Supported by Washington University’s Institute for Public Health, the Human Trafficking Collaborative Network (HTCN) is an informal network of researchers, students and community partners with a common interest in improving understanding of human trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable populations.

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Anti-human trafficking advocacy engagement: What motivates activism?

Advocacy for human rights, such as the anti-human trafficking movement, has relied on volunteerism and the good will of experts providing pro bono work. There is a lack of evidence-based research to examine factors that could increase political engagement dedicated to combating human trafficking and exploitation or similar forms of human rights violation. What helps community organizers enhance engagement and learning on human trafficking in the communities?

To answer this question, we utilized the concept of political efficacy – a belief that your actions can produce a political or social change and performing such duties is worthwhile. Using data from a survey conducted by the Human Trafficking Collaborative Network (HTCN) we sought to examine how political efficacy is linked with other political activities and advocates’ personal characteristics. Using a statistical technique called path analyses, our study found that the number of organizations a participant is involved in has significant effects on both their internal political efficacy and the number of human trafficking-related resources the participant is familiar with. The analysis also indicated that internal political efficacy “influences” the number of human trafficking-related events attended as well as the number of organizations the participant is a part of. We did not find an association of external political efficacy, or the belief that the government will respond to one’s demand, with any other measure. This may be due to the data having been collected during the Covid-19 pandemic, which coincided with the political turmoil in the US at the time. The results show that human trafficking educational events would increase advocates’ sense of empowerment, which in turn improves community engagement.

This work was supported by the Institute for Public Health’s Public Health-Cubed funding mechanism.

Post-COVID-19 Anti-Human Trafficking Strategies

In July, 2020, HTCN hosted a two-part series in collaboration with the United Nations Association (UNA-USA) of St. Louis and National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)-St. Louis. Part II and held a two-part webinar series titled “Post-Covid19 Anti-Trafficking Strategies”. Part I “Global Perspectives on Trafficking in Persons Counter Measures” included the plans in mitigating the anticipated increase in numbers of vulnerable populations around the world as well as how supply side global networks will change during and in the post-Covid19 era.  Part II “Virtual Town Hall with Missouri and Illinois Legislators” was an interactive session with three Missouri and Illinois legislators.

Watch on Vimeo.

Collaborate with US

The Human Trafficking Collaborative Network was created in 2015 when four core faculty members  – Drs. Tonya Edmond, Andrea Nichols, Rumi Price, and Kathleen Thimsen – discovered that each was engaged in anti-trafficking/exploitation work, but in different areas. HTCN is currently governed by the Steering Committee and Student Committee.

For more information, contact Rumi Price at

Our Team


Rumi Kato Price, PhD MPE
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine

Academic partners

Erica Koegler, PhD, MSW
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Missouri St. Louis

Community partners

Emily Myers, DNP, RN, CPNC-PC
Assistant Professor, Goldfarb School of Nursing

Marilen Pitler
Board member, National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis.

Luz Rooney
Board member, the United National Association, St. Luis Chapter. 

Advisory board

Tonya E. Edmond, PhD
Founding member and associate dean, Brown School of Social Work

Brian Froelke, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine.