ELKINS – Human trafficking takes many forms, affecting people internationally, domestically, and even in rural communities such as West Virginia. Dr. Mary Burke, co-founder of the Project to End Human Trafficking, will present a free public lecture, “What You Should Know About Human Trafficking,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 in The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum in Myles Center for the Arts on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.
The presentation is sponsored by D&E’s Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy. Refreshments will be available afterward.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Burke, a psychologist with expertise in human trafficking who does research on the insidious effects of modern human exploitation, both domestically and internationally,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Dr. Bryan Wagoner, who also serves as director of the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy. “Dr. Burke’s work and her presentation at D&E directly connect to psychology, criminology, political science and philosophy. Yet the issues she raises are questions we all must face: to what degree are we complicit through ignorance and inaction, and what can we – as individuals and as a community – do to increase awareness and promote justice? Local organizations like Women’s Aid in Crisis are on the front lines of this issue, and I hope D&E will be empowered to join them and other advocacy organizations after Professor Burke’s presentation.”
In 2004, Burke co-founded the Project to End Human Trafficking, an all-volunteer United States based non-profit group that works regionally, nationally and internationally to raise awareness about the enslavement and economic exploitation of people. She began anti-trafficking coalitions in Pennsylvania and Virginia and consulted on the development of coalitions in other regions. In addition, she has spoken to various state and regional elected officials in Pennsylvania and Virginia and has worked on legislation in support of strengthening human trafficking laws. Burke also served on Pennsylvania’s Senate Resolution 253 Advisory Committee, which was established for the purpose of making recommendations to the State’s General Assembly regarding human trafficking in Pennsylvania.
Current international work is focused in Uganda where Burke and her team work collaboratively with citizens to prevent trafficking through school and community-based programming. Access to education and therapeutic services for women and child sex trafficking survivors is also part of the effort in the Soroti and Lira areas of northern Uganda, a region traumatically impacted by armed conflict for more than 20 years.
In addition to her work with Project to End Human Trafficking, Burke is a professor of psychology at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she is faculty in the doctoral degree program in counseling psychology and in the master’s degree program in counseling.