Message from the Dean

Blue truckA semitruck container discovered in Grays, England, similar to the one pictured above, held the bodies of 39 people. (Photo credit: High Contrast)

Solving Urgent Challenges: Stopping Human Trafficking

In October, a refrigerated container truck was found in England with 39 people dead inside the back. One can only begin to imagine the horrible ordeal the victims endured in that truck.

This tragedy and the multitude of discoveries like it confront us with the stark reality that human trafficking and modernized slavery persist in the 21st Century. In our globalized and fast-moving world, more and more people become victims of human trafficking and slavery in its many forms, including sexual exploitation, forced labor, domestic servitude, child labor and minors forced to serve in armed conflicts. According to the University of Nottingham, where Kroc School Professor Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick is a Summer Visiting Scholar, the size of the illicit trade of people is approximately 46 million slaves worldwide. Research conducted by Kroc School Professor Ami Carpenter and Professor Jaime Gates from Point Loma Nazarene University uncovered that San Diego’s underground sex economy alone totals at least $810 million per. The reality is that human trafficking and human slavery are neither small nor diminishing problems.

The Kroc School is working to contribute knowledge and ideas toward solving this most intractable problem. To do this we support this type of engaged scholarship that seeks to answer questions about the different complex dimensions that maintain and perpetuate the situation. And beyond scholarship, the Kroc School is developing learning opportunities about the problem and methodologies for designing viable solutions. Last year, the Kroc School invited Jamie Beck, a Kroc School advisory board member and USD School of Law alumna, to teach a graduate workshop where students applied design-thinking principles and systems thinking to identify, understand and confront commercial sexual exploitation. Working with the nonprofit Free to Thrive (founded by Beck), students learned some of the realities of commercial sexual exploitation from lived-experience experts, and working together went on to co-create projects for change.

Given the momentum generated by that workshop, the Kroc School is joining forces with other USD faculty as well as local nonprofits actively involved in the anti-trafficking movement. In January 2020 we will be offering a “Stopping Traffic” summit to bring together a group of diverse scholars and practitioners to learn about each other’s work and envision ways of collaborating for greater efficacy and impact. As pioneers in education for changemaking, the Kroc School aims to move forward a university-wide curriculum that prepares future leaders on “innovation to end human trafficking”.  More knowledge of human trafficking and modern slavery is needed. Our school, centered in innovation and design thinking for peace and justice, will be at the forefront of preparing new generations to move beyond doing more of the same.

Dean Patricia Márquez Dean Patricia Márquez "Our school, centered in innovation and design thinking for peace and justice, will be on the forefront of preparing new generations to move beyond doing more of the same."