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The Human Trafficking Research Lab (HTRL) at Millikin University was established in 2018 to transform undergraduate performance learning projects into cutting edge human trafficking research. The HTRL team at Millikin University conducts policy relevant research on human trafficking within the United States and internationally.  Through the  Human Trafficking Research Lab,  we formulate human trafficking research at Millikin by training students to collect, analyze, and write up data results and disseminate these findings to the academic and local community. At Millikin University, our mission is to prepare students for professional success, democratic citizenship in a global environment, and a personal life of meaning and value and the HTRL@Millikin builds on this mission and provides practical hands-on experience with applied research for our students. Millikin University is a private four-year university located in Decatur, Illinois nationally recognized for its emphasis on

Presenting the Human Trafficking Vulnerability Assessment in Central Illinois

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Very recently, I was responsible for what I deemed to be my first “big” job as a member of the research lab team as part of the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force. Dr. Dean had me edit the Human Trafficking Vulnerability Assessment in Central Illinois and it was honestly really fun. I was excited to do something like this because I really haven’t ever done a professional job like this and it not be for a school assignment. The editing was pretty seamless honestly, with just a comma here, a hyphen there, and maybe putting “are” where it originally said “is”. All in all, it was straightforward, easy to do, and rewarding to finish. It was also kind of surreal to see something I had worked on included in the vulnerability assessment.  Once the edits were completed we presented our findings to the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force in one of our general membership meetings. The presentation was pretty neat too! I never have done a presentation outside of a classroom se

ASEEES Human Trafficking and the War in Ukraine Presentation

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Last weekend I went up to Chicago for the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Conference. This is a picture of me presenting my paper on human trafficking as an outcome of Russia's war in Ukraine on a panel War in Ukraine: Displacement, Health Services, and Human Trafficking. The research focused on the characteristics of human trafficking, conditions that create vulnerabilities in war, and prevention tools used to combat human trafficking in war. It analyzes and compares three different periods of anti-trafficking work in Ukraine before 2013, 2014-2021, and 2022 as a within-case study comparison of three time periods. Human trafficking is recognized as an outcome of war throughout history in wars across the globe and based on my significant research on human trafficking in Ukraine before the 2022, I wanted to discuss my different observations as a result of the full-scale invasion. I always take the train up to Chicago since then I can work on the train on

Association for Women in Slavic Studies Roundtable

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Last week I also p articipated in a two part roundtable discussion this morning sponsored by Association for Women in Slavic Studies for the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) entitled Gender, Sexuality, and Violence in the Context of the 2022 Escalation of Russia's War on Ukraine. It was an honor to be invited to participate in the roundtable and I discussed my research on human trafficking and the recent changes due to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.  We had a great discussion and lots of questions but my favorite was this undergraduate student from Howard University who tweeted about my presentation. Undergraduate students can attend the online convention for free and it was great to have so many join the discussions!  Looking forward to presenting the full paper on a migration themed panel at the the in-person conference in early November! 

Walk for Freedom 2022!

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For the fifth year in a row the lab made the journey to participate in the Walk for Freedom sponsored by A21 in Springfield, Illinois. Walk for Freedom is A21's global mobilization event, rallying thousands of people in hundreds of cities all over the world to raise awareness and funds to end human trafficking. I worked with A21 when I lived in Ukraine and was able to visit their shelter and job training facilities for victims of human trafficking. Every year I march in Springfield wearing my buttons from Ukraine in honor of them and their work.   This year Millikin donated lanyards to every walker and the research lab team tabled and talked about our research on human trafficking with other local anti-trafficking organizations and activists. The site for the walk is the old state capitol building which is still under renovations but still offers a great space in downtown Springfield for the walk with lost of pedestrian traffic.  Normally the walk is scheduled the same weekend as M

Coding Newspaper Articles on Human Trafficking in Russian

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This semester I have been working on a research project at the Human Trafficking Research Lab. I work to explore, analyze and trace the patterns of human trafficking within the given timeline. I am coding newspapers for a paper entitled "The Social Construction of Trafficking in Russian Media" and conducting a content analysis of Russian central and regional newspapers. Usually, while coding I go through two cycles of verification before deciding on a code. Once I code the paragraph or a specific sentence, I make sure that the given content fits the code descriptors and only then do I move to the following article. The gripping part of coding papers, which is also sometimes puzzling, is the dynamics between bias and objectivity. Throughout time it appears that the bias takes over the Russian media, hence, a decline in negative attitudes toward actors occurs.  The Human Trafficking Research Lab allows me to observe how empirical research can be carried out in practice. Another

Illinois Statewide Task Force on Human Trafficking

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I was recently appointed to serve on the Illinois Statewide Task Force on Human Trafficking! Over the past few weeks I have been attending my first meetings for Advocacy & Policy Workgroup and the larger task force and have learned a lot already about the wider anti-trafficking movement in Illinois. The larger task force meeting focused on a legislative advocacy & education training teaching us to how to find our legislator, track bills, and formulate one page policy briefs of your asks (I teach my students how to write these so it was great to see how they are used to inform legislators on human trafficking bills). I also learned how to file witness slips on bills to register my support, opposition, or no position on bills and it is a skill I plan to use in the future to advocate for more survivor informed trafficking legislation in the future! The Advocacy & Policy Workgroup meeting we talked about monitoring bills in the legislature and different methods for notifying th

A Lesson in Illinois Geography

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My first assignment as a research assistant was to tackle a spreadsheet full of a different foreign worker visas issued in Illinois. The aim was to filter out all of the entries that were not in the counties we cover in central Illinois for part of the Vulnerability Assessment that the lab is doing for our Department of Justice grant. This was an interesting task for me to take on because prior to doing it, my knowledge of Illinois geography was pretty much limited to the Macon County and Chicago areas. So even though a lot of what I was doing was just reading the name of towns, looking up the counties these towns were in, and then checking the map of the counties we cover, I still found it to be useful and engaging.  Now it’s kind of nice hearing the name of a city in Illinois and actually having a general idea of where it is.  My actual findings when applied to realm of foreign workers were fairly interesting. The first sheet, which covered agricultural foreign workers, and the third