• Unit 4: Empowerment, Agency, and Global Justice: Revisiting the Universal-Relative Debate

    One of the assumptions underlying much of the preceding material is that the individuals subject to considerations of justice are rational actors capable of decision-making in a societal context. Implicit in this assumption is that the individuals in question are either empowered or are capable of seeking empowerment; that is, they are capable of engaging in self-advocacy. However, in reality a significant number of individuals do not find themselves in such circumstances. It is incumbent upon us to consider questions of global justice, in particular distributive justice, in light of the most disempowered segment of any society: children.

    This unit, the first in the course to address issues of applied global justice, examines two key contexts for children: marriage and armed conflict. Concurrently, the notion of advocacy, and more importantly its converse, voicelessness, can be considered in light of environmental issues as well. Therefore, this unit will also consider distributive justice with respect to resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and waste distribution. The nexus of these two apparently disparate topics (advocacy for children and for the environment) is crystallized in the question: how meaningful are the debates surrounding global justice in light of the realities of those who lack access to any form of justice?

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.