How might you define, understand, and uphold justice in a global and globalizing world? That question forms the focal point of this course. It leads to an examination of whether or not global justice is impossible because of a chaotic and extremely diverse world, or to varying degrees, whether or not justice by its very nature demands a global context and scope of applicability. Justice, whether considered in abstraction or applied contexts, is fundamentally about human rights. We will begin this course with an exploration of human rights, a subject that grounds the entire course. Embedded in the human rights context is an analysis of the political theories of justice-through a cursory review of some of the seminal texts on global justice-along with an examination of applied and distributive justice focusing on specific issues or problems that have arisen in contemporary global dynamics. Thus, gender/sexuality, race/ethnicity, genocide, self-determination, environmental concerns, class, and participatory rights become the concrete realities to be explored in light of the theoretical material on global justice.
Stepping stones on the path through this course include political philosophy, international and global relations, and history. Such an interdisciplinary approach gives rise to a rigorous examination that includes practical reasoning, the tensions between universalism and relativism, as well as the very real issues and problems of creating and maintaining 'just' or 'fair' societies in a global context. To extend this line of thought further, the course will consider the following question: can global society itself be 'just' or 'fair' (assuming that such an all-encompassing society, in fact, exists)? Reflecting on the degree to which, if at all, individuals or states should desire convergence upon a set of abstract principles and consequent norms underscores the dual theoretical and applied nature of this course. Further, does such a convergence (whether required, coerced, or encouraged) necessarily occur at the expense of particular cultures, traditions, or identities?