In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professors. This course will give students the opportunity to work with Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute (http://www.law.georgetown.edu/oneillinstitute/index.cfm) and its external partners in government and civil society to gain experience in using law to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Law is a key tool to reduce the prevalence of key NCD risk factors: tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets. Students will participate in a two-hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professors.
SEMINAR: In the seminar, students will explore the challenges and opportunities of using law to address risk factors that contribute to the rising prevalence of NCDs. The course will take a global approach grounded in international law, including international human rights law - the right to health, and World Health Organization (WHO) law and policy instruments, such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020. Further, case studies will explore a variety of best practice examples from jurisdictions spanning the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Latin American countries, including taxes to discourage consumption of unhealthy products, laws restricting advertising and promotion, and laws and policies to promote physically active lifestyles.
Students will be equipped with an understanding of specific issues, such as the role of law compared with policy, the strengths and weaknesses of different regulatory strategies and the role and responsibilities of the relevant industries in promoting the right to health. After exploring a series of foundational themes and issues through the first half of the semester, the remainder of the class will focus on in-depth case studies and experiences in regulating the risk factors (e.g., industry litigation challenging NCD-related laws, challenges in monitoring and evaluating the health impacts of NCD-related laws, and civil society’s role in NCD law-making). Students will also learn how to use epidemiological data to craft compelling arguments in support of adoption of NCD-related laws and policies and to defend these laws when challenged by industry. Class time will be devoted to developing practical advocacy and drafting skills to support students in their project work.
PROJECT WORK: Students will work with external partners of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health on legal and policy projects related to NCDs, law and human rights. For example, students may draft alternative reports to UN bodies analyzing compliance with human rights obligations related to tobacco control and unhealthy diets (e.g., “shadow reports”). A report such as this could analyze the prevailing legal frameworks in a particular country and highlight any weaknesses in the statutory and regulatory language. By working with the O’Neill Institute, Inter-Governmental Organizations (e.g., the Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization), and civil society organizations (e.g., Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Inter-American Heart Foundation), the course will give students the opportunity to use law to advocate for legal mechanisms to address critical health challenges.