Challenging Corporate Abuse: Week 1

I am an intern at Corporate Accountability International, formerly known as Infact. It is a non-profit organization that is passionately driven by its mission is to stop corporate abuse of human rights, the environment, and any and all threats to the well-being of the public.  Corporate Accountability International uses strategic measures to pressure corporations through public support to cease dangerous practices.  I am working on their domestic water campaign to challenge corporate control of our water. The two umbrella campaigns within that are Think Outside The Bottle and Public Water Works.

I’m working on a project to support National Parks going bottled-water-free. I will also help to gather support for our organization and cause through methods such as petitions, which is what we did this past week. At the Cambridge River Festival, we obtained over 400 signatures for our Think Outside the Bottle petition, showing support for tap over bottled water, and our petition to urge McDonald’s to stop marketing to children.

This is a poster from our Food Campaign to challenge McDonald's by working to stop them from marketing to children with tactics such as their clown, Ronald McDonald.
Poster from the Value [the] Meal Campaign calling on Ronald McDonald to “retire” from his job marketing fast food to kids.

I found my internship both on as well as through the listserv of my job last summer with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. I was immediately struck by the human rights focus of the organization. I was also impressed with the extensive application and interview process, which first proved to me that the people of this organization are serious about what they do.

During all three interviews I took part in, I could see how passionate each and every employee was. It is clearly a cohesive group of individuals who work together to make real change happen in an organized and aggressive way. I see more and more proof of this every day I spend with them. In addition to everything I have already learned from all of the organized orientation presentations about every aspect of the organization, I have also begun to get to know a great group of 11 other fellow interns. I have already learned so much about the horrendous practices of transnational corporations, as well as the consequences of their environmental and human rights abuses on a national and global scale. Much of what I learned about corporate control of our water is summed up in this incredibly helpful video produced by Corporate Accountability International called“The Story of Bottled Water.”

This summer, I hope to learn more about the specific consequences of the privatization of water in the hands of enormous organizations that take water as a natural resource that is actually a human right, and bottle it up into a commodity to sell it back to us at thousands of times the cost we should be paying for it. I expect to learn more about this type of manufactured demand, and more about whether huge transnational corporations that are legally bound to make profits for their shareholders are inherently evil, or simply amoral. After meeting with my supervisor, I am also looking forward to becoming a much more effective campaign organizer with more experience organizing individual on a large scale and keeping track of everyone in the most efficient way possible.

–Kate Cohen ’14



2 thoughts on “Challenging Corporate Abuse: Week 1”

  1. Hello Kate,

    I was very excited to read your post. I am also very interested in studying corporate abuse (and I also work at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism–so I understand your fervor toward this subject!)
    What I really like about your post is how you bring up a very important ethical concern, as to how corporations can take advantage of what should be human rights and overcharge us for the use of water. It’s hard to understand where these corporations come from. But the fact that you are willing to analyze their point of view, and not just write them off as a faceless evil, is an approach that will aid in your learning of this tough ethical issue.
    It sounds like your inherent leadership skills and motivation will take you far. Good Luck!

    -Karrah ’15

  2. Hi Karrah,

    Thanks for the comment! I hope you’re enjoying your time at Schuster Institute – I definitely learned a ton working there last summer. I definitely think the reasoning behind corporations ignoring ethical issues boils down to one thing: profit. You’re right, though – there are people making decisions for these corporations, and it is important to work with them to make change. Thanks again for commenting!

    -Kate ’14

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