Bales Author PhotoUC Press author and activist Kevin Bales was recently honored with the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. Bales, president of Free the Slaves, a human rights organization based in Washington, D.C., won the $100,000 annual prize for ideas set forth in his 2007 UC Press book, Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves.

In the book, Bales outlines steps to end the enslavement of some 27 million people worldwide. Slavery and human trafficking are tightly interwoven into the modern global economy, so new political and economic policies must be enacted to suppress them, he says.

Slavery, illegal in every country but still widely practiced, can be stopped within 30 years at a cost of less than $20 billion, a much cheaper price tag than most other social problems, he argues. Several high-profile organizations already have adopted elements of Bales’ plan.

Ending Slavery cover“Bales lays out an urgent human challenge, offers ways to make a difference and challenges the reader to become part of the solution,” award jurors said. Five Grawemeyer Awards are presented each year for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, education and religion. UC Press last won the Grawemeyer Award for Mark Juergensmeyer’s book Terror in the Mind of God.

Kevin Bales is founder and president of Free the Slaves, the U.S. sister organization of Anti-Slavery International. Since 2001, his group has liberated thousands of slaves in India, Nepal, Haiti, Ghana, Brazil, Ivory Coast and Bangladesh. He is the author of numerous UC Press books, including Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader, and The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today.