Law Students to Work on Sustainable Development in Madagascar

Three law students will be heading to Madagascar this spring to work on sustainable development projects ranging from a water purification system to rice production to innovative housing initiatives.

The projects are part of a course taught by Professor Judi McLean-Parks from the Olin Business School who collaborates each spring with David Deal, administrative director of the law school's Intellectual Property & Nonprofit Organizations Clinic, and Professor Frank Oros from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. The interdisciplinary course, The Madagascar Community Development Initiative, is offered in conjunction with the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG).

In addition to a classroom component, faculty and students travel to Madagascar for 10 days over spring break to work with members of the MBG Community Conservation Program. The group identifies and implements projects having an economic or community development benefit. The law students participating in the spring 2010 course are Mark Schwarz, Megan Koenig, and Tong Zhao.

Deal typically works with students searching expired United States patents for technical solutions to common problems such as power generation, water purification, or crop irrigation. Students are challenged to develop economically feasible solutions that can be implemented using locally available materials. This year’s group will focus on the introduction of a water purification system, a new strain of rice to improve agriculture, and sustainable housing strategies.

“This course enhances the legal representation currently provided by the Intellectual Property & Non-Profit Organizations Clinic to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s project and provides a great opportunity for law students to learn about intellectual property issues in a unique setting,” Deal said.