Globalization, Sustainability, and Justice [CRN 31349]

Discipline: Political Science
Instructor: LeFebvre
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1100
End: 1220
Field Work: Day 6 | February 13, 2019 | Vietnam
Prerequisites: One (1) international relations course OR one (1) comparative government or politics course OR by permission of Instructor Download Syllabus

This course is an introduction to issues that arise when pressures of globalization collide with principles of equitable treatment and environmental and social sustainability. Globalization has resulted in growth in developing countries and lower prices in richer countries, but the environmental, human rights, and social costs to developing countries can be high: factories, mining, large-scale agricultural production, the desire to develop scarce resources—minerals for laptops and cell phones, or land to produce beef, palm oil, or paper —may easily take priority over equitable treatment and sustainability. For example, we can eat chocolate made from cacao, grown on deforested plantations in West Africa and perhaps harvested by child slaves (who have never tasted chocolate): justice and sustainability here have little importance. Topics include the roles of the UN, other global political governance organizations, NGOs, and populist movements; pressure on international corporations regarding human rights, sustainable practices, transparency, and ethical supply chains; physical, economic, and social damage from climate change; corruption; xenophobia, gender, ethnic, class, religious, and racial discrimination; labor exploitation, slavery, and human trafficking; land ownership and poverty; globalization-created conflict zones; global justice/human rights principles; and relevant national, customary, and international norms and law. We also will look at programs and policies that respect rights and promote sustainability. This course will rely on case studies from port countries.

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 6
Date: February 13, 2019

The class will begin the day by visiting artisanal fish and shrimp farmers in the Mekong Delta. Artisanal fish farmers are local people who have created their own ponds to farm fish and shrimp and are not part of any company or government facility. We will learn about the globalization and sustainability issues associated with small scale aquaculture, which has turned into big business globally, due to the large number of fish farmers, who can make much more money farming fish and shrimp than growing rice. In the afternoon, we will talk with a local expert about sustainability issues; the boom-or-bust nature of these fish farming enterprises; the uninformed and excessive dumping of chemicals into these ponds and the impact on the environment and on fish and shrimp produced; clean certification possibilities; the government program to provide more stability, with less money, to these farmers; and the global need to produce certified safe fish and shrimp for protein through farmed fish, rather than wild-caught fish, which is no longer a sustainable option.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn all the reasons these farmers decide to clear the land and create these farms: what are the advantages and disadvantages to farming fish, rather than farming rice? What is the impact of climate change and the consequent increase of extreme weather events on fish and shrimp farms?
  2. Learn what is required to create these farms, what diseases may affect the fish or shrimp, and what guidelines farmers follow to feed them and apply chemicals to protect these animals.
  3. Learn how farmers market their products and the steps in the international supply chain that bring these products to the consumer.
  4. Learn more about local and national economic development goals, sustainability, environmental degradation, and other impacts with regard to aquaculture