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Within the new course ‘Sustainable Development and International Law’ students wrote policy briefs to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Dr. Joerg Weber, Head of the Investment Policies Branch at UNCTAD.

It was an intense day for the students as well as for the lecturers. But after 9 hours of working through a design thinking pressure cooker with Rosanne van Wieringen from the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies – it was done. Thirteen policy briefs had emerged proposing a variety of new ideas including a board on agricultural trade to liaise between the WTO and UNCTAD, and a multilevel forum for youth unemployment. 

It was one of the first experiments in developing and implementing a hackathon or pressure-cooker within the Law School. The idea was to connect the in-depth understanding of the different international legal fields informing sustainable development taught and discussed in the lectures to a hands-on experience of proposing solutions. Beside the many interesting insights about the institutional possibilities and limitations of UNCTAD, students experienced the liberating and constraining effects of working through design phases and ultimately had a true sense of community and shared experience, albeit virtual.

The course 'International Law and Sustainable Development' was developed by Professor Ingo Venzke and Dr Andrea Leiter and was offered for the first time this academic year.