At Jacobs University the month of January is free without classes. This period is called intersession – the month between the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester. We do however have the option of taking intensive courses during intersession which usually have a duration of one to two weeks.
This year I was lucky enough to take an intersession course called Human Trafficking: An international perspective. It is taught by Professor Alexis Aronowitz, one of the prominent researchers in the field of human trafficking. She is a guest professor from the University of Utrecht and an independent consultant to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, the International Organization for Migration, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and many more.
The eight days of intersession were full of new information for me. We started the course with a definition of human trafficking and went on explore methodological problems when aggregating data on human trafficking. We then took a look at the causes of human trafficking, the victims, the perpetrators and lastly ways to combat human trafficking.
The course was very interactive and Professor Aronowitz encouraged discussions. Through student presentations we managed to get an in-depth look at individual countries and also regions from all over the world, which was fascinating, as human trafficking occurs in every country in some way or the other. The course was incredibly informative and eye-opening, but also quite depressing. We watched several documentaries on human trafficking in different parts of the world and some nearly brought me to tears. Despite the devastating facts we learned, Professor Aronowitz did manage to leave us with possible solutions and next steps that need to be made in order to combat this problem.
Some examples would be to reduce the stigma against victims of human trafficking, to aggregate reliable data and to understand the complexity of victimization. Furthermore, the cause of vulnerability of victims sometimes stems from personal and social factors but also from underlying structural factors that would need a larger cooperation within and between countries to combat.
Overall, this course opens your eyes to an often clandestine crime and the need international cooperation. I would recommend taking this course to anyone, no matter whether they are studying International Relations, like me, or Chemistry,Earth and Environmental Systems or Computer Science.
Some of the other courses offered during the last intersession were “Waste Management and Technology”, “Plankton Ecology”, “European Integration”, “Debating World Literature”, “Free Expression, Humor and Terror” and “Off-shore Wind Energy”. Intersession in general is a great way to get an in-depth look into a specific topic over a short period of time and at the same time a great way to get credits outside of the regular semester!