Alumni Profile: An Interview with Dr. Kevin Bales

Photo from kevinbales.net

Photo from kevinbales.net

Dr. Kevin Bales received his BA in social anthropology from the University of Oklahoma in 1974. He is currently a professor of contemporary slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in the UK. Dr. Bales is a globally renowned figure in the anti-trafficking movement. He has written over fourteen books on the subject, having spent the past four decades researching it. He co-founded Free the Slaves, a key anti-trafficking nonprofit. His most recent book, Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World, explores the dangerous intersection of modern slavery and climate change.

What got him interested in human trafficking:

“I picked up a leaflet at a public event. It said “There are millions of slaves in the world today.” I didn’t believe it and set out to see what the real situation was, which led me to….millions of slaves!”

His favorite memory of OU:

“So many, feeling my brain literally expanding toward explosion in philosophy, Chinese history, and anthropology lectures; happy hours playing and hanging out; finding love, losing love, finding, etc., etc.”

Advice for current OU students looking to make a difference:
“Don’t ask ‘what should I study to change the world?’ Study and pursue what you love, what blows your mind – and then use that knowledge and passion as tools to make a difference.”


Alexandra Goodman is a junior professional writing major minoring in art history and German. She loves reading, writing, and art museums and spends inordinate amounts of time driving on I-40.

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