Thompson Forum lectures begin Sept. 30


Author E. Benjamin Skinner will expose the fast-growing criminal industry of human trafficking in a Sept. 30 lecture at UNL, the first in the 2010-11 season of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.

His lecture, "A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery," begins at 7 p.m. at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The lecture is co-sponsored by UNL's second annual Human Trafficking Conference.

In his book that shares the title of his lecture, Skinner shares the stories of those who have illegally been sold into slavery, their captors, those who have escaped from bondage and the political motives of those working to stop the growing industry.

The story of modern-day slavery grabbed his attention in 2003 while he was a writer covering the Sudanese civil war. He has since witnessed negotiations for the sale of human beings on four continents.

Formally, slavery has been abolished under international law for more than 150 years, said UNL law professor Brian Lepard. But the fact is, he said, slavery persists and contemporary forms of slavery are actually increasing in many parts of the world.

"I think the public should know that this is a grave problem that affects people from around the world, primarily women and children, but also men," Lepard said. "It occurs right here in America and right here in Nebraska."

A recently named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Skinner is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He previously served as a research assistant for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His articles have appeared in Newsweek International, Travel and Leisure, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald and Foreign Policy.

All Thompson Forum lectures are free and open to the public, but require a ticket to attend. Tickets are free and guarantee a reserved seat. To reserve tickets, call the Lied Center at (402) 472-4747 or (800) 432-3231. Tickets may also be picked up in person, or ordered by downloading a form from the Thompson Forum website,

The theme of this year's lecture series is "Globalization's Promise."

Thompson Forum lectures will be available live online at, as well as on Lincoln Time Warner Cable Channel 21 or 5, NETSAT 105, UNL campus Channel 8 and UNL's KRNU radio (90.3 FM). Live satellite broadcasts and follow-up discussion will be available in Kearney, Hastings, Columbus, McCook, North Platte, Omaha and Scottsbluff.

The series, established in 1988, is a cooperative project of the philanthropic Cooper Foundation, the Lied Center and UNL. It aims to offer all Nebraskans a better understanding of world events and issues.

- Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications

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