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ASU tapped to help Obama administration fight human trafficking

January 06, 2013

“Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it…” – President Barack Obama, Sept. 25, 2012

The Obama Administration is asking students to come up with new and innovative ways to end human trafficking, and Arizona State University is answering the challenge.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has selected ASU to play a central role in the launch of its newest initiative in the war on modern slavery.  On Jan. 9, ASU will host a community-wide event to build momentum and raise awareness nationally and globally for, USAID’s Counter Trafficking in Persons (C-TIP) Campus Challenge.

Campus Challenge: A call to action against human trafficking
4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., Jan. 9
Memorial Union, Ventana Ballrooms B and C, Tempe campus
(This event will be webcast and recorded live at

This free ASU event will provide students with opportunities to hear from and interact with expert speakers, community advocates and student leaders working in the anti-human trafficking space and become involved in the movement by making a difference as community volunteers. ASU’s College of Public Programs, ASU Global and Changemaker Central are co-sponsoring the event.

“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. “We at the College of Public Programs are proud to partner with ASU Global and Changemaker Central to bring this important event to ASU and the larger community.”  

Responding to President Obama’s Sept. 25 call to action at the Clinton Global Initiative held in New York City, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah announced the Campus Challenge on Oct. 11 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

The Campus Challenge includes a contest that invites students to propose the best technological solutions to help end trafficking in persons in the developing world.

“USAID’s Campus Challenge encourages college students across the nation to be agents of change in the fight against human trafficking,” said Jacqueline Smith, executive director of ASU’s Office of University Initiatives.

“At ASU, students are provided with the tools and resources they need to be changemakers. Every day we work to inspire, catalyze and sustain student-driven social change,” Smith said.

The C-TIP Campus Challenge is designed to increase global awareness about trafficking, inspire activism among students and scholars at colleges and universities worldwide and generate new, creative ideas and solutions to stop human trafficking. The effort to help the estimated 20.9 million people around the world who are enslaved in sex or labor exploitation will occur across three phases and through the USAID website

During the first phase of the initiative, which began on Oct. 11, students were encouraged to join the online community to participate in discussion groups on various trafficking subtopics, host online conversations, and crowd-source issues that will frame the problems to be addressed in the next phase.

The contest phase, which concludes Jan. 31, is open for applications from U.S. and international students proposing innovative technological solutions to advance trafficking-in-persons prevention and protection. After the contest closes, the community will be invited to rate the proposals received and provide suggestions on how submissions can be improved.

Early in the month of March, USAID will announce the semifinalists and in the following three weeks, semifinalist proposals will be judged by an expert C-TIP and technologist panel. One first-place prize of $5,000 and one or more $2,500 runner-up prizes will be awarded to the top entries. The winners will be announced at the end of March and will be invited to share their proposals with donors, C-TIP and technology professionals.

USAID said it is partnering with Not for Sale, Slavery Footprint, Free the Slaves, MTV Exit, and Abolition International on this project to maximize efforts and inspire millions of people already working on the issue and invite new activists to the cause, ultimately, strengthening the movement to return freedom to the millions of people robbed of their dignity every day.