Monday, June 29, 2009

New Course to be Offered in August: "Community Expectations in Natural Resource Development Projects"

Mining and oil and gas companies operating across the world understand that a key component of their success is tied to successfully managing “community expectations” in locations where they operate. Even where companies scrupulously comply with national law, they may find themselves in considerable difficulty where they have not achieved a “social license to operate” in the communities in which they work.

David Humphreys, chief economist for mining sector giant Rio Tinto, has observed, “[Mining] is a capital intensive industry and, generally, not a very profitable one, which can ill afford the delays, disruptions and other costs that are associated with poor community relations. At the same time, the benefits of managing community relations well prospectively confers competitive advantages on a company.”

As a consequence of the growing importance of managing community relations, the Sturm College of Law will offer “Community Expectations in Natural Resource Development Projects,” August 10-14, 2009. The course will be taught by Luke Danielson, former Director of the Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development Project at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, and the Mining Policy Research Initiative of the International Development Research Centre.

The objectives of the course, which will meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, are:

  • Understanding the strategic importance of successful community relations.
  • Creating a multi-disciplinary examination of community relations, including consideration of social, legal, and economic issues.
  • Analyzing the “tool box” of ideas and concepts available to successfully manage community relations.
  • Exploring how to avoid problems and what to do when community relations problems arise.
  • Understanding the role of law and lawyers in dealing with these issues.
  • Introducing students to a simulated community relations exercise.
The course is open to all DU JD, LLM, and MRLS students. It is also open to other professional and graduate students from other universities as well as the public more generally. Course tuition will be about $3,500.

Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program (ENRGP) at DU, said, “The growing importance of how companies successfully manage community relations cannot be understated. Many stakeholders – including communities, governments, financial institutions, NGOs, and shareholders – are more closely than ever before monitoring companies’ actions in this area. Consequently, the downside of poorly handling community relations can be disastrous. Mr. Danielson, who is recognized internationally as an expert in this field, will provide students a first-hand overview of this key, but often neglected component of natural resources development efforts.”

This three-credit one-week “short course” represents the ENRLP’s second of several offerings aimed at “non-traditional” LLM and MRLS students. This course in combination with another short course to be held Aug. 3-7, 2009, and several on-line offerings means that LLM and MRLS students can earn substantial credit in DU’s prestigious Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program without committing to a year of study in Denver. “This is a new step in our efforts to reach out to a world-wide community who can benefit from our program,” Lucy Daberkow, Assistant Director, said.

Individuals who would like to earn LLM or MRLS credit for the course should first seek admission to the ENRGP program by mid-July. Admissions information can be found by clicking here or by contacting Mr. Smith at or Ms. Daberkow at In addition, those who have general questions about the course should contact Mr. Smith or Ms. Daberkow.

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