David Beasley, former South Carolina governor, head of the United Nations World Food Program and 2020 Nobel Peace Prize winner, visited the University of South Carolina campus on April 18 to speak with a group of students about the challenges and opportunities in combating hunger around the globe.
Beasley is a native of Lamar, S.C., and served as a Republican governor of South Carolina from 1995-1999. He earned a bachelor’s degree from USC in 1979 and graduated from the university’s School of Law in 1983. He served as executive director of the World Food Program from 2017-2023.
The World Food Program is the largest international humanitarian organization and delivers food assistance and other aid to nearly 100 million people a year in dozens of countries. Beasley’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic won accolades for saving millions of lives as more people around the world were forced into poverty. He also helped boost private and governmental funding for the aid program by billions of dollars by spanning deep political divides.
A unique classroom opportunity
Beasley visited a Global Food Politics class, an upper-level seminar taught by geography professor Jessica Barnes. The class examines the political, social and cultural dimensions of food and farming around the world. Beasley shared with students his experiences marshaling critical food aid while navigating through warfare and political strife in countries like Sudan and Afghanistan.
What he’s saying
"The world is in trouble, and it’s up to your generation to figure out the next steps,” Beasley said. “You’ve got a lot be thankful for, but you have a lot of work to do. Follow your heart, be willing to take risks, and care for the poor.”