SMNR: Natural Resource Governance, Human Rights, and Inequality

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON 3:45 - 5:35 pm JON 5.206/207

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This seminar will not be available for registration during early registration, but you will be able to register for this class on April 18th through the main campus ROSE system. This seminar will address the human rights issues that arise in the context of natural resource extraction and governance, especially in relation to resources such as fossil fuels, minerals and timbers. It will examine how persistent inequalities between and within countries pose additional challenges for the realization of human rights in relation to natural resource extraction. Natural resource extraction is often seen as a means to raise needed revenue for development and realization of social and economic rights within countries, but it is also often located on the land of indigenous or otherwise socially marginalized groups, who may oppose it. Moreover, extractive projects often seem to benefit the corporations or governments that control them more than the local population that bear their costs. Does a human rights perspective help us adjudicate these tensions? How do existing inequalities influence how the benefits, risks and decision-making authority in relation to natural resource governance are distributed? Would a human rights lens help redress some of these inequalities? What alternative governance regimes can we envision that might most effectively address the inequalities that might arise in the context of natural resource extraction? What should we do about the downstream effects of fossil fuel extraction, such as the carbon it releases into the atmosphere? The seminar will be organized around the visits of leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of natural resources and human rights who will come to the Law School to present their research. Students will spend two weeks considering work by each speaker. In the first week, we will meet in a traditional seminar format to discuss the speaker’s work. In the second week, the speakers will present their work in a public forum, and will engage in dialogue with seminar students, as well as with others in the university community who choose to attend the talk. Students will thus have the opportunity both to participate in critical discussion of the work in a small setting and to observe and contribute to a conversation with the authors in a broader audience. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, write short critical papers in response to the readings for the seminar, and write a longer essay on a topic related to the themes that arise during the semester. The seminar is open to law students as well as to non-law graduate and professional students with relevant background.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

No materials required


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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
04/08/2016 Instructor(s) updated