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POLSC411: International Political Economy

Unit 5: Human Rights and Basic Needs   While some insist that globalization has lifted millions of people out of poverty, others draw attention to the darker aspects of globalization, such as the exploitation of laborers in poor countries and the degradation of the environment.  Some also worry that globalization has continued to widen the gap between rich and poor countries.  Individuals may not benefit from increased economic opportunity if they live in a country with high levels of corruption or weak institutions; wealth may go directly to the pockets of officials rather than into domestic investments capable of improving the livelihood of the population.  Political scientists seek to address human rights, a set of standards each individual is entitled to.  In this unit, we will discuss the issues and controversies surrounding globalization, human rights, and economic development.  We will also address specific case studies.

Unit 5 Time Advisory
This unit should take you 17.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 5.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 5.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 5.4: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.5: 4.5 hours

☐    Assessment: 1.5 hours

Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Compare and contrast approaches to human rights and access to basic human needs. - Describe and analyze patterns of income distribution and their changes over time. - Evaluate the effectiveness of the international human rights system.

5.1 Global Inequality   - Reading: Glasshouse Forum: Kay Glans and Johanna Laurin’s “Towards an Hourglass Society? Income Differentials and the Fate of the Middle Class.” Link:  Glasshouse Forum: Kay Glans and Johanna Laurin’s “Towards an Hourglass Society? Income Differentials and the Fate of the Middle Class” (PDF)
 
Instructions:  Scroll down the webpage until you locate the article “Towards an Hourglass Society? Income Differentials and the Fate of the Middle Class.”  Click on the pink image of the article’s cover to download the PDF file.  This is an Adobe Acrobat file that requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded free at Adobe’s site.  Read the entire work (75 pages). The economic and political gains from globalization have not been distributed equally.  As the world comes closer together, some nations and peoples have not fully participated in rising standards of living and may have suffered negative consequences from transnational policies.  In this section, we will quantify how globalization has contributed to inequality. Think about how the authors use statistics to demonstrate how income is distributed.   Do you think income inequality has gotten more extreme since this was written?
 
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  • Lecture: iTunes U: Stanford University: Bruce Western and Robert Frank’s “Income Inequality” Link: iTunes U: Stanford University: Bruce Western and Robert Frank’s “Income Inequality” (iTunes U)
     
    Instructions: Click on the “View in iTunes” hyperlink for lecture 3 titled “Income Inequality” to download the podcast for free.  Listen to the entire lecture (70 minutes).  This is a debate about the causes and reasons of heightening inequality.  Do you expect these factors to change?
     
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5.2 Human Rights and Basic Needs   - Reading: Georgetown University Press: George Kent’s “Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food,” “Introduction and Chapters 1 to 3” Link: Georgetown University Press: George Kent’s “Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food,” “Introduction and Chapters 1 to 3” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Click on the “PDF of Book” hyperlink in the upper left corner of the webpage under “Explore this title” to download the text.  This is an Adobe Acrobat file that requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded free at Adobe’s site.  Note:  Look for the link “PDF of Book.” Read the Introduction and Chapters 1 to 3 (pages 1-59).  The world is a mix of cultures, and the standard of what constitutes fair and equitable treatment varies from country to country.  There are innumerable ways of parsing human rights questions; gender, religion, sexual orientation, economic systems, and race are just a handful of examples.  This section is an introduction to how human rights relate to basic needs. Think about how human rights relate to the basic needs of society.  Note how the author uses statistics to make his points.  Study the basic human rights organizational bodies.
 
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  • Lecture: iTunes U: Public Radio International’s “Global Guidelines for Social Responsibility” Link: iTunes U: Public Radio International’s “Global Guidelines for Social Responsibility” (iTunes U)
     
    Also available in:
    Mp3
     
    Instructions:  Scroll down to item 13, and click on “View in iTunes” to download the “Global Guidelines for Social Responsibility” podcast.  Listen to the entire interview (5 minutes).  This conversation explores voluntary ethical standards for international businesses.  Think about the reasons why and why not these standards might be adopted.
     
