Kevin Werbach

Kevin Werbach
  • Liem Sioe Liong/First Pacific Company Professor
  • Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics
  • Chairperson, Legal Studies and Business Ethics

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    673 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: Blockchain and digital assets, Internet policy, ethics of artificial intelligence, gamification

Links: CV, Personal Website, Kevin Werbach (@kwerb) on Twitter

Overview

Education

JD, Harvard University, 1994; BA, University of California at Berkeley, 1991

Recent Consulting

UBS (2022). Advising on strategic implications of blockchain and digital assets.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (2022). Advising on blockchain technology.

Central Intelligence Agency (2019). Training program on blockchain technology and applications.

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 2004-present

Other Positions

FCC Agency Review Co-Lead, Obama-Biden Transition Project (2008); Founder, Supernova Group, 2002-present; Editor, Release 1.0, 1998-2002; Counsel for New Technology Policy, Federal Communications Commission, 1994-1998

Professional Leadership 2017-2022

Fellow, Global Institute for Communications (GLOCOM), 2002-present; Editorial Board, Info: The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media, 2010-present; International Editorial Board, Ohio State Technology Law Journal, 2006-present; Editorial Board, Journal of Information Policy, 2010-present; Faculty Affiliate, Penn Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition, 2010-present; Faculty Affiliate, Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences (2013-present); Fellow, Columbia University Institute of Tele-Information (2016-present);  Faculty Affiliate, Ostrom Workshop, Indiana University (2019-present); Advisory Board, MIT Cryptocurrency Research Review (2019-present); Faculty Affiliate, Penn Program on Regulation (2020-present); Faculty Affiliate, Wharton AI for Business (2020-present); Expert Member, European Group on Blockchain Ethics (2021-present); Advisory Council, Blockchain for Europe (2021-present); Academic Advisory Body, International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (2019-present)

Corporate and Public Sector Leadership 2017-2022

Observing Member, Global Blockchain Business Council (2022-present); Testimony before the US Senate Agriculture Committee, Hearing on Examining Digital Assets: Risks, Regulation, and Innovation, February 9, 2022; Testimony before the US Congress Joint Economic Committee, Hearing on Demystifying Crypto: Digital Assets and the Role of Government, November 17, 2021; Board Member, Digital Health Engagement Institute (2021-present); Director, Public Knowledge (2011-2020; Treasurer, 2013-2020)

Continue Reading

Research

  • Legal, regulatory, and governance aspects of blockchain and cryptocurrencies
  • Regulation of emerging digital platforms and services
  • Ethical and legal implications of artificial intelligence and business analytics

Teaching

LGST 2420/6420: Big Data, Big Responsibilities

LGST 6120: Responsibility in Business

LGST 2440/6440: Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Current Courses (Fall 2022)

  • LGST6120 - Responsibility In Bus.

    This course introduces students to important ethical and legal challenges they will face as leaders in business. The course materials will be useful to students preparing for managerial positions that are likely to place them in advisory and/or agency roles owing duties to employers, clients, suppliers, and customers. Although coverage will vary depending on instructor, the focus of the course will be on developing skills in ethical and legal analyses that can assist managers as they make both individual-level and firm-level decisions about the responsible courses of action when duties, loyalties, rules, norms, and interests are in conflict. For example, the rules of insider trading may form the basis for lessons in some sections. Group assignments, role-plays, and case studies may, at the instructor's discretion, be used to help illustrate the basic theoretical frameworks. Course materials will highlight industry codes and professional norms, as well as the importance of personal and/or religious values.

    LGST6120006 ( Syllabus )

    LGST6120005 ( Syllabus )

    LGST6120702 ( Syllabus )

All Courses

  • LGST2220 - Internet Law Priv Cyber

    This course looks at how courts, legislatures, and regulators confront the major issues of the internet world. Billions of people are now active on social media, and firms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba are among the worlds most valuable and influential. The legal interfaces between the physical world and the digital world are therefore increasingly important. In particular, exploitation of personal information online by governments, digital platforms, and bad actors is becoming a constant source of major controversies. The material in the course ranges from the foundations of cyberlaw, developed during the e-commerce bubble of the 1990s, to current leading-edge questions around the power and responsibility of digital intermediaries; data protection in the U.S. and Europe; cybercrime;blockchain; and network neutrality. No pre-existing legal or technical knowledge is required.

