Center of Concern Announces Richard J. Rowden as Director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project

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Center of Concern has chosen economist, civil society advocate, and activist Richard J. Rowden to serve as director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project.

Richard J. Rowden

Rick brings to the Center tremendous research and leadership experience in global economic development, specifically, health governance, delivery, and accountability.

Center of Concern President Lester A. Myers is pleased to announce the appointment of Richard J. Rowden as the director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project, effective September 14, 2017. Rowden has over 20 years of experience in academia, international civil society and social advocacy organizations, and United Nations agencies in the areas of international economics, global integration, foreign aid, and national economic development policies in developing countries.

“The Center established the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project in 1995 to promote reforms of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Over time, its focus has evolved to promote reform of the international financial system, its rules, and institutions, with the purpose of democratizing economic policy making and promoting human rights and sustainable development. This project has been a central, visible, and impactful channel for the Center to carry out its research, education, and advocacy from Catholic social tradition on the world stage,” explained Myers.

“Rick brings to the Center tremendous research and leadership experience in global economic development, specifically, health governance, delivery, and accountability. His scholarship and ability to convene and address global opinion makers in centers of influence will further the Center’s mission to be a distinctive voice for global social justice and peace from Catholic social tradition,” noted Myers.

Rowden will serve as the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project’s third director, succeeding Mr. Aldo Caliari, who served the project for almost 18 years, and founding director Dr. Jo Marie Griesgraber. Myers expressed appreciation for the strong endorsement by both of Rowden’s predecessors for his appointment. “The Center has been very proud of the fine work of both Aldo and Jo Marie and I am eager to see Rick bring his distinctive voice, moral concern, and perspective of many years’ dedicated work in the Global South to inform his thought and executive leadership and make a real difference for positive global transformation, particularly for the most vulnerable in our world,” Myers said.

“The founding of Center of Concern in the office of United Nations Secretary General U Thant in 1971 gave the organization its global scope and the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project has been a historical and systematic continuation of this legacy to carry out advocacy-oriented research, popular education, and coalition building to engage governmental and intergovernmental officials, policy makers, civil society organizations, scholars, grassroots activists, social movements, and the public. This project works closely with allied organizations in the United States, Europe, and all regions of the Global South,” Myers added.

Center of Concern’s role since its establishment by Bishop (later Cardinal) Joseph Bernardin and the Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in the secretary general’s office as a joint project of the U.S. Catholic bishops and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) has been to serve as a convener for global conversations about issues of global social justice via its research, education, and advocacy. The Center’s strategy for executing this mission is to add value by engaging with public and private centers of influence through an integrated model of social enterprise that seeks global transformation for social justice in core competencies of global financial systems and human rights; global women’s issues; integral ecology; strategic governance, principled leadership, and philanthropy; and social justice education, including the award-winning Education for Justice.

Before joining the Center, Rowden was a consultant to several international civil society and social advocacy organizations and United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the World Health Organization. He has worked as an inter-regional advisor with the Macroeconomics Branch in the Globalization and Development Strategies Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva. He also spent many years working with international development organizations, including ActionAid, for whom he managed its Democratic Governance policy work across two-dozen countries in Africa and Asia and served as a senior policy analyst in its Washington, D.C., office, where he focused on reforms to International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies.

Rowden is the author of The Deadly Ideas of Neoliberalism: How the IMF has Undermined Public Health and the Fight Against AIDS (London: Zed Books, 2009), which The Washington Post recommended as among five things to read to understand the role of the IMF in the 2014 Ebola outbreak. He is the author of chapters in three anthologies and has published articles in academic journals including, The Lancet, Health and Human Rights, Human Geography, Review of African Political Economy, Global Social Policy, International Journal of Health Services and The Berkeley Journal of Sociology. He has also contributed regularly to popular publications such as Foreign Policy and The Guardian and writes for a new United Kingdom magazine on alternative economic ideas, The Mint.

Rowden has been an invited speaker on these topics in a wide variety of venues, including the United Nations Economic and Social Council; the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s Sub-Committee on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Geneva; The Carter Center in Atlanta; the Open Society Institute in New York; the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC; at several conferences of international civil society and social advocacy organizations; and as a guest lecturer at universities. He has also presented his work on the links between macroeconomics and health at the annual conferences of the American Public Health Association and the Global Health Council in Washington, D.C.

“More recently, I have been researching the role of emerging market economies in the global economy and specializing in the new field of South-South economic relations.” he said. “I am currently completing my Ph.D. in economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, where my dissertation focused on India-Africa economic relations and the developmental impact of India’s foreign aid, trade, and foreign direct investment in Africa,” Rowden stated.

Rowden earned his B.A. and M.A. in international relations, both from San Francisco State University, and he lectured in global studies at California State University, Monterey Bay, and political science at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Rowden’s first public appearance as a member of the Center of Concern team will be to present remarks at an interdisciplinary workshop, “Rethinking the International System-Global Health and the Future of the Nation-State,” that the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Global Health Delivery will host from September 15th to 17th. The discussion will focus on institutional structures of international health governance, with the aim of creating a more just and accountable system.


Since its founding in 1971 at the office of United Nations Secretary General U Thant by National Conference of Catholic Bishops General Secretary Joseph Bernardin and Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and with significant talent and treasure from women religious, Center of Concern (Center) has served in Washington, D.C., with a mission to research, educate, and advocate from Catholic social tradition to create a world where economic, political, and cultural systems promote sustainable flourishing of the global community. The Center envisions a global community that upholds basic human rights and human dignity, fosters just relationships, promotes sustainable livelihoods, and renews the earth. The Center is a member of Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité, Catholic Charities USA, and the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and holds consultative status before the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

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