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COURSE NAME: "Human Trafficking and Contemporary Slavery - HONORS (This course carries 4 semester hours of credits. A minimum CUM GPA of 3.5 is required)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Silvia Scarpa
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00-11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Junior Standing
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

After a brief, comparative overview of historical practices, this course will examine contemporary manifestations, focusing in particular on chattel slavery, religious slavery, domestic servitude, bonded labor/debt bondage, forced prostitution and sexual slavery, early and forced marriages, forced labor, and human trafficking. Less familiar forms of human trafficking, such as trafficking for the purpose of illegal adoptions and organ sales, and the difference between human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants will also be studied. Special attention will be given to understanding what should be done to fight against these contemporary exploitative practices.
Starting with a brief overview on slavery and a comparison between slavery of the past centuries and the contemporary subtle forms of slavery-like practices, this course will analyze various forms of exploitation, focusing in particular on chattel slavery, religious slavery, servitude, the bonded labor/debt bondage practice, forced prostitution and sexual slavery including their link with sex tourism, early and forced marriages, the exploitation of child soldiers and forced labor. A definition for every form of exploitation will be given to clearly emphasize differences and overlaps existing among them. The course will subsequently deal with trafficking in human beings, assessing its spreading in the world, emphasizing the lack of data, commenting on the available estimates and analyzing its causes and consequences and the most common forms of exploitation related to it, including sexual and labor exploitation, the involvement of children in armed conflicts, illegal adoptions and trafficking for the removal of human organs. The lack of an internationally agreed definition of human trafficking until the adoption in 2000 of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children will be discussed and the differences between this phenomenon and the smuggling of migrants will be studied. Specific attention will be dedicated to understanding what can be done to fight against the spreading of these contemporary forms of slavery and of human trafficking.
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to define the various contemporary slavery-like practices and processes, being aware of their spreading in the world, of their main causes and consequences, of the international action aimed at abolishing them and of short and long-term strategies that need to be adopted to eradicate them. They also will be able to assess the major successes and failures in establishing a framework in which these phenomena could be eradicated and they will have conducted research on a specific issue of their interest and have conducted a group work on a selected topic.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's SlavesKevin BalesUniversity of California Press9780520254701  

Essay1,500 words minimum80%
Attendance and class participation 20%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Students are expected to attend classes regularly, to read assigned reading materials before classes and to contribute to class discussions.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.






Week 1

Introduction to the Course

What is contemporary slavery? What is human trafficking?

Quirk, Ch. 1 – p. 23-33; Scarpa, Ch. 1 – p. 3-8; Scarpa-Article-Groningen J..

Week 2



Is slavery of the past different from the one of today?


Bales, Ch. 1; Quirk, Ch. 3.

Week 3

Vestiges of past slavery: chattel slavery and religious slavery.

Bales, Ch. 3; Black, p. 1-26; 35-38.

Week 4

Forced labor.



Child labor. Child labor in cocoa plantations.

Readings on forced labor: ILO Handbook, p. 8-16; Kang Muico, p. 1-19 and 27; Anti-Slavery Report, p. 1-5.

Readings on child labor: Lieten; Hindman; AI_Cocoa Report, p. 3-18 and 40-69.

Week 5

Debt bondage.

Bales, Ch. 4, 5 and 6.

Week 6


The commercial sexual exploitation of children and child sex tourism.

Bales, Ch. 2 and Ecpat Report.

Week 7


Trafficking in persons: lack of data, estimates, causes & consequences and distribution in the world.

Scarpa, Ch. 1 – p. 8-21; Weitzer.


Week 8

The forms of exploitation related to human trafficking.

Scarpa, Ch. 1 – p. 22 - 34 and 40.

Week 9

Peacekeeping and human trafficking.


Week 10


Trafficking in persons for the removal of organs.

Pearson; Scheper-Hughes; Scarpa, Ch. 1 - p. 34 - 39.

Week 11

The smuggling of migrants: definition. Trafficking in persons v. the smuggling of migrants. Trafficking in persons in the wider context of international migrations.

Bhabha and Zard; Gallagher; Anti-Slavery International Report on Migration-Trafficking Nexus, p. 1-15.

Week 12


What can be done to fight against contemporary slavery and human trafficking?


Students’ presentations.


Bales, Ch. 7.

Week 13

Students’ presentations.


Week 14

Con’t and Final summary.

Week 15


Final Exam

Date TBA