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5.3 Globalization, Growth, Poverty and Resentment   - Web Media: YouTube: The Watson Institute at Brown University’s “Mark Blyth on Austerity” Link: YouTube: The Watson Institute at Brown University’s “Mark Blyth on Austerity”(YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch the YouTube video of Professor Mark Blyth speaking on austerity as a reaction to the global economic crisis.  Think about how austerity may be used as both a tool and a weapon to fight not just economic crises but also the arbiters of the international financial regimes.
 
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  • Reading: The Boston Review: Nancy Birdsall’s “Inequality Matters: Why globalization doesn't lift all boats” Link: The Boston Review: Nancy Birdsall’s “Inequality Matters: Why globalization doesn't lift all boats” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the above piece by Nancy Birdsall, the director of the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.  Think about the effects of globalization on income inequality, and what might be done about such processes.
     
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  • Web Media: YouTube: Center for Global Development: Nancy Birdsall’s “Globalization and Inequality” Link: YouTube: Center for Global Development: Nancy Birdsall’s “Globalization and Inequality” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch the video by Nancy Birdsall, Director of the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.  Think about how she poses the choices of globalization, and whether globalization necessarily produces income inequality.
     
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5.4 The Human Rights System   - Reading: Georgetown University Press: George Kent’s “Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food,” “Chapters 4 to 7” Link: Georgetown University Press: George Kent’s “Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food,” “Chapters 4 to 7” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Click on the “PDF of Book” hyperlink under “Explore this title” on the left side of the webpage to download “Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food.” This is an Adobe Acrobat file that requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded free at Adobe’s site.  Read Chapters 4 to 7 (pages 63-142).  We have established the importance of human rights and how individuals are perceived.  An international human rights system exists to address concerns and seek solutions.  The human rights system does not enjoy global agreement about what constitutes a fair standard of treatment and access to life’s necessities.  For example, in one country access to affordable health care by all may be a bedrock principle, while in another a free market system may be used to allocate health care. Think about how the author links the various concepts of law, governance, entitlements, economic rights, and accountability.
 
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  • Lecture: iTunes U: The Brookings Institution's "The United Nations Human Rights System: What Works at the National Level" Link: iTunes U:  The Brookings Institution's "The United Nations Human Rights System: What Works at the National Level" (iTunes U)
     
    Also available in:
    Mp3, PDF
     
    Instructions:  Scroll down to item 91, and click on “View in iTunes” to download the “The United Nations Human Rights System: What Works at the National Level” podcast.  Listen to this entire lecture (89 minutes) about how the network of human rights experts functions at the UN Human Rights Council and their impact on national actors.
     
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5.5 Case Studies   - Reading: Georgetown University Press: George Kent’s “Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food,” “Chapters 8 to 17” Link: Georgetown University Press: George Kent’s “Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food,” “Chapters 8 to 17” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Click on the “PDF of Book” hyperlink under the “Explore this Title” section on the left side of the webpage to download the text.  This is an Adobe Acrobat file that requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded free at Adobe’s site.  Please read Chapters 8 to 17 (pages 143-231).  In this final section of the course, we turn our attention to case studies about human rights and basic needs.  The cases are diverse and address national policies, global standards, and specific needs.  Consider the various applications of human rights.  Think about how human rights affect the most vulnerable population (infants) and how refugees face unique struggles. As you complete this section, think about your own access to fair treatment and sufficient goods and services.  How might your life be different in another region of the world?
 
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  • Lecture: iTunes U: Cornell University’s Maude Barlow’s “Our Water Commons” Link: iTunes U: Cornell University’s Maude Barlow’s “Our Water Commons” (iTunes U)
     
    Also available in:
    Adobe Flash, Mp3
     
    Instructions:  Click on the “View in iTunes” hyperlink for lecture 45 titled “Maude Barlow: Our Water Commons” to download the video for free.  Listen to the entire lecture (114 minutes).  View this entire lecture.  Think about how water rights are currently decided.  Can you think of more equitable methods?
     
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Unit Five Quiz   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 5 Quiz” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 5 Quiz (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please take this short quiz.  When you are finished, compare your answers to The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 5 Quiz Answers.” (PDF)