Date of Graduation

Spring 5-20-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs


College of Arts and Sciences


Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good

First Advisor

Sarah Burgess

Second Advisor

Tim Redmond


Human trafficking is a growing problem globally. Recent data indicates that airports are one of the few locations that victims can be identified and removed from a human trafficking situation. As a result, US airports have been working to raise awareness through public campaigns and employee trainings. The San Francisco International Airport, for example, created a campaign that directly appeals to victims in private spaces. To understand the effectiveness and implications of the campaign, I ask the following research question: how is the SFO campaign constructed to intervene in human trafficking? What are the limits and possibilities of this campaign? I argue that the campaign at SFO is victim-centered and trauma-informed, which creates a safe avenue of communication for victims to report trafficking. The possibilities of this campaign emerge from a collaboration between city officials and prominent non-profit organizations that aim not only to support and aid victims, but also to raise public awareness of the issue. I show, however, that the campaign is limited by the ways SFO carries out the intervention when victims reach out for help. By responding to human trafficking calls from the sticker with uniformed law enforcement, SFO risks traumatizing victims or causing them to be less cooperative in the investigation process. Drawing on the work of Eric Corthay, I propose several policy recommendations that might serve as a model for other airports looking to implement similar programs. This thesis project is important because it addresses the possibility of trauma-informed and victim-centered human trafficking intervention in aviation settings. Ultimately, I argue that an airport’s intervention response to a victim must be in line with the victim-centered aspects of the campaign itself.