Rory Stewart and philanthropy

Monday 5 June 2023   18:00 to 19:00


Rt Hon Rory Stewart, President, GiveDirectly; host, The Rest Is Politics; former UK Secretary of State for International Development

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The development of the world since 1989 has been defined first by an age of Optimism – an explosion in democracies and free-market systems – followed by a period of stagnation, and more recently the rise of populism and global conflict. Throughout this period, one of the most telling failures has been in the world’s inability to tackle extreme poverty – particularly in Africa. The hopes of the 1980s and 1990s from the Live Aid rock concerts through to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals have faded. The number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa has soared. Development aid has been cut around the world.

One of the fundamental drivers of this collapse is a spreading pessimism about the ability to do good and make an impact through giving. To combat isolationism, the world needs to rediscover a sense of hope and possibility.

The untold story of the last 15 years is the revolution in technology and research – which has suddenly made possible approaches to poverty which would’ve been unthinkable a decade earlier. It is now possible now to end extreme poverty within current lifetimes.

The talk will focus on the evolution of Rory’s thinking from someone beginning to work on state building and intervention in the late 1990s, then establishing a charity in Afghanistan in 2005, then becoming a Minister for International Development in the British government and finally embracing the cash revolution as President of GiveDirectly.

About the speaker

Rory Stewart Picture In Active Discussion Tightly CroppedRt Hon Rory Stewart has been an academic, writer, adventurer, politician and diplomat. After a brief time in the Army and the diplomatic service, he walked 6,000 miles on a 21-month trek across Asia, was the acting governor of a province in Iraq, established a charity in Afghanistan, was appointed a Professor at Harvard, and wrote a number of books before entering the UK Parliament. He served as a minister in a number of departments and was a cabinet minister before a bid to be Prime Minister. He is now President of the non-profit GiveDirectly.

His walk across Afghanistan shortly after the US invasion is described in his award-winning New York Times bestseller, The Places in Between. His books have sold more than 600,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into 13 languages. He has made a number of documentaries and he also co-presents (with Alastair Campbell) the UK’s leading political podcast ‘The Rest is Politics’.

About the series

The Green Templeton Lectures 2023 are exploring whether philanthropy has a problem with evidence under the umbrella ‘Seeing is believing’. They are convened by Principal Sir Michael Dixon and Associate Fellow Caroline Greenhalgh. This is the keynote lecture in the series and will be livestreamed.


Contact the Academic Projects team for further information about this event and Associate Fellow Caroline Greenhalgh for information about the lecture series and work in this area.

Type: Lectures and Seminars