In this course, we will read, think, discuss and write about issues in human trafficking and other forms of labour exploitation that exist in the modern world, such as prostitution, forced labour and migrant labour.  These various forms of labour exploitation have always been referred to as modern-day slavery.  Questions that we will discuss include, but are not limited to: 

  • Why are trafficked, bonded and forced labour forms of modern slavery?
  • What factors contributed to the various forms of modern slavery?
  • How is human trafficking defined by the UN Trafficking Protocol (2000)?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of this Protocol?  
  • What are the problems of some existing approaches in combating human trafficking?
  • Is it morally correct to appeal to utilitarian calculations to justify exploiting domestic and migrant labour?
  • Are migrant labourers entitled to any rights?  Why?

The syllabus is divided into two units. While the first unit introduces students to different forms of human trafficking, the second unit explores debates among scholars concerning what should be done about various forms of slave-like exploitation.

Skill Objectives

The primary objective of this course is to develop our skills in writing academic arguments. A good academic argument, however, very often begins with a careful reading of and exciting intellectual exchanges about source texts. Hence, we will make use of a variety of source texts as our starting point. Students are required to do the readings in advance, and actively engage in class discussions about them. In addition to enabling us to understand source texts, class discussions give us the opportunity to practice the skills that we need in argumentative writing, for example, skills in formulating and defending an interesting thesis, critically analyzing passages, effectively addressing counter-arguments, and logically structuring multiple strands of argument. Students will also be required to peer-review one another’s written work, so that they will in turn improve in diagnosing problems in their own essays and in coming up with fixes for those problems.

Structure of Writing Assignments

Students are required to write two argumentative papers, the first one to be due in Week 7, and the second in Week 14. Students write their first paper on the materials that they read and discuss in class. In their second paper, students have to do their own research on a topic of their own choice.