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ASU joins a global cause to end modern slavery

ASU joins a global cause to end modern slavery

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald, Global Studies sophomore, Barrett, the Honors College and student director of ASU’s Changemaker Central speaks at the Challenge Slavery event.

Think slavery has ended? Think again.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that there are 20.9 million men, women and children enslaved around the world today. These individuals are denied their freedoms and exploited through means of forced labor and prostitution.

Students and faculty at Arizona State University urged students to help combat the problem on Jan. 9 at “Campus Challenge: A call to action against human trafficking.”

The event, co-sponsored by ASU’s College of Public Programs, ASU Global and Changemaker Central, was created to raise awareness for, USAID’s Counter Trafficking in Persons Campus Challenge. ASU Global, a part of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, works with local, national and international partners to find solutions to the most complex challenges facing our world today.

“ASU is committed to the idea that universities must participate in solving problems,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Programs, in his opening statement. “This challenge is a call to action that as a group and as individuals, we can be agents of change.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) selected ASU to play a central role in the launch of its newest initiative in the war on modern slavery.  The Campus Challenge from USAID is simple: students are encouraged to submit ideas on how technology can be used in positive ways to combat the spread of trafficking and provide assistance to trafficking victims.

The event also presented other ways in which students can become involved, including visiting sites such as Not For Sale and Slavery Footprint, to raise awareness and reduce consumption of goods produced through slave labor.
Groups including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Unchained Movement and Dignity House were also present and disseminating information at the event.

Students may submit ideas to the Campus Challenge on their own, with a partner or as a member of a team. Winners will be announced in March and will be invited to showcase and discuss their ideas and receive prizes of up to $5,000.

The application deadline has been extended to midnight on Jan. 31. For more information on contest rules and how to enter visit ChallengeSlavery at

 “This ambitious initiative aims to harness the creativity and expertise of the broader university community to address challenges that were once thought to be intractable,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Programs. “USAID has taken to calling it ‘open source development,’ which reflects the Agency’s desire to open development to problem-solvers everywhere – from students on campuses to CEOs of major corporations,” he said.

The Campus Challenge aligns closely with ASU’s leadership in anti-human trafficking research activities, and other initiatives that focus on bringing to bear previously untapped sources of innovation to solve complex problems, including 10,000 Solutions, Changemaker Central and the White House Policy Challenge.
Koppell said the university’s involvement in these initiatives captured the attention of Sarah Mendelson, deputy assistant administrator with USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.

“After learning of our capabilities and expertise in this space, Sarah expressed her excitement about building out a more robust engagement between USAID and ASU, beginning with our hosting the January event,” Koppell said.

Mendelson attended the Jan. 9 event in Tempe to personally encourage ASU students to join the global effort to end modern slavery.

To watch a video of the event, go to: