Monday, March 31, 2014

Experiential Learning Pt. 3: Working with The Sustainability Consortium

This is the third in a series of three posts about experiential learning opportunities for LL.M. students.

Sonia Sylls
In our last two posts on experiential learning opportunities for our LL.M. students, we featured students’ work with Walmart’s Legal Division and Allen Olson.  This week, we are featuring the project that Sonia Sylls is working on with The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) in Fayetteville.

TSC is an organization with hubs in Arkansas, Arizona, China, and the Netherlands that consists of diverse global participants that work collaboratively to build a scientific foundation that drives innovation to improve consumer product sustainability.  Through multi-stakeholder collaboration, TSC’s mission is to design and implement credible, transparent and scalable science-based measurement and reporting systems accessible for all producers, retailers, and users of consumer products.  The organization partners with many large and well-known companies, including Walmart, L’Oreal, Hanes, PepsiCo, McDonalds, General Mills, Tyson, and many more.

TSC helps build knowledge around critical sustainability issues using two main tools.  The first is the Category Sustainability Profile (CSP).  CSPs are collections of the best knowledge about the sustainability of a particular product from cradle to grave.  They identify pieces of the supply chain where products can better incorporate sustainability principles. 

The second tool is TSC’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI).  KPIs are questions about brand products designed to help retailers understand the sustainability of the products.  TSC has developed questions for different categories of products that focus on environmental and social issues.

This semester, Sonia is working under the supervision of Dr. Christy Melhart Slay, TSC Research Manager.  She is currently tasked with a social sustainability research project pertaining to animal welfare standards.  Sonia works closely with TSC’s Social Sustainability Researcher, Matthew Lyon, to identify animal welfare standards from more than 45 national and international organizations and certifications pertaining to livestock, poultry, and eggs.  This research will assist member companies and stakeholders in improving their understanding of the types of animal welfare standards included in various organization and certification programs.

Through the externship, Sonia has been afforded the opportunity to interact with TSC’s international research team through weekly team meetings and has met with some of TSC’s local member organizations.  She has found that TSC’s externship offers excellent exposure to the variety of professional application the study of agricultural and food law provides.  Sonia is the first LL.M. student to extern with TSC and is excited to lay a foundation for future externship opportunities between TSC and the LL.M. program. 

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