Integrating Sustainable Development Awareness in Intellectual Property Law Education

18 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2021

Date Written: July 31, 2021


Since 2016, education for sustainability is a strategic priority across most Universities in the UK and around the world. Higher education institutions are committed to working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and integrating social, environmental and economic themes into the curriculum, learning and teaching materials. Intellectual property (IP) rights are thought to incentivize innovation and creativity, which in turn supports the success of the majority of SDGs. However, the role of IP rights in effective sustainability transitions remains insufficiently understood and even appears to be missing from the curricula. An 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 and a new topic that should have a place in the IP syllabus. This chapter will enable IP educators to consider the theoretical underpinnings for sustainable development theory and the rationale for integrating an awareness of sustainability and the UN 2030 SDGs into postgraduate Masters level intellectual property law teaching. As the participation of developing countries in the globalization of R&D and technology is uneven, this chapter shares a learning activity involving the use of the WIPO IP Innovation Index 2020. 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.

Keywords: : Intellectual property rights, innovation, learning, SDGs, sustainability, teaching United Nations Sustainable Development Goals[comma separated]

Suggested Citation

Denoncourt, Janice, Integrating Sustainable Development Awareness in Intellectual Property Law Education (July 31, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Janice Denoncourt (Contact Author)

Nottingham Law School ( email )

Belgrave Centre
Chauser Street
Nottingham, NG1 5LP
United Kingdom

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