July 1, 2017

Course Information

Corporations and International Law: Global Governance and Human Rights
Spring 2018
Law 566B/History 590S.01
Fridays, 11.45-1.35
Rachel Brewster (Law) and Philip Stern (History)

From politics to popular culture, from the East India Company to WalMart, the corporation has become one of the most critical economic, political, and cultural institutions of the modern era.  It has also been one of the most controversial.  Are corporations people, societies, or even governments? Do they have rights? If so, what are their civic, social, ethical, and political responsibilities? Moreover, though they are born of varying forms of domestic law, many corporations have a global footprint and influence on our conceptions of sovereignty and governance, the functioning of international markets, the nature of interstate relations, wealth distribution, international development, and, at a basic level, the lives of people around the world. Yet modern international law has generally been understood to apply almost exclusively to states and to touch only lightly on corporate institutions, with profound consequences for everything from human rights to the global environment. We still lack the robust and extensive concepts and languages to comprehend their jurisdictionally ambiguous and spatially diffuse nature, as well as corporations’ relationships to individuals, states, and other non-state actors in a world filled with various independent or semi-independent political agents besides the nation-state.

Offered in conjunction with a Mellon Sawyer Seminar speakers’ series, this interdisciplinary course provides the unique opportunity for enrolled students to engage with a number of nationally and internationally-prominent visiting experts on these questions coming from across the humanities, social sciences, law, and business, as well as a diverse and integrated group of faculty and student participants. Topics will include the origins and development of the corporation and of international law; the impact of claims to corporate commercial rights and regulatory regimes on global legal frameworks; the capacity of corporations to act as forms of government over people and places, from colonial enterprises to contemporary multinationals; and the implications of all of these issues on concerns such as state formation, sovereignty, globalization, and environmental and human rights.

In Spring 2018, the course will focus on the theme of corporate power and human rights.  Previous participation in the fall course is not required.  Undergraduates, Graduate, and Professional School Students are all welcome in this course.

This course is funded and co-sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, the School of Law, the Center for International and Comparative Law, and the Department of History.

 


 

Corporations and International Law: Past, Present, and Future
Fall 2017
Law 566A/History 590S.02
Fridays, 11.45-1.35
Rachel Brewster (Law) and Philip Stern (History)

From politics to popular culture, from the East India Company to WalMart, the corporation has become one of the most critical economic, political, and cultural institutions of the modern era.  It has also been one of the most controversial.  Are corporations people, societies, or even governments? Do they have rights? If so, what are their civic, social, ethical, and political responsibilities? Moreover, though they are born of varying forms of domestic law, many corporations have a global footprint and influence on our conceptions of sovereignty and governance, the functioning of international markets, the nature of interstate relations, wealth distribution, international development, and, at a basic level, the lives of people around the world. Yet modern international law has generally been understood to apply almost exclusively to states and to touch only lightly on corporate institutions, with profound consequences for everything from human rights to the global environment. We still lack the robust and extensive concepts and languages to comprehend their jurisdictionally ambiguous and spatially diffuse nature, as well as corporations’ relationships to individuals, states, and other non-state actors in a world filled with various independent or semi-independent political agents besides the nation-state.

Offered in conjunction with a Mellon Sawyer Seminar speakers’ series, this interdisciplinary course provides the unique opportunity for enrolled students to engage with a number of nationally and internationally-prominent visiting experts on these questions coming from across the humanities, social sciences, law, and business, as well as a diverse and integrated group of faculty and student participants. Topics will include the origins and development of the corporation and of international law; the impact of claims to corporate commercial rights and regulatory regimes on global legal frameworks; the capacity of corporations to act as forms of government over people and places, from colonial enterprises to contemporary multinationals; and the implications of all of these issues on concerns such as state formation, sovereignty, globalization, and environmental and human rights.

This course is funded and co-sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, the School of Law, the Center for International and Comparative Law, and the Department of History.