Human Rights

Dr Tom Kerns













Bhopal Assignment
and Discussion Questions



One case you will be discussing this week concerns the events and issues surrounding the explosion of the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India in the early morning hours of December 3rd, 1984.

This assignment involves four elements:

  1. Do a little research, either in libraries or on the web, and see what you can discover about the Bhopal incident. Post a paragraph or two describing to classmates what you've discovered about it. (Be sure to include citations describing where you found your information.)

  2. Say a few words about what ethical issues come to mind for you in reading about this event and its aftermath.

  3. If you had to frame some of those ethical issues in terms of human rights norms or violations, what rights would you see as particularly relevant?

  4. Discuss each other's responses to these DQs.


As a side note, a novel, Animal's People, by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster, 2008), provides a fictionalized account of what the Union Carbide explosion and its aftermath may have been like for Bhopal residents. I considered assigning this novel as one of the required texts for the course but decided we already had a lot to read so chose not to. You might want to put it on your list of books to read in the future, though. Novels and other personal narratives have great potential to make an event feel more real for those who have not experienced it directly.

If you did decide to read the novel this quarter, it would count as extra credit.