Policy Practicum: What If California Had a Foreign Policy?


Course Code:
LAW 805W
2 - 3
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


The Trump presidency has already brought about considerable shifts in U.S. foreign policy and many more changes are on the horizon. Foreign affairs has traditionally been viewed as a particular province of the federal government, with states limited in their abilities to negotiate with other governments through explicit federal constitutional provisions like the Foreign Commerce Clause and the Treaty Clause and more amorphous but also comprehensive powers like federal foreign affairs preemption. Nevertheless, in recent years, federalism has extended into the sphere of foreign affairs, with states and localities engaging foreign governments and exerting influence on international issues; in the environmental arena alone, a number of states and cities played a role around the negotiations of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and California has entered into a cap-and-trade agreement with Québec. This policy lab is designed to explore the possibilities for more active involvement of sub-national actors on issues of major international concern. Building on the efforts of California and other states, counties, and cities, we will actively consider possibilities of international leadership in diverse areas including the environment, human rights, and anti-corruption. Students in the policy lab will work on one of three projects. One project will entail working with the California Governor's Office to explore opportunities for international leadership on climate change. A second will focus on the Enough Project's efforts to develop a strategy for using state-level regulation of financial markets to address human rights abuses and kleptocracy. The final project will partner with Santa Clara County and the Open Government Partnership to create a pathway for cities, counties, and states to demonstrate leadership on transparency and anti-corruption issues globally. Because of the nature of the issues involved in some of these projects, students will be asked to work within a context of attorney-client privilege. The seminar will meet most weeks of the quarter; the first several sessions will set up the general concerns of international relations and constitutional law that will undergird the various project streams, and the remaining sessions will entail group feedback on the work being undertaken by the teams working on the three projects. Students working on each team will write a memo on a particular research question, which will then be integrated with the products of the other individuals on that team to furnish an answer to a specific question posed at the outset by the California Governor's Office, Santa Clara County, or the Enough Project. During the second half of the quarter, class meetings will be devoted to presentations by one of the research teams to the rest of the participants, who will provide feedback on their work product in anticipation of further revisions, which the members of the relevant team will then complete. After the term begins, students accepted into the course can transfer from section 01 (two units) into section 02 (three units), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor. Elements used in grading: Attendance, Performance, Class Participation, Written Assignments, Final Paper. NOTE: Students may not count more than a combined total of eight units of directed research projects and policy lab practica toward graduation unless the additional counted units are approved in advance by the Petitions Committee. Such approval will be granted only for good cause shown. Even in the case of a successful petition for additional units, a student cannot receive a letter grade for more than eight units of independent research (Policy Lab practicum, Directed Research, Senior Thesis, and/or Research Track). Any units taken in excess of eight will be graded on a mandatory pass basis. For detailed information, see "Directed Research/Policy Labs" in the SLS Student Handbook. CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and submit a Consent Application Form available on the SLS website (Click Courses at the bottom of the homepage and then click Consent of Instructor Forms). See Consent Application Form for instructions and submission deadline.

Past Offerings

2016-2017 Spring

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