Last semester I took Legal Studies 224, entitled Human Rights and Globalization. I really recommend the class (the professor is brilliant and there’s a take home final!) and still think a lot about the issues raised by it. We talked about international law, transnational corporations, ngos, and governments and their roles in protecting human rights. We talked about how universal human rights really are and how much of it is imposing western values on other places. We talked about how corporations really occupy a quasi governmental role in lots of countries with political problems and how that can be used. We talked about triple bottom line accounting and how much social responsibility should affect business decisions. We separated human rights into generations, noticing how different societies valued different ones. We looked at disputed rights, like the right to water or the right to education around the world.
Something about that class clicked for me. It’s not that I had the answers to any of the questions, I just wanted to ask more. I wanted to think about these issues and what this world is going to look like in ten years. As our professor emphasized, none of these questions were decided. The debates and situations happening right now are setting the precedents for the next century. That’s a really rare and important time to be studying something like this. She also talked about the rise in jobs related to this (holla), such as a human rights advisor or a CSR expert. Human rights abuses quickly become PR disasters and profits are a pretty great motivator. I want to start posting some companies that I think have good or bad examples of corporate social responsibility I don’t know if there are other young j.crew fans who are interested in this, but if you’re out there, let me know. I would love to keep asking questions.