Harlan Beckley was the founding director and serves as the Executive Director of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), a twenty-two member non-profit organization devoted to promoting a sustained interdisciplinary education for undergraduates in all majors and professional students in order to prepare them to address poverty as part of their professional, civic, and political lives. SHECP offers a collaborative eight-week summer internship for students from its member schools. SHECP and its predecessor, the Shepherd Alliance, have sponsored approximately 750 law and undergraduate summer interns beginning in the summer of 1998.
Harlan will become the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor or Religion emeritus at Washington and Lee University on July 1st. He founded the Shepherd Program on Poverty and Human Capability at Washington and Lee, which became the foundation for which he and others launched the Shepherd Consortium. The Program and Consortium are named for donors and supporters, Tom and Nancy Shepherd from Stowe, Massachusetts.Harlan has written on theological advocates for economic justice—Walter Rauschenbusch, John Augustine Ryan, and Reinhold Niebuhr—in Passion for Justice and on justice and poverty in numerous articles, including “Capability as Opportunity: How Amartya Sen Revises Equal Opportunity.” He has served as President of the Society of Christian Ethics in 2001, Acting President of Washington and Lee University in 2005-06, and received Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 2002, principally for his work in founding the Shepherd Program in 1997. As he retires from the professoriate, Harlan will be working on three monograph-length projects on what constitutes equality of opportunity, moral justifications for the welfare state, and how cost/benefit analysis can advance respect for the equal dignity of persons. Professor Beckley grew up on a farm in central Illinois, received his undergraduate education in economics at the University of Illinois, a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in religion at Vanderbilt University, and post-doctoral fellowshipfellowship at the University of Chicago.