Stepan Wood named Canada Research Chair in Law, Society and Sustainability

Newly hired Allard School of Law Professor Stepan Wood has been named a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Law, Society and Sustainability as announced by the Government of Canada on Thursday, November 2.

To learn more about Wood, read the following profile which originally appeared in the 2017 Allard Alumni Magazine:


Professor Stepan Wood

Joining the Allard School of Law as a senior academic focusing on corporate social responsibility, sustainability, transnational governance and climate change, Stepan Wood has most recently held the appointment of York Research Chair in Environmental Law and Justice at the Osgoode Hall Law School, along with numerous visiting appointments across the globe—part of an impressive research network and an ambitious research agenda.

“The first visiting appointment I did was probably the weirdest,” he says, “because it was a virtual scholar in residence.” Wood was selected by the Law Commission of Canada in Ottawa to work virtually alongside the University of Toronto political economist Stephen Clarkson to study globalization and its impact on Canadian Law.

“It turned into one of the greatest collaborations that I’ve ever had,” he says. The partnership resulted in, among other things, their co-authored book, A Perilous Imbalance: The Globalization of Canadian Law and Governance. Published in 2010, it was shortlisted for the Donald Smiley Award for best book on Canadian politics.

“The visiting appointment that was the most life-changed on a personal level was the Jean Monnet fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence in 2010,” he says. He and his family moved to Italy for a year, his children were enrolled in the Italian public school system and by the time they left were fluent in Italian. While he wouldn’t describe himself as fluent, since then his leisure reading has almost exclusively been in Italian.

At Osgoode Hall, Wood was editor-in-chief of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, coordinator of the York University JD/Master in Environmental Studies joint program, founding co-director of Osgoode’s Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinical Program, and founding co-chair of the Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot. Wood has served in various capacities on the ISO Technical Committee 207, which is responsible for standardization in the field of environmental management systems and tools for sustainable development, and is the vice-chair of the national committee on environmental management systems standards in Canada.

Currently, Wood leads the interdisciplinary Transnational Business Governance Interactions (TBGI) project, an international research network that examines non-state or quasi-governmental initiatives that work to regulate the social, environmental and other potential negative aspects of global businesses.

“What we’re studying is how all these initiatives (for example fair trade labelling on coffee, or sustainable forestry highlighted on lumber) are interacting with each other and with official legal systems,” he explains. “We’re really interested in the dynamics of that interaction because it could have impacts on social and environmental conditions, workers’ rights, consumer protection, and so on.”

At the Allard School of Law, Wood is looking forward to pursuing his research at an institution with many interdisciplinary connections and strong support.