Spring Arbor University will host its First Conference on Human Trafficking on the University’s main campus on Saturday, October 12, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Conference is titled “Understanding Realities and Formulating Solutions” and will include three keynote addresses, eight workshop sessions, a dramatic skit, and an art display on human trafficking in West Africa. Early bird pricing is $15 for students and $40 for non-students (the costs are $20 and $50 after Sept. 25). Scholarships are available based on need, but are only available for a limited time.
The keynote presentations feature Dr. Celia Williamson, professor of social work at the University of Toledo, a national expert on human trafficking, Leslie King, founder and chief executive officer of Sacred Beginnings in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Jane White, director and founder of the Michigan Human Trafficking Force in East Lansing, Mich. The workshops will feature a variety of topics by professionals from around the country who work on issues related to human trafficking.
What began as an interest in human trafficking for a few students following a cross-cultural excursion to Cambodia has grown over the past several years. After returning to campus, students took the initiative, with the guidance of SAU Associate Professor of Sociology, Global Studies, and Criminal Justice, Jeremy Norwood, to research the possibility that human trafficking takes place in Jackson County and elsewhere in Michigan. The movement grew with the involvement of FMC Pastor Kevin Austin, the organization of a FOCUS Series by SAU Professor Mary Darling and others on Human Trafficking including, and subsequent public speaking engagements, task force participation, and strategic partnerships locally and within the state of Michigan.
Those involved in planning the Conference see the event as another way to keep the conversation going. “We want to keep the momentum going and continue to dialogue with other partners regarding how to formulate sustainable solutions to human trafficking in our communities and throughout the state of Michigan,” says Norwood. “I would encourage anyone who is interested or wants to get involved to attend.”