ActivitiesTeaching and research
The Center is developing a core human rights curriculum for undergraduate and MBA students that will include both dedicated courses on business and human rights, as well as modules in other courses that will integrate human rights issues into the broader fabric of the business school. The first MBA and undergraduate courses will be offered in the fall of 2013.
On a parallel track, Center faculty and researchers are developing a program of research and writing to help shape the emerging field of business and human rights. The Center’s position in the business school will help drive a research agenda grounded in the practical realities of global corporations. The Center is examining workplace issues in the manufacturing supply chain, privacy and Internet freedom issues in the tech industry, and security practices in the extractive industries. In future years, the Center also will examine child and forced labor issues in the agricultural sector and the development of metrics for the social component of socially responsible investing.
2013 Course offerings:
- BPEP-UB 8 Undergraduate Senior Honors Seminar, Business and Political Economy Program (fall 2013)
- INTA-GB.3105-10A Seminar: Global Markets, Human Rights, and the Press (fall 2013)
When faced with human rights challenges, companies need a safe place to discuss the issues and learn from experts, advocates, and other companies. The Center will bring together diverse stakeholders to explore comprehensive and coordinated approaches to the most difficult human rights challenges. It will conduct private meetings with individual companies, small group meetings with different stakeholders, and public consultations. The Center’s identity is rooted in its experience brokering creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems in a principled, practical way.
Acting as a convener out of the public eye, the Center can help companies confer with their commercial competitors to explore best practices on human rights, learn from the experience of companies in other sectors, and provide expert advice on country conditions and how to benchmark human rights performance. It also will help like-minded governments that seek guidance on the role they should be playing with respect to these issues.
In September 2013, the Center held its first convening, which focused on workplace safety in Bangladesh. The meeting brought together senior government officials from Bangladesh, local manufacturers, senior officials from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association (BGMEA), and representatives of Bangladesh civil society and workers’ organizations to discuss workplace safety and the future of the garment industry in Bangladesh. Participants were joined by major U.S. and European retailers, several Western governments, key intergovernmental organizations, and outside experts. Based in part on comments and suggestions made at this meeting, the Center will produce a report on workplace safety in the context of building a sustainable garment sector in Bangladesh that continues to contribute to the country’s economic growth and protects the rights of workers who are at the heart of the industry. The Center will convene a follow-up meeting in Dhaka early in 2014. Read more.
Public education and advocacy
Greater public awareness and consumer engagement are catalysts of change; the Center will be a leading voice in shaping public attitudes about what companies can and should be doing to improve their human rights performance. Through speeches, op-eds, interviews, speaker series, and an active online presence, the Center will advocate from a perspective that taking action to respect human rights is the right thing to do, and that it is possible to do in a manner that makes business stronger and more competitive over the long term.