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SJU Conference Examines Human Rights through Lens of Sustainability

Monday, May 12, 2014

St. John’s University hosted its First Annual Conference on Forced Labor Slavery/Sustainable Consumption on the Queens, NY, campus. Sponsored by the Center for Global Development and the Title VI Program of the Department of Education, the May 3 conference educated approximately 200 participants about the persistence of forced labor in the chain of production in many of the goods consumed worldwide.

Leonardo Sakamoto, Ph.D., professor of journalism at the Pontifical University of Sao Paulo and founder and editor of Reporter Brazil, an online newspaper, spoke about the successful efforts of the Brazilian people in addressing labor slavery.

Xavier Plassat, who works with the Catholic Bishops of Brazil, addressed the group about the Pastoral Commission for Land Reform. “Through this Commission,” Plassat said, “we have successfully created awareness of the uses of land, especially the land on which Brazilians have been living for generations.”

Another participant, Rogenir da Costa, who works for Catholic Relief Services in South America, told the audience about her work rehabilitating individuals who have recently been freed from forced labor.

“St. John’s has always engaged its students and the community on issues relating to human exploitation,” said Basilio Monteiro, Ph.D., associate professor, Division of Mass C ommunications, Journalism, Television and Film. “As one of the largest Catholic universities in the country, with students from over 100 other countries, we are committed to addressing this pressing global issue.”