped launch several innovative rule of law projects in Zhejiang Province, and students will have the opportunity to study these projects in some depth.  Finally, the course will review the specific judicial transparency projects in Zhejiang Province on which Professor Qian Hongdao and I have worked.


Professor Aaron Schwabach

Environmental problems are international, often global, in scope. Oceans, aquifers, watercourses, and, of course, the atmosphere are not restricted by political boundaries; pollution crosses easily from one state to another. Resource depletion may harm the interests of all states, as in the case of fisheries. Loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat, even when it occurs entirely within the boundaries of a single state, affects the interests of all of the world's peoples. This course serves as an introduction to international environmental law.  The course will give an overview of several areas of conventional and customary law affecting the international environment, including international environmental agreements and "soft law" documents, the role of international organizations, the practice of states, and, where appropriate, U.S. law. Particular attention will be paid to the interaction between domestic and international environmental laws, and to the ways in which the legal process has solved (or failed to solve) international environmental problems.

CHINESE LEGAL SYSTEM AND ITS REFORMS (2 credits)Professors Yongxin Song, Hongdao Qian, Leslie Kuan-Hsi Wang, and Jun Zhao

This is an introduction to the Chinese legal system taught within the framework of the twenty-eight year economic reform that has brought dramatic change to the Chinese economy and to the lives of the Chinese people. Students will learn about recent legal reforms in intellectual property legislation and in several other areas of the law. This course is team-taught in English by four distinguished Chinese professors of law from Zhejiang University Guanghua School of Law. No prerequisites are needed for this course.