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CenHTRO Hosts Georgia-Based Human Trafficking Researchers For Virtual Symposium

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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By Hope Dockweiler (

On Friday, April 15, 2022, the Center on Human Trafficking Research and Outreach virtually hosted the first-ever Georgia Human Trafficking Research Symposium.

The inaugural event provided a space for connection and collaboration to occur between experts from across Georgia who are researching various populations and phenomena regarding the issue of trafficking in persons. 

Inviting Georgia-based researchers to engage in this way allowed the CenHTRO team to formally present the center and its mission. We reiterated our objective to assist, support, encourage, and facilitate the continuation of research on this issue across local, state, national, and international levels. 

Nearly twenty researchers representing various academic institutions and research bodies joined the symposium. Emory University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, and the University of Georgia were all represented. 

Symposium participants represented interdisciplinary efforts in human trafficking research, including public health, social work, law, and history. 

“The gathering targeted Georgia-based researchers to explore challenges and opportunities in human trafficking research in the state,” said CenHTRO director David Okech. “CenHTRO continues to lead initiatives in research, not only internationally, but also now here in Georgia.”

Dr. Okech welcomed attendees and introduced the center. Associate Director Dr. Claire Bolton delivered a brief presentation on the research and implementation work CenHTRO has already accomplished and the work the center is still actively pursuing. 

The majority of the gathering, however, was used for constructive conversation that made space for all participant voices to be included. Two breakout conversations—one on labor trafficking and one on sex trafficking—facilitated fruitful discussions. 

Participants considered the inaugural symposium a success, not only because of the opportunity to share insights, but because the event offered an opportunity to vocalize a professional need. Researchers shared the desire for a collaborative space where they’d be able to come together to assist, challenge, support, and give valuable feedback to one another. Several attendees shared their hope for CenHTRO to provide such an opportunity on a regular basis. 

CenHTRO predoctoral fellow Elyssa Schroeder and CenHTRO Program Intern and Graduate Research Assistant Hope Dockweiler organized the event, guided by Dr. Okech and Dr. Bolton. 

Hope Dockweiler is a CenHTRO Program Intern and Graduate Research Assistant. She is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at the University of Georgia.