• University of Nottingham

Ending Slavery: Strategies for Contemporary Global Abolition

There are 45.8 million slaves alive today. Find out how we might achieve a slavery-free world with this free online course.

8,428 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    5 hours

There are more slaves alive today than at any point in history. Around the world, nearly 46 million people are forced to work against their will for no pay. Responding to this challenge over the past 20 years, a new antislavery movement has shown us that a world without slavery is possible. Now is your chance to learn about this major human rights issue with the world’s first massive open online course about contemporary slavery.

Understand contemporary slavery

You’ll learn from experts at the cutting edge of human rights research, and you’ll investigate the complex systems that sustain slavery today.

You will consider:

  • Different forms of slavery
  • Ground-breaking research about slavery’s measurement and definition
  • Strategies for ending slavery at the local, national and international levels
  • The roles of governments, businesses, technology, legislation and enslaved people themselves in ending slavery

Explore the historical context of slavery

The new UN Sustainable Development Goals now call for an end to global slavery by 2030, but how can we achieve this? To end slavery in the future, first we must look to the past. On the course we will look at the historical context of slavery and antislavery. What antislavery techniques have worked to date? Do past antislavery movements offer any lessons? Is historical antislavery a usable past for today’s efforts?

Learn from experts in the field

This course is supported by the AHRC Care for the Future research grant “The Antislavery Usable Past” and features research and teaching from experts in human rights and in past and present antislavery. It is taught by Professor Kevin Bales, the world’s leading expert on contemporary slavery and one of the leaders of the antislavery movement, along with Professor Zoe Trodd, a leading expert on antislavery, and Dr. Katie Donington, a slavery historian.

You will have access to the most cutting-edge research available in this area and be part of brainstorming a new guide for ending slavery that covers every level, from the individual to the United Nations.

On this course you have the chance to not only learn about slavery and antislavery, but also debate and shape solutions for the next phase of the contemporary antislavery movement. This course is an essential experience for anyone who wants to be part of a great human rights battle of our time.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds For the last 20 years, I’ve traveled the world, often going undercover, meeting people in slavery and learning about their lives and how they might come to freedom. That knowledge and the experiences and voices of many other experts, including freed slaves, have gone into this course. It is four weeks of exploration, study, and debate that will not just illuminate the reality of slavery today, but how we can bring it to an end, and all that time, learning from the rich history of past anti-slavery movements. Together, through this course, we’ll explore the size and the shape of slavery today. We’ll trace how slave-made goods reach into our lives, and how we can act against slavery as consumers.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds We’ll see how ethnic and religious conflict is driving people towards enslavement and how enslaved people are used to destroy the natural world, making a major contribution to climate change and global warming. We’ll learn about enslaved resistance and how satellites can now help us find and liberate enslaved people. And perhaps most importantly, we’re going to listen to the voices of enslaved people– from the past and from today. And we’re going to learn from them the true lived experience of slavery. To bring you this knowledge and lead our exploration, we’ve assembled a remarkable team of experts– policy leaders, historians, activists, and evolutionists. The 45 million slaves alive today are the smallest part of the global population to ever be enslaved.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds Their economic output, about 100 billion pounds per year, is the smallest fraction of the global economy ever produced by slavery. Slavery is illegal in every country. Pushed to the criminal edges of our global society, the truth is that slavery is standing on the edge of its own extinction. We stand at a turning point in human history when slavery, with the right resources and solutions, can be brought to an end, when we can destroy forever the great lie that some people are less than human and can be enslaved.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 seconds And we are counting on you to help figure out how best to bring slavery to an end, working together with us on this course, exploring, and challenging, and together, building a world without slavery.

What topics will you cover?

  • Key facts, figures, definitions, causes and predictors for contemporary slavery
  • The similarities and differences between historical and contemporary slavery
  • Potential strategies that contemporary antislavery might adapt from historical antislavery
  • The strategies of past antislavery movements at the international, national and local levels
  • Ideas for how businesses and industry-wide initiatives can combat slavery
  • Ideas for how we can use technology like satellites to combat slavery
  • The connection between ending slavery and combating environmental destruction
  • The role of legislation and country-level plans in combatting slavery today
  • The strategy of community-based liberation and individual action
  • The antislavery ideas of enslaved people themselves via their narratives

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Investigate slavery throughout history and in today’s world
  • Assess the strategies of past antislavery movements
  • Explore ideas for ending contemporary slavery at the international, national and local levels
  • Engage with new antislavery solutions to help design a new blueprint for ending slavery

Who is the course for?

No prior knowledge is necessary, all are welcome. The course is particularly relevant for human rights and NGO workers, teachers, students, activists, supply chains professionals, lawyers, and law enforcement professionals.

If you want to explore these themes in more depth, the University Of Nottingham also offers a Slavery and Liberation MA starting in October 2017.

Who will you learn with?

Professor Zoe Trodd is director of the Rights Lab, a University of Nottingham Beacon of Excellence, and co-director of the university's Research Priority Area in Rights and Justice

I'm one of the educators on this MOOC and very excited to be part of it.

I am a Post-Doctoral Research fellow with the Antislavery Usable Past project at the University of Nottingham.

PhD student researching nineteenth century slavery and abolition, specifically focusing on the legacy of African Americans on British society and the strategies they used to fight against slavery.

Rosemary Pearce is currently completing a PhD in American Studies at the University of Nottingham, where she is a member of the Centre for Research in Race and Rights.

Who developed the course?

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring students with world-leading research and benefitting communities all around the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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