Department ofReligious Studies


SCU Anti-Human Trafficking Study Group

Following a two-day workshop last year coordinated by the Diocese of San Jose’s Human Trafficking Network committee, Teresia Hinga and Jonathan Fung (Communication) decided to gather an interest group to raise awareness and inspire action at SCU about human trafficking. The group received a Bannan Institute grant and has continued to meet regularly. In addition to Hinga, who serves as chair, and Fung, the group includes three other members of the Religious Studies department: Jan Giddings, Karen Peterson-Iyer, and Joe Morris. The goal has been to study collaboratively and become informed on the multiple intersecting aspects of human trafficking, also referred to as modern day slavery. Both together and individually we work to develop processes and avenues whereby we can take what we have learned to disseminate information and motivate others to become aware and involved in anti-trafficking action.

On January 29th, we gathered both SCU and SJSU students along with a few community members (over 90 people) to view the film, Not My Life, which depicts “the cruel and dehumanizing practices of human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale” ( The discussion afterward was rich with students’ insightful comments and reaction to the multi-faceted problem of human trafficking.

The group has been involved in numerous activities in the classroom, on campus, in the community, and in the academy. Jan Giddings, who is also a lecturer at SJSU, has engaged over 600 students in research and campus-wide information days, bringing awareness to this local and global moral issue. In Spring 2015, Giddings will teach a unit on forced-Labor Trafficking in her Religious Ethics and Business course (TESP 164). Karen Peterson-Iyer, who presented a paper on the topic at the Society of Christian Ethics, has also developed and will be teaching a new course in the RS department entirely devoted to exploration/analysis of human trafficking: Human Trafficking and Christian Ethics (TESP 108). On February 27 and 28, Jonathan Fung, who is the faculty advisor for the Freedom Project: Students Against Human Trafficking Club, participated in their “Stand for Freedom“ event, in which SCU students stood for 27 consecutive hours to raise awareness regarding the 27 million people enslaved around the globe today. In addition, Fung continues to screen his award winning short film, “Hark,” which deals with human trafficking.

Under Hinga’s leadership, the SCU Anti-Human Trafficking Study Group will participate in a number of programs during the Spring quarter. The group, appreciates the invitation to share our story thus far through Perspectives, and we hope that our understanding of the issue will continue to grow and that more people will become involved in this increasingly global and local (glocal) project to end human trafficking and modern day slavery.

One event that the group has planned is a Human Trafficking Film viewing, happening on April 23th from 7:00PM to 9:00PM in the Wiegand Room. 

religious studies
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