Human Trafficking: 2018-2019 FLC Theme

CRS University Engagement is pleased to announce that the 2018-2019 theme for our CRS Faculty Learning Commons will be:

Human Trafficking

The full slate of modules are being finalized and will be available on our FLC Course Materials page this Spring 2018.  Our approach will integrate both Catholic social teaching and an international human rights perspective, providing you with new and innovative lenses through which you and your students can explore this issue.

Partnership and Resource Development

Each year, a theme is chosen and modules are developed as a partnership between CRS staff and faculty partners.  The primary partners for Human Trafficking are:

  • Christine Cervenak, J.D. - Associate Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights and Concurrent Assistant Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame
  • Lucy Y Steinitz, Ph.D. - CRS Senior Technical Advisor for Protection, Program Impact and Quality Assurance Department.

Collaboration began as CRS and Notre Dame's Center for Civil and Human Rights hosted a workshop on July 11, 2017 at CRS Headquarters in Baltimore, MD entitled "Taking a Step Back: A One-Day Workshop to Begin Formulating a Comprehensive Action-Framework to Prevent Human Trafficking."  This workshop included field practitioners from eight countries and academics from four universities and offered a timely opportunity to hone in on the best ways to prevent trafficking by addressing both risk factors and trigger events.  Read the final workshop report and learn more about the day here.

Collaboration continued as Christine Cervenak developed the content as part of a Fall 2017 course at the University of Notre Dame.  We especially thank the students in the course, entitled Human Trafficking: Causes, Responses and Current Debates, for their contributions.  The students include Jebraune Chambers, Victoria Erdel, Alexandra Franco, Xinran Jiang, Elizabeth Kolb, Stephanie Konrady, Madeleine Moroun, Ariel Niforatos, Maria Orellana Muniz, and Bridget Rickard.  We also thank Christine Cervenak's two undergraduate research assistants: Ariel Niforatos and Molly Burton.  Watch this video below of her students sharing what they learned through that process and why other students should be exposed to this material in the classroom.

Theme Overview

Taken from the Executive Summary of CRS's Trafficking In Persons Policy Paper.  View the full document here.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, with conservative estimates suggesting that 21 million people worldwide are caught in its web. Pope Francis calls human trafficking a “crime against humanity” that must be stopped.

The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked, and include economic, social and political factors. Poverty alone does not necessarily create vulnerability to trafficking, but when combined with other factors (such as civil unrest), these can lead to higher risk for being trafficked. This phenomenon, referred to as ‘poverty-plus,’ is a condition of so many people around the world, creating a vast “supply” of potential victims. Therefore, strategies to combat trafficking must address both supply and demand. The U.S. government has led global efforts to address human trafficking since passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Authorization Act (TVPA) in 2000.2 U.S. efforts are based on the “three P’s” of U.S. foreign policy: prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute traffickers. CRS works with the State Department, Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), and USAID through projects that address trafficking.

Catholic Relief Services has addressed human trafficking through more than 145 projects around the world since 2000. Our approach to combating trafficking is based on Catholic social teaching and mandates that we protect, preserve and promote human dignity. Our activities include corporate engagement, victims’ services, and trafficking risk reduction in development and humanitarian interventions.

Theme Modules

  1. Human Trafficking: an Overview
  2. Root Causes of Human Trafficking
  3. Complexities of Labor Trafficking
  4. Complexities of Sex Trafficking
  5. Other Manifestations of Modern Slavery
  6. Effective Responses to Human Trafficking
  7. Human Trafficking and Catholic Social Teaching

Resource Preview


[Photo Caption: Sunil Rao, 15, (left) and Dasmath Rao, 15, (right) planned to leave their village Balua Bazar to work in the city. A trafficker coordinated their departure, but a teenager in a nearby village prevented them and another of their friends from being trafficked and leaving the village by alerting leaders working with Bachpan. Sunil's mother, Budhia, is a widow and he had hoped to earn income to help her. Dasmath also hoped to contribute to his family. The Fakirana Sisters’ Society, a CRS partner, has a program called Bachpan that is working to prevent migration and labor trafficking in Bihar, India. Bachpan means childhood in Hindi. Due to limited income options and poor quality of education, migration is a common practice, particularly for boys ages 8-14. These boys often travel to locations hundreds of kilometers away to work in brick kilns, construction, textile factories and other industries. Photo Credit: Elie Gardner/CRS]

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