Montclair State University has launched a new multi-disciplinary effort — the Global Center on Human Trafficking.

What began as a university program spearheaded by a group of leaders, volunteers, faculty and staff, the center has grown into a worldwide initiative working hand-in-hand with survivors to transform the response to human trafficking, according to a Wednesday press release from the university. 

"The Global Center on Human Trafficking will be at the forefront of transforming the way we prevent and respond to this complex crime," Center Director Ali Boak said in the release. "By most indicators, more people are being trafficked and fewer traffickers are being punished. I'm excited about the transformative power of the survivor involvement that is at the heart of the Global Center on Human Trafficking."

Currently, a team of professors and staff from MSU are conducting a study to identify the methods of data reporting by agencies across New Jersey and develop a model of human trafficking data collection that addresses current systemic shortcomings.

"The Global Center on Human Trafficking will strengthen collaboration and communication among key stakeholder groups around the world," founder and board chair Mimi Feliciano said in the release. "We need to eliminate barriers and work together to develop innovative responses to the world's fastest growing criminal enterprise."

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, New Jersey ranked 13th in the nation for the number of human trafficking cases reported in 2019. Despite that, very few reliable statistics exist about the prevalence of human trafficking in New Jersey. To that end, a focus of the GCHT will be addressing human trafficking in New Jersey through research and innovative programming, the press release said.

"While we are a global center, our work to better understand and end human trafficking starts right here on the Montclair State University campus and in our own home state of New Jersey," Boak said in the release.

The GCHT is also collaborating with Karana Rising, a survivor led nonprofit serving survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, to develop a joint initiative known as the Global Survivor Collaborative.

Through the Collaborative and its "Flip the Script" campaign, leaders will work to build a network of survivor leaders and advocates from across the world committed to transforming the response to human trafficking by fostering survivor created and led policies, programs, research and advocacy, the press release said. 

For more information on the Global Center on Human Trafficking, visit the Center's page on the Montclair State website.