Skip to main content

Modern Slavery and Social Sustainability Research Group

A high profile, cutting edge, proactive research collaboration on modern slavery and social sustainability, the first of its kind in Wales and the UK.

Cardiff Business School is an AACSB International and AMBA-accredited business school with a clear public value purpose: to make a positive impact in the communities of Wales and the world. SPARK is Cardiff University’s new social science research park; a state-of-the-art interactive space that brings together thirteen world-leading social science research centres.

With expertise in applied social science research, including education, health, civil society, labour markets, public policy, and innovation and with practitioners, policymakers and community stakeholders, SPARK acts as a catalyst for change by inspiring the out-of-the-ordinary thinking we need for the complex challenges of our time.

Working together, Cardiff Business School and SPARK have significant potential to establish and drive an international reputation for Cardiff University in research and real-world impact on modern slavery and social sustainability. Modern slavery is a complex and concealed issue, challenging for research efforts exploring its full nature and extent. Research on sustainability tends to over-focus on economic and environmental aspects at the expense of social sustainability.

Whilst research groups and centres focusing on modern slavery exist, there is no dedicated research collaboration on modern slavery within the context of social sustainability in Wales. These fields have a shared focus on people, human rights, equity, diversity, inclusion and social cohesion.

The unique legislative and policy context produced by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 provides a conducive environment to explore both modern slavery and social sustainability feeding into ‘what works’ for both current and future generations


We will work with key partners across academia, industry, business, the public and voluntary sectors to build shared expertise and reputation - and to provide evidence-based solutions to challenges in - this field.  As such, we will have significant potential to inform evidence-based policy and practice at multiple levels, making a positive impact for communities in Wales, the UK and on an international scale.

As a research group, we will:

  • encourage and enable inter-disciplinary and multi-sector research collaboration at quality and with impact on policy and practice
  • be action-focused, agile, well-positioned and equipped to quickly collaborate and respond to opportunities for research and funding as they arise
  • adapt and innovate to develop and share relevant and effective methodologies and ethical positioning for impactful, safe research in this domain
  • drive an international reputation for Cardiff University in research and real-world impact on modern slavery and social sustainability


Modern slavery will be this Group’s primary priority research focus. Aligning with the declared sub-groups of the Welsh Government’s Anti-Slavery Forum for Wales (ASFW), research will be organised around the following themes:

  • training and awareness
  • victims and survivors
  • prevention
  • supply chains and international

However, the Research Group will also be open to proactively exploring other areas of interest and innovation in this field as well as in the broader domain of social sustainability.

With modern slavery a highly sensitive, high risk and dynamic, societal phenomenon, this group will also explore, adapt and innovate to develop and share relevant, effective methodologies and ethical positioning for impactful, safe research in this domain.


Examples of projects where co-leads of the Research Group are currently principal investigators:

  • Dr Anna Skeels, principal investigator. Support for children with lived experience of modern slavery in England and Wales. 2023, UKRI Fellowship, Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre (MSPEC) (£100,000).
  • Dr Maryam Lotfi, ESRC Wales DTP Collaborative studentship 2023 of £155000, for the project of “Understanding and modelling the impact of consumer purchasing behavior on the global supply chains' decisions in adapting anti-slavery practices” (2023-2027). This is a collaboration with UNSEEN, a UK based anti-slavery charity.The funding gives the opportunity for a PhD student to be recruited and work on the project and the supervisory team includes Dr Maryam Lotfi,  Dr. Bahman Rostmai Tabar, Dr. Nicole Koenig-Lewis and Professor Anatoly Zhigljavsky.
  • Dr Maryam Lotfi, main applicant and main investigator, Seedcorn fund of Global Collaboration, internal from Cardiff Business School (£5000), "Modern slavery risk management in the hospitality sector: a moral legitimacy approach on hotel groups disclosure and an institutional logics approach on accepting responsibility", 2023.This project is in collaboration with University of Queensland, Australia.
  • Dr Maryam Lotfi and Professor Yingli Wang, Public Value Engagement Fellowship funding of £5000, "Netting Ethical Shrimp: How Technology Can Revolutionize Sustainable Seafood Practices”, Internal Cardiff Business School Public Value Engagement Fellowship Scheme, (2023-2024). This project is in collaboration with Bangladesh Agriculture university and Cardiff Metropolitan University.
A group of 15 people standing in a row for a photograph. They are behind tables and in front of screens which read 'Modern Slavery & Sustainability (MSSS) Research Group'
Modern Slavery and Social Sustainability Research Group event

Meet the team

Research Group Co-leads

Picture of Maryam Lotfi

Dr Maryam Lotfi

Senior Lecturer of Sustainable Supply Chain Management

+44 29225 10877


Past Events

2023 Anti-Slavery Wales Conference

Find out more

Modern Slavery and Social Sustainability Research Group: Kick-off Workshop

Thursday 27 Jul 2023

Please join us for a Kick-Off Workshop for the Modern Slavery and Social Sustainability Research Group in Room 6.35, sbarc | spark, Cardiff University.

In brief, the agenda for the workshop will include:

  • coffee and pastries on arrival
  • welcome and introduction to the MSSS Research Group (Dr Maryam Lotfi, Dr Anna Skeels)
  • ‘lightning talks’
  • lunch
  • break-out groups focused on two themes (individuals at risk: victims and survivors; supply chain modern slavery risk management)
  • conclusion and next steps

The workshop will be facilitated by Dr Maryam Lotfi, Lecturer of Supply Chain Management from Cardiff business School and Dr Anna Skeels from SPARK.

The workshop is supported by the Kickstarter Funding 2023 from Security, Crime and Intelligence Innovation and Institute.