Unit 1: A Human Rights Context For Global Justice
The purpose of this unit is to review some of the human rights discourse relevant for the study of global justice, or more to the point, justice in a global setting. This unit includes a brief overview of the 'rights' v. 'needs' discourse. In addition, you will examine three principal pairs of categorizations for human rights and the potential for tensions among them.
First, this unit will consider the most fundamental question to ask: are human rights universal or relative (particular) in the abstract and/or in practice? The idea of rights itself, and thereby justice, is universal; despite cultural and socio-political variants, rights and justice do exist. Second, your inquiry will turn to the pairing of individual and collective rights. Finally, you will study questions surrounding balancing and/or integrating economic, social, and cultural rights with civil and political rights. Another conceptual framework for exploring global justice emerges from the general understanding of political theory and philosophy being either western or non-western in nature. While these terms are a bit ethnocentric, and perhaps even pejorative, they nonetheless indicate the bifurcation of political thought as it pertains to human rights and associated matters of justice. Recognizing and examining this framework at the outset of the course is critical given that 'global' justice is our focal point of this course. As you work though the readings, keep in mind the central question of this course: how might you define, understand, and uphold justice in a global and globalizing world?
Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.