Conference highlights ethical labor globally
Fast fashion might be fun and fit into your budget, but the consequences of that purchase might be greater than you think.
Two disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences, merchandising and economics, have joined forces at Indiana University to examine issues of ethical labor on a global scale with a one-day Ethical Labor Speaker Series on Nov. 8. With fashion closely tied to identity, this series will discuss consumerism, merchandising, and economics in the clothing world today.
Dr. Gerhard Glomm, professor in the Department of Economics, says this is an important event to teach students more about the impact of the clothing industry. "I think one of the reasons for students and faculty to attend this conference is that the conference will lay bare connections between economic, social, political, and ethical issues that are typically not covered in a coherent framework in single classes," Dr. Glomm said. "It is, in my experience, exceedingly rare to bring together representatives of corporate America, higher education, and major human rights organizations to engage in a dialogue on a very important issue."
The series starts at 4:30 p.m. with Zoltán I. Búzás, associate professor of global affairs at Notre Dame, then Lena Simet, Human Rights Watch senior researcher and advocate and finally Francisco Luna Vilalta, Patagonia's director of sourcing & production . After the guest speakers, there will be a group panel open to the audience for a Q&A.
Dr. Glomm says the conference fits "perfectly" into one of the Colleges of Arts & Sciences' five guiding principles: to live ethically. The conference explores the concept of "fast fashion" or cheap fashion and its offenses against workers. The series also addresses the western expression of identity to fashion, and how this identity can be maintained or changed without exploiting the lives and wellbeing of factory workers.
"The hope is that attendees of the conference will be inspired to go beyond just treating this as an academic issue," Dr. Glomm said, "that they might be inspired to take particular actions, now as students, and later in their careers, that will make substantial contributions to these issues."
The event was organized by students Cassie Driver and Claire Potter. Potter urges students to attend to learn more about ethical labor practices. Not only will this provide further insight, Potter says, but it will also kickstart new questions for students in their own area of study.
"Our main goal is for students to walk away learning the reality of labor rights issues and what actions can be taken to support change," said Potter. "We hope that this conference will inspire students to consume ethically, pursue impactful careers, and make positive and meaningful changes as they enter the workforce."
The Ethical Labor Speaker Series takes place on Nov. 8 at Ernie Pyle Hall from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. For more information about this event, visit Themester’s News + Events website.