Joanne Bauer teaches Corporations and Human Rights as well as the year-long Business and Human Rights Clinic at SIPA. She is Senior Researcher for the Business and Human Rights Program, at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Human Rights and co-leads an international initiative on Teaching Business and Human Rights based at Columbia. In October 2018 she launched Rights CoLab, an independent initiative that develops strategies to advance human rights through business, technology and finance.

From 2006 -2012, Bauer was Senior Researcher at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, where she was in charge of the Centre’s Asia work, and also specialized HIV/AIDS, women's human rights, and access to medicines globally.

From 1994 to 2005 Bauer was Director of Studies at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs (New York), where she founded the Carnegie Council’s research programs on human rights and environmental values. She also directed the fellows program, providing off-site fellowships for early career scholars and mid-career professionals. She was the Council’s Director of Japan Programs from 1991 to 1994 and before that held positions in banking, government affairs, and media.

Bauer was founder and editor of Human Rights Dialogue, a magazine published by the Carnegie Council from 1993-2005, featuring contributions from activists, scholars, and policy makers from around the globe working to put human rights theory into practice. She is editor of Forging Environmentalism: Justice, Livelihood and Contested Environments (ME Sharpe, 2006), which provides original case material on values and environmental politics in China, Japan, India, and the United States, based on a five-year, multi-team research project. She co-edited The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 1999), based on three-year project she directed. Bauer served as a contributing editor to the journal Ethics & International Affairs, editor of Dialogue OnLine, the on-line companion to Human Rights Dialogue, and has authored a number of articles, book chapters, and reports.

Bauer is Vice Chair of the Board of Inclusive Development International, and has also served as an adviser to several non-profits and projects, including: Accountability Counsel, Oxfam/UN Global Compact's poverty footprinting project, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, the Center for Applied Legal Studies at the University Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, and Route 2. Her research includes the following projects: leveraging finance for human rights; stakeholder engagement; benefit corporations and other alternative corporate structures, and national action plans on business and human rights.

As an independent consultant, Bauer conducts research and program evaluation for foundations and non-profits, specializing in human rights programs. She speaks frequently on topics in business and human rights and has blogged for CSRWire and Open Democracy. In 2012 she was appointed a Research Affiliate of the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut, and 2016-2017 she was a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Melbourne Law School.

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