Course description

This course prepares students to work on global issues at the intersection of business, climate, and human rights in companies, consulting, government, civil society, at the United Nations (UN), or in the field. Practitioners with expertise in this fast-evolving and dynamic area are in high demand, and this course equips students from all professional backgrounds and experience levels with the knowledge and practical skills to incorporate these issues into their current roles or make a career transition. The course introduces foundational concepts in development practice: what are human rights? How are they linked to business, climate, and sustainable development? To what extent do companies have a responsibility to respect them and what are the legal, financial, operational, and reputational risks of not doing so? Topics include exploration of voluntary and regulatory frameworks such as international human rights treaties, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the emerging landscape of mandatory corporate human rights and environmental due diligence laws. We then delve into an issue at the forefront of the business-climate-human rights nexus: ensuring a just energy transition. What are the human rights considerations related to renewable energy projects and the extraction of transition minerals for wind, solar, and electric vehicle technologies? How can companies mitigate impacts to supply chain workers, Indigenous peoples, local communities, and human rights defenders, while achieving rapid decarbonization to meet the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) targets? What lessons can be drawn from more established sectors? The course concludes with a focus on developing the practitioner skill-set required to design a corporate human rights program that integrates climate issues. Students learn how to develop a human rights strategy, draft a human rights policy commitment, conduct human rights impact assessments and due diligence, implement grievance mechanisms and remedies for impacted rightsholders, and design qualitative and quantitative indicators to track and report human rights performance. For complete and current details about this Harvard Extension course, see the description in the DCE Course Search.

Enroll now.
Learn More