SOAS University of London

SOAS Director’s Lecture Series: Philanthropy and Social Justice: how can philanthropic funding deliver social justice?

26 January 2022

A conversation between Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation and Mark Malloch-Brown, President of the Open Society Foundations, moderated by Professor Adam Habib, SOAS Director. Sign up for this event via Eventbrite.

Oxfam recently reported that since March 2020 the ten richest people in the world have more than doubled their collective fortunes yet more people are living in poverty as a result of the pandemic. Do the world’s richest have a moral obligation to share their wealth and if so, how can this be done with social justice in mind?

Many of the world’s richest billionaires engage in philanthropic work donating billions. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made the largest donation to fight climate change last year. But he also spent around £5.5bn on space exploration with many critics arguing the two missions are at odds with each other. Others have launched successful foundations to research and tackle issues such as poverty, disease, education and inequality around the world.

These examples of philanthropy have garnered both praise and criticism over the years and with the actions of billionaires increasingly in the spotlight, it raises questions surrounding philanthropy and social justice. There are more philanthropists than ever before, so why is inequality increasing and how can philanthropy be a force for positive change globally? 

As part of this series, we invite you to join us on 14 February 2022 for a conversation between Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation and Mark Malloch-Brown, President of the Open Society Foundations as they discussing “Philanthropy and its role in addressing inequalities and advancing social justice”.

This is the second event in the SOAS Director’s Lecture Series, following the event on vaccination inequality in an interconnected world last year, where SOAS Director Professor Adam Habib will lead discussions with high profile leaders and changemakers regarding important topics of our time. 

SOAS Director Professor Adam Habib said: “The SOAS Director’s Lecture Series will feature leading experts to address and debate the global challenges of our time. With increases in global inequalities, social and political polarisation, the uncertainties surrounding climate change and future pandemics, the series brings leaders and changemakers together to focus on and confront these transnational issues. The question of philanthropy and social justice is an essential subject to explore when addressing these global issues and I look forward to chairing an engaging discussion with Mark and Darren.” 

The SOAS Director’s Lecture Series focuses on the planetary questions of our time and how to enable a collective human response. In this historical moment, all of our big challenges – pandemics, climate change, inequality, social and political polarisation – are transnational in character and require a cohering of the human community.

Sign up for this event via Eventbrite.

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