Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights

2002-2003: Kevin Bales

Dr. Kevin Bales

Kevin BalesThe fifth annual University of Alberta Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights was delivered by Dr. Kevin Bales on Monday, March 17, 2003 at 7:30 p.m. at the Myer Horowitz Theatre.

About Kevin Bales

Kevin Bales is the world's leading expert on contemporary slavery. A professor of sociology at the University of Surrey, Roehampton in London and consultant to the UN on slavery and trafficking, Kevin has spent 8 years researching slavery, traveling to 5 continents.

He has published internationally recognized, ground-breaking research, including the book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, which has been published in six languages and has become the catalyst for the growing U.S. movement against slavery. Dr. Bales has compiled 25 years of social research and teaching, while he also has extensive experience creating, growing and managing a successful business.

Past employment includes serving as Chief Research Officer for BBC Interactive Television Unit; Director of the Lyndhurst Sentencing Project (included drafting of legislation) and Director (and co-founder) of Pell and Bales, Ltd., now Britain's largest charity fundraising company. A native of Oklahoma, he has degrees from Oklahoma State University (BA), University of Mississippi (MA), and the London School of Economics (MSc PhD).

He is a trustee of Anti-Slavery International and a consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings, to the Economic Community of West African States, and to the U.S., British, Irish, Norwegian and Nepali governments. Bales began studying slavery in the early 1990s, when few Westerners realized it still existed. Unable to secure funding for his research, he took on a commercial research project and devoted the profits to travel. The outcome - his book Disposable People - was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. His work won the Premio Viareggio for services to humanity in 2000, and a television documentary based on it (shown on HBO and on Britain's Channel 4) won a Peabody Award in 2000.

Free the Slaves Director Kevin Bales, as the world's leading modern slavery expert, stays busy traveling all over the US and the world to deliver talks and interview, such as:

  • Speaking at universities and colleges like Dartmouth, Columbia, Arcadia, Harvard, Eureka, Connecticut, Wake Forest, California-Davis and more
  • Speaking at the American Anthropological Association
  • Testifying before Congress and consulting for the United Nations
  • On television and radio, including National Public Radio, PBS, and NBC Dateline
  • Coverage in major newspapers and magazines such as Scientific American, Sun Magazine, New York Times, Boston Globe, and Hope Magazine

A recent success for Free the Slaves is the forging of an alliance of human rights organizations, the Ivory Coast and US governments and the chocolate industry to work together to bring slavery in the cocoa industry to an end.