263.2 sec. 1 - Business, Social Responsibility, and Human Rights (Fall 2013)
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 21, 2013
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 50609
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:
--collaboration between extractive companies and government security forces;
--problems of operating in war zones (e.g., "conflict diamonds");
--internet companies' role government efforts to control access to controversial online content (such as offensive speech and political dissent); and
--garment industry efforts to police subcontractors' compliance with labor rights.
The class's format will combine seminar-style discussion, lecturing, and occasional role-plays, small group exercises, and debates.
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A reader will be used in this class.
Required Books are in blue
- King Leopold's ghost
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Copyright Date: To Be Determined
Price Source: blackwell