Changes in information technology, in combination with changing popular and political opinion (including concern over climate change) are moving the subject of corporate social responsibility ('CSR') to the forefront of policy reform, consumer and investor behavior, and graduate business education. Nevertheless, up to the present, CSR has not thrived within law schools’ curricula, or mainstream graduate or undergraduate programs. First, the subject is too synthetic to fit neatly within the core, established framework of academic subject areas (e.g. history, economics, sociology and management), or law schools’ conventional teaching of corporate, securities, employment, administrative, or environmental law. CSR is relevant to all these areas but has not become central in any one of them. This essay charts the intellectual history of CSR and explains how the traditional corporations and securities regulation courses have marginalized the study of CSR. It suggests ways these courses could be expanded to address CSR issues and contends that law schools will be falling behind if they do not prepare future corporate lawyers to do so. The global nature of modern commerce and financial markets, and the greater accountability facilitated by the internet, will ensure continued, widespread interest in CSR subjects. The Appendix presents my Congressional testimony in favor of the Extractive Industries Transparency and Disclosure Act – an act which raises fundamental CSR issues which could be explored in law and business schools, as well as in graduate programs in political science and economics, inter alia.
53 N.Y. L. Sch. L. Rev. 817 (2008-2009)