Friday, September 14, 2007

My Official Project Proposal

Issue: My project was shaped by two ideas. The first was a quote from an Amnesty International report quoted in Coming of Age in a Globalized World: "the top 200 multi-national corporations have more economic power than the poorest four fifths of humanity... Through this sheer size, economic dominance and mobility, the multi-nationals can set the agenda for development, sway political decisions, and have a major impact on the reality of human rights for very many people" (58).

This reminded me of a lecture I heard first at the Independent Institute in Oakland and later at SJSU from Dr. Ben Powell about sweatshops. Dr. Powell was making the point that sweatshops are the best possible option for many people in developing countries. Although conditions in sweatshops seem unacceptable to most Americans, for people who work there its often a choice between sweatshops and jobs like prositituion. (Dr. Powell actively excluded situations where sweatshop workers were not paid or forced to work there, but rather where a choice was clearly made).

Dr. Powell went on to discuss how many Americans had boycotted Nike and other companies who sold products made in sweatshops. Many Americans are concerned about the lack of safe working conditions, by American standards. Dr. Powell pointed out that after Nike and other companies stopped using sweatshops, these workers were economically depressed. The boycott hurt the people the Americans had intended to help!

So, grass roots-global citizens need to act more carefully when they work to impact multi-national organizations. Often, its difficult to disagree with a tactic such as a boycott, as it is hard to question the process without seeming to be on the wrong side. What do these grass-roots global citizens need to know about how the system and the process work so that they can better evaluate proposed solutions?

I am concerned about the prevalence of extreme poverty in the world today. This semester, I am interested in understanding the literature and controversy surrounding poverty, in particular the role of the World Bank, IMF and WTO. I hope to teach other global citizens how to evaluate and question sources of information. I hope that this information would help myself and other conscientious global citizens to create an action plan for addressing this problem.

Intended Audience: Global Citizens, such as Salzburg Scholars and Global Citizenship class.

Mode: Power point presentation.

1 comment:

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