  • LGST2420 - Big Data, Big Resp.

    Significant technologies always have unintended consequences, and their effects are never neutral. A World of ubiquitous data, subject to ever more sophisticated collection, aggregation, and analysis, creates massive opportunities for both financial gain and social good. It also creates dangers in areas such as privacy, security, discrimination, exploitation, and inequality, as well as simple hubris about the effectiveness of management by algorithm. Firms that anticipate the risks of these new practices will be best positioned to avoid missteps. This course introduces students to the legal, policy, and ethical dimensions of big data, predictive analytics, and related techniques. It then examines responses-both private and governmental-that may be employed to address these concerns.

  • LGST2440 - Blockchain/Cryptocurrenc

    Blockchain techonology is a form of decentralized database that allows for the secure exchange of value without reliance on trusted intermediaries. Blockchain is the foundation for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, as well as for distributed ledger platforms used by enterprise consortia in various industries. Many believe that blockchain solutions have revolutionary potential. They promise to replace legal enforcement with technical mechanisms of cryptographic consensus as the means of generating trust. The technology has generated significant excitement, investment, and entrepreneurial activity in recent years. However, the business value of blockchain-based solutions is uncertain, cryptocurrency valuations are speculative, and there are serious legal, regulatory, and governance challenges to be addressed. This course is designed to give students the tools for critical assessment of ongoing developments in this evolving area.

  • LGST2990 - Seminar in Law & Society

    A study of the nature, functions, and limits of law as an agency of societal policy. Each semester an area of substantive law is studied for the purpose of examining the relationship between legal norms developed and developing in the area and societal problems and needs. Please see department for current offerings.

  • LGST6110 - Resp in Global Mgmt

    This course uses the global business context to introduce students to important legal, ethical and cultural challenges they will face as business leaders. Cases and materials will address how business leaders, constrained by law and motivated to act responsibly in a global context, should analyze relevant variables to make wise decisions. Topics will include an introduction to the basic theoretical frameworks used in the analysis of ethical issues, such as right-based, consequentialist-based, and virtue-based reasoning, and conflicting interpretations of corporate responsibility. The course will include materials that introduce students to basic legal (common law vs. civil law) and normative (human rights) regimes at work in the global economy as well as sensitize them to the role of local cultural traditions in global business activity. Topics may also include such issues as comparative forms of corporate governance, bribery and corruption in global markets, human rights issues, diverse legal compliance systems, corporate responses to global poverty, global environmental responsibilities, and challenges arising when companies face conflicting ethical demands between home and local, host country mores. The pedagogy emphasizes globalized cases, exercises, and theoretical materials from the fields of legal studies, business ethics and social responsibility.

  • LGST6120 - Responsibility in Bus.

    This course introduces students to important ethical and legal challenges they will face as leaders in business. The course materials will be useful to students preparing for managerial positions that are likely to place them in advisory and/or agency roles owing duties to employers, clients, suppliers, and customers. Although coverage will vary depending on instructor, the focus of the course will be on developing skills in ethical and legal analyses that can assist managers as they make both individual-level and firm-level decisions about the responsible courses of action when duties, loyalties, rules, norms, and interests are in conflict. For example, the rules of insider trading may form the basis for lessons in some sections. Group assignments, role-plays, and case studies may, at the instructor's discretion, be used to help illustrate the basic theoretical frameworks. Course materials will highlight industry codes and professional norms, as well as the importance of personal and/or religious values.

  • LGST6420 - Big Data, Big Resp.

