2022 Fall - CML4112D - Interdisciplinary Studies in Law (Class Number: 9192)

Technology, Human Rights, and Cyber-Security

Professor(s): Vivek Hariharan Krishnamurthy
Language: English
Units: 3
Level: Upper year

Class Schedule

2022 Fall
(September 07 - December 07)
SEMTue 08:30 - 11:20FTX413


Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property

As its first objective, this seminar is designed to explore the legal landscape over the uses or applications of Indigenous knowledge in the context of innovations in food, agriculture, medicines, environmental control (including climate change) and life sciences in general. These are some of the sites that animate tension between intellectual property and Indigenous knowledge. The seminar also explores contemporary policy responses to those tensions with special interest in the notion of ‘Access and Benefit Sharing’ (ABS) over genetic resources and associated Indigenous knowledge. Overall, students are introduced and supported to explore the various contexts for the use(s) of the knowledge of Indigenous peoples and local communities relating to genetic resources (plants, animals, and other biological materials), as well as to explore aspects of Aboriginal environmental stewardship and biodiversity conservation relevant to biotechnology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, food, agriculture, beverages, cosmetics, health, personal care products and related industries and various forms of research and development.

As a second objective, the seminar enables students to explore the international and domestic legal and policy spaces with case studies for negotiating intellectual property and access to genetic resources and associated Indigenous knowledge. Regard is given to for issues of fairness, justice, and equity for Indigenous peoples, industries/corporations, researchers, and all stakeholders. In doing this, students are exposed to workings of relevant institutional fora where policies around Indigenous knowledge, intellectual property and access and benefit sharing are negotiated. Those include the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The third objective of the seminar is to assist students in understanding the intersection of various complementary and competing legal regimes, including Indigenous legal traditions, intellectual property, environmental and even constitutional laws around the subject of Indigenous knowledge in the life sciences. There is a potential to explore the impact of access and benefit sharing over genetic resources and Indigenous knowledge in Canada with consideration for reconciliation.

Altogether, the seminar will enable students to acquire insightful perspectives, in ways that will shape their professional and career interests across a broad spectrum of specialties: Indigenous Knowledge, Intellectual Property, Aboriginal Relations, Biodiversity Conservation & Environmental Law, International Law and Institutions, Global Knowledge Governance, etc.

Teaching Method:


Additional information on the teaching method delivered in this class:

This course covers a range of topics intersecting Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property delivered in a participatory and discursive seminar format. Meetings are held at scheduled times by distance synchronously (with instructor and students interacting at the same time) online via zoom or other approved platforms. Preparatory and study materials of various modules are delivered/uploaded asynchronously on Brightspace before or after meetings as may be necessary. The meetings involve guided, critical, open, and generally informal discussions of reading and other seminar materials covering various issues at the intersections of Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property from different stakeholder perspectives and their consequential legal and policy ramifications. Attendance and participation are recorded as components of the final grade. Participation involves both engagement in live discussions as far as reasonably possible in the synchronous sessions as well as performance of assigned tasks incidental to membership of the class even if asynchronously. As part of synchronous or live participation, students are informed before online meeting of any assigned roles such as leading discussion or articulating specific sectoral perspective (e.g. Aboriginal, government, industry, etc.) which they are expected to prepare and contribute to the live seminar discussions.

Additional Requirements or Recommendations:

Students who have previously taken CML1105F should contact the instructor for approval before enrollment in the seminar.

Materials Used:

Students have free access to the open access edition of our reference reading material: Chidi Oguamanam, ed, Genetic Resources, Justice and Reconciliation: Canada and Global Access and Benefit Sharing (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018). A comprehensive course outline will provide most of the required readings for the seminar with details of designated readings for every meeting. Additional or supplementary reading, or any other material that may be relevant to any student’s specific research interest, may be assigned or periodically made available by e-mail or via Brightspace under “Resource Folder”. Effort will be made to provide hyperlinks to most of the resource materials for the seminar. Students are encouraged to source other materials electronically.

Method of Evaluation


Other Type of Evaluation:

The seminar has the following evaluation components:

1) Final research paper of 20 pages (including footnotes in 10pt font, excluding bibliography), in double-spaced 12pt Ariel font, on a self-selected and pre-approved topic (40%);
2) Tentative abstract and outline of the final research paper, including working title of no more than two double-spaced pages (10%);
3) Class attendance and participation (30%); and
4) Short blog or perspective essay on pre-approved but self-selected issue within the scope of the seminar 7-10 pages (double spaced) with reference/hyperlinks (20%)


Final Exams:

Exam type: None

Restricted material for open book exam: N/A

Exam duration: N/A


Method of evaluation for graduate students:

Graduate students enrolled in this seminar will be evaluated on attendance and participation (30%) like all students, but they will be required to write a final research paper of not more than 40 pages (double spaced) on a pre-approved topic. The essay will constitute 70% of the grade.