Dr. D. Michael Shafer


Dr. D. Michael Shafer, Founder, Warm Heart Worldwide, Professor (Emeritus) International Political Economy, Rutgers University (BA Yale, PhD Harvard, Council on Foreign Relations, 21st Century Trust Fellow