    Significant technologies always have unintended consequences, and their effects are never neutral. A world of ubiquitous data, subject to ever more sophisticated collection, aggregation, and analysis, creates massive opportunities for both financial gain and social good. It also creates dangers in areas such as privacy, security, discrimination, exploitation, and inequality, as well as simple hubris about the effectiveness of management by algorithm. Firms that anticipate the risks of these new practices will be best positioned to avoid missteps. This course introduces students to the legal, policy, and ethical dimensions of big data, predictive analytics, and related techniques. It then examines responses-both private and governmental-that may be employed to address these concerns.

  • LGST6440 - Blockchain/Cryptocurrenc

    Blockchain technology is a form of decentralized database that allows for the secure exchange of value without reliance on trusted intermediaries. Blockchain is the foundation for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, as well as for distributed ledger platforms used by enterprise consortia in various industries. Many believe that blockchain solutions have revolutionary potential. They promise to replace legal enforcement with technical mechanisms of cryptographic consensus as the means of generating trust. The technology has generated significant excitement, investment, and entrepreneurial activity in recent years. However, the business value of blockchain-based solutions is uncertain, cryptocurrency valuations are speculative, and there are serious legal, regulatory, and governance challenges to be addressed. This course is designed to give students the tools for critical assessment of ongoing developments in this evolving area.

  • LGST7990 - Seminar in Law & Society

    A study of the nature, functions, and limits of law as an agency of societal policy. Each semester an area of substantive law is studied for the purpose of examining the relationship between legal norms developed and developing in the area and societal problems and needs.

  • OIDD2220 - Internet Law Priv Cyber

    This course looks at how courts, legislatures, and regulators confront the major issues of the internet world. Billions of people are now active on social media, and firms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba are among the worlds most valuable and influential. The legal interfaces between the physical world and the digital world are therefore increasingly important. In particular, exploitation of personal information online by governments, digital platforms, and bad actors is becoming a constant source of major controversies. The material in the course ranges from the foundations of cyberlaw, developed during the e-commerce bubble of the 1990s, to current leading-edge questions around the power and responsibility of digital intermediaries; data protection in the U.S. and Europe; cybercrime;blockchain; and network neutrality. No pre-existing legal or technical knowledge is required.

  • PPE4998 - Directed Honors Research

    Student arranges with a Penn faculty member to do research and write a thesis on a suitable topic. For more information on honors visit: https://ppe.sas.upenn.edu/study/curriculum/honors-theses

Awards and Honors

Aspen Institute Ideas Worth Teaching Award (2021)

NESTA Decentralised Future Prize, First Place (2020)

UBRI Educator Award for Outstanding Blockchain Teacher (2020)

Academy of Legal Studies in Business, Ralph Bunche Award, Finalist (2020)

Gamification Summit, Special Achievement Award for Greatest Contributions to the Field of Gamification (2013)

American Academy in Berlin, Berlin Prize in Law (2011) (declined)

In the News

Knowledge at Wharton

Wharton Stories

Activity

Latest Research

Kevin Werbach and David Zaring (Forthcoming), Systemically Important Technology.
All Research

In the News

What the FTX Collapse Means for the Cryptocurrency Market

The rapid fall of FTX makes clear that better regulation is necessary to protect investors and reduce crime in the cryptocurrency market. Wharton’s Kevin Werbach, a longtime advocate of stronger oversight, explains why the path to regulation isn’t a straight line.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 11/22/2022
All News

Wharton Magazine

The Future of Business
Wharton Magazine - 10/22/2021

Wharton Stories

Steve Ballmer standing on a stage in front of an audience and talking. He is wearing a grey suit.Data for Government Transparency: Key Takeaways from Penn Wharton Budget Model’s First Policy Forum

On June 22, Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) hosted its first-ever Spring Policy Forum in the heart of U.S. policy reform. There, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., over 300 congressional staffers, Wharton alumni, business leaders, academics and media professionals gathered to engage with Wharton professors and other industry and…

Wharton Stories - 07/09/2018
All Stories