A Lutheran minister with a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, Rev. David Beckmann spoke on campus twice this past week, offering perspective on business and the poor as well as his life as a “missionary economist.” Beckmann will appear Fri., April 11 as a guest on “Bill Moyers Journal,” a weekly PBS program, to discuss how the 2002 U.S. Farm Bill impacts low-income families and poor farmers.
Rev. Beckmann, whose visit to Belmont was sponsored by the Office of Spiritual Development and the Center for Business Ethics, served for several years on the board of Bread for the World before becoming president of the organization in 1991. Bread for the World is a grass-roots, Christian citizens’ movement against hunger. Its 56,000 members and member churches urge the U.S. government to take actions to reduce hunger, both domestic and international. Rev. Beckmann is also president of Bread for the World Institute, which does research and education on hunger.
In Wednesday’s convocation lecture for students, Beckmann encouraged them to connect their faith and ethics to their future professions, whatever they might be. “You can go into business with a purpose, a moral purpose… If we think God is concerned about justice and poverty, then we need to weigh in on those issues.”
In addition to his Master of Science in Economics, Beckmann also earned a Master of Divinity from Christ Seminary in St. Louis and an undergraduate degree from Yale University. He has received honorary doctorates from Villanova University, the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and Capital University. He is also fluent in Spanish.
Beckmann served in a church-supported development program in rural Bangladesh from 1975-76. He then moved to the World Bank for 15 years, where as a World Bank economist he played a prominent role in the Bank’s heightened focus on poverty reduction and fostered greater collaboration between the Bank and grassroots groups that work for poor people. He supervised slum improvement projects, later wrote speeches for the president of the Bank, and finally led the Bank’s efforts to engage with religious, environmental and other grass-roots groups around the world.
The founder and president of the Alliance to End Hunger, Beckmann has written many books, including Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World, Transforming the Politics of Hunger and Friday Morning Reflections at the World Bank.