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263.2 sec. 1 - Business, Social Responsibility, and Human Rights (Fall 2011)
Instructor: Jamie O'Connell (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
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Meeting Time: MW 2:10-3:25
Meeting Location: 115
Course Start: August 24, 2011
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49787
This course addresses the emerging field of corporate social responsibility and human rights. Traditionally, international human rights norms have constrained the behavior only of states, not of private actors. Furthermore, the leaders of most U.S. corporations have viewed profit generation as their most important objective by far. However, a growing number of activists, academics, politicians, and businesspeople themselves believe that private, for-profit enterprises must respect at least some human rights and promote some social objectives, such as ending corruption or protecting the environment. Opinion on the extent and nature of these responsibilities varies widely, however, and some maintain the traditional view that businesses have none beyond the pursuit of profit.
We will explore both overarching questions and issues particular to certain industries or contexts. The former include whether businesses should devote attention to human rights issues, what legal and business considerations should guide them, and how much influence they have on social problems and human rights violations. We will examine the latter through case studies on such topics as:
--initiatives to mitigate the negative impact of natural resource wealth on developing countries (the "resource curse");
--collaboration between extractive companies and government security forces;
--problems of operating in war zones (e.g., "conflict diamonds");
--businesses' influence over government corruption; and
--policing subcontractors' compliance with labor rights.
The class's format will combine seminar-style discussion, lecturing, and occasional role-plays, small group exercises, and debates.
This course may satisfy the Writing Requirement.
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A reader will be used in this class.
Instructor has indicated that no books will be assigned.