New NYU Stern Textbook to Advance Study of Business and Human Rights
Textbook Continues Stern’s Work at Intersection of Business and Society
Sarah Labowitz, who co-leads the Center for Business and Human Rights with Posner, sees the launch of the new textbook as a natural continuation of the really interesting things Stern is doing at the intersection of business and society. “In the last three years, Stern has created centers on globalization, environmental sustainability and business and human rights,” she says. “I think that reflects a really forward-looking vision of where business is going, and it’s appealing to a wider group of students interested in applying business skills to society’s most pressing problems.”
Publication of this seminal new textbook continues the center’s pro-business, solutions-based approach to confronting business and human rights challenges. The center also offers a range of classes to Stern MBA students—such as “Global Markets, Human Rights and the Press” and “Law and Business and Human Rights”—and conducts path-breaking research. Examples of this research include two recent articles co-authored by Labowitz and Baumann-Pauly on the apparel supply chain in Bangladesh: Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: Bangladesh’s Forgotten Apparel Workers and Shared Responsibility: A New Paradigm for Supply Chains.
“We have created the first national-level map of the apparel industry in Bangladesh,” Labowitz says. Beyond this deep dive into the business and human rights issues in the fashion industry, the center has also started to conduct research on migrant workers in construction, the issues around privacy in the technology sector and more.
Goal Is to Establish Study of Business and Human Rights within Business School Curriculum
As for the hot-off-the-press textbook, Labowitz and Baumann-Pauly hope to use it to advocate for business and human rights to become part of the curriculum at all business schools. “The field is highly fragmented and includes multiple voices, and through this text we hope to provide a clearer vision of where this field should go,” Baumann-Pauly says.
In particular, the editors advocate for the adoption of industry-specific human rights standards. Concreteness around what is expected of companies is needed to make sure that investors and consumers have greater clarity over their business and human rights performances, they argue. “There is no way to know whether Coke or Pepsi is stronger around human rights because they commit to different policies and share different key performance indicators,” Baumann-Pauly offers as an example.
Baumann-Pauly herself will structure a course around the new textbook at Stern in the coming year, and co-editor Nolan will do the same at Australia’s University of New South Wales, where she teaches. UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business—which recently hired its first business and human rights practitioner—has already expressed interest in the text, as has the University of Connecticut, Baumann-Pauly reports. She will also introduce the book at the Sixth Annual Teaching Business and Human Rights Workshop, to be held at Columbia University next month, where she hopes even more professors will embrace it and choose to use it in their classrooms.
Published by Routlege, the textbook is available for purchase on Amazon.