In this course, we will read, think, discuss and write about issues in human trafficking and other forms of slave-like labour exploitation that exist in the modern world, such as bonded labour and sweatshop labour. Questions that we will discuss include, but are not limited to: 

  • What factors contributed to the various forms of slave-like exploitation?
  • 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?
  • Economists claim that sweatshop job offers can improve the material condition of the workers.  Is that a good reason to maintain the status quo?

  • Are low-skilled 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 and/or slave-like exploitation, the second unit explores debates among scholars concerning what should be done about them.

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.