LOWELL, Mass. – Noy Thrupkaew, whose investigative reporting has exposed human trafficking and labor exploitation across the globe, has been named UMass Lowell’s 2017 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies. Previous scholars include 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee.
Thrupkaew’s research, writing and public speaking about human trafficking shines a light on how the use of violence, fraud or coercion is used to force people into a range of roles not of their choosing. Her 2015 TED Talk, which has been viewed online more than 88,000 times, shares her realization as an adult that her childhood nanny was the victim of human trafficking. This discovery inspired her to work to expose the practice and advocate for improvements in law-enforcement response in order to stop it.
Thrupkaew has investigated some of the largest human trafficking cases in the United States, from uncovering human rights abuses of Thai farmers brought to the country for cheap labor to the plight of Indian metalworkers rebuilding oil rigs after Hurricane Katrina under threat of deportation. She has also delved into the complexity of issues behind prostitution in Southeast Asia and has filed stories from countries including Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, Iran, Morocco, Thailand and Vietnam. A contributing editor at The American Prospect, her reporting has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, National Geographic and The Nation, along with Ms. and Marie Claire magazines.
She has received fellowships from the Open Society Institute, the Fulbright Program, the Pew Foundation and the American Prospect. The recipient of Fulbright and International Reporting Project grants, she is a former editor of the Boston-based feminist newspaper Sojourner: The Women’s Forum and has taught classes about how to conduct international investigations.
As the Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies at UMass Lowell, Thrupkaew will lead a series of programs for students, faculty, staff and the community next month.
“I'm so honored to serve as this year's Greeley Scholar, to explore the living meaning of justice and peace with a community that draws on a rich, complex history of organizing in support of workers’ rights and the vibrancy of migrant and refugee experience,” she said.
Greeley Scholars are selected for their humanitarian achievements and ability to effectively promote peace and conflict resolution at the local, regional, national or international level. The honor is named for Rev. Dana McLean Greeley, a longtime Unitarian Universalist minister in Concord.
Thrupkaew was chosen for the honor from among 20 international leaders working to stop human trafficking, said Robert Gamache, the UMass Lowell professor emeritus who co-directs the Greeley Scholar Advisory Committee and the university’s Peace and Conflict Studies Institute (PACSI) with Imogene Stulken, campus minister.
“Noy Thrupkaew’s research and dedication to the topic identify her as a true scholar, but it was her TED Talk that convinced me. Because she experienced the effects of trafficking, she brings forth a passion that separates her from other speakers. Her time on campus will give the UMass Lowell community and the public the opportunity to learn from a giant in the field,” Gamache said.
Thrupkaew will headline “A Crisis from Which We Bleed: Resisting Economic Injustice Across the Divide” at UMass Lowell’s annual Day Without Violence on Tuesday, April 4 at 12:30 p.m. The free event will be held at the O’Leary Library Learning Commons on the university’s South Campus at 61 Wilder St., Lowell. Free parking will be available across the street from the venue. For more about the Day Without Violence and other local appearances by Thrupkaew, see www.uml.edu/Research/PACSI/Day-Without-Violence.aspx
As a Greeley Scholar, she joins an esteemed list of human-rights leaders who have also received the honor. They are 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Gbowee, a grassroots organizer who helped end the Second Liberian Civil War; women’s rights activist and peace-builder Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini; Albie Sachs, an architect of South African democracy and contemporary of Nelson Mandela; John Prendergast, founder of The Enough Project, who frequently collaborates with George Clooney; Linda Biehl, who forgave the South African men who killed her daughter Amy and now teaches about restorative justice and reconciliation with them; Padraig O’Malley, who works for peace in Northern Ireland; and the late Gavriel Salomon, who founded and directed the Center for Research on Peace Education in Israel.
The Greeley Scholar program is funded by the Greeley Endowment for Peace Studies, established with a gift from the Dana McLean Greeley Foundation for Peace and Justice and a contribution from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts via the UMass Foundation.
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 17,750 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu