On Friday, September 18, Rutgers Law School hosted the Business & Human Rights Junior Scholars Conference in Newark. The Conference brought together scholars from a variety of disciplines, including Business and Management, Law, and Public Affairs, and was sponsored by Rutgers Law School, the Rutgers Center for Corporate Law and Governance, the Rutgers Business School, the Institute for Ethical Leadership, and the University of Washington School of Law.
The Conference was the first academic conference in the U.S. to focus exclusively on business and human rights scholarship. Michael Santoro explained, “Scholars who work in the BHR field are all committed to helping to insure that global business will contribute to the betterment of local communities and indigenous peoples.” At the Conference, junior scholars received critique and mentorship from renowned senior scholars. Junior scholars Kish Parella, Chrystin Ondersma, Lisa Laplante, Pamela Foohey, Barnali Choudhury, Tricia Olsen, Sarah Haan, Melissa Rivera, Gwynne Skinner, and Judith Schrempf-Stirling – tenure-track professors who are either untenured or have been tenured in the past three years – presented their papers and received feedback from senior scholars. Senior scholars were Nien-he Hsieh (Harvard), Denis Arnold (University of North Carolina), Michael Santoro (Rutgers Business School), Wayne Eastman (Rutgers Business School), Anita Ramasastry (University of Washington School of Law), and Beth Stephens (Rutgers School of Law).
Topics included sex tourism, lending practices and church bankruptcies, human rights and consumer credit, corporate social responsibility critiques, free speech, the privatization of human rights, and critiques of treaty proposals. Each paper addressed issues at the intersection of business and human rights. As Michael Santoro explained, “Prof. Ramasastry and I conceived the BHR Junior Scholars conference as a way to help develop the next generation of scholarship in the BHR field. In November we, along with our co-founders, will launch the Business and Human Rights Journal (Cambridge University Press) at the United Nations Global Forum on Business and Human Rights. ” Upon request, participants’ papers may be considered for publication in the Business and Human Rights Journal.