Sociology students present on stopping modern-day slavery

Nadine Fox, Staff writer

On Dec. 7 in the Mercy Heritage Room from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., 30 of our Mercyhurst students presented their research from this semester and an advertising campaign on human trafficking. These students are currently taking the Human Trafficking 350 course taught in the Applied Sociology and Social Work Department.

For the presentations, the class was split into six groups and the time was divided into six presentations.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world that affects millions of people. Research and studies indicate that human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry. No country is exempt, nor does one’s geographical location or environment eliminate the risk of victimization.

Students in the course taught by Nicole John-Danzell, Ph.D., are exploring human trafficking within the broader globalization context.

“My passion for exposing students to this course is to offer them tools to better understand the complexity of this problem, to see it more than a course and the salience context in reducing human trafficking occurrences around the world,” said John-Danzell.

They are learning not only how widespread modern-day slavery is, but also how we are exposed to the nuances in experiences of all forms of slave-like practices, theoretical frameworks that explain why this crime persists and the role of various social actors in addressing this growing problem among other topics.

“Students are often shocked to learn about the pervasiveness of Trafficking in Person (TIP), that it happens in their own backyards and how much more complex this crime is than they originally thought,” said John-Danzell.

This year, John-Danzell’s students presented their human trafficking awareness posters along with an ad campaign called “STOP MDS—Stop Modern-Day Slavery.”

The event was open to everyone from the Mercyhurst community to attend, and even included visits from Erie News Now and high-schoolers from Mercyhurst Prep.

Each of six groups presented research on a selected region of interest, such as Asia, Latin America, the U.S., Europe and Africa, analyzing the problem of human trafficking globally to raise awareness on the issue.

The posters the class created take on a comprehensive lens covering elements such as the larger historical, sociopolitical and economic context in which human trafficking is conducted, condoned and facilitated; theoretical explanations why actors participate human trafficking; notable forms of trafficking within their regions and consequences; exploration of the justice system particularly prosecutorial practices, trafficking rings and perpetrators in that region; the audience would be informed on micro and macro initiatives and recommendations from governments, in general, and the FBI in particular, as well as nongovernmental organizations, private sector/companies, individuals, and social movements aimed at mitigating the problem of human trafficking.

“I hope my course and students’ presentations bring heightened visibility to the problem of human trafficking, the role consumers and consumer culture play in human trafficking, such as consumption of seafood products, chocolate and the plethora of everyday products that is tainted by the hands of trafficked victims via the production and supply chains,” said John-Danzell.

If you missed the presentations, but still want to see the work the students did, you can check out the Mercyhurst Social Work Instagram page and check out their post for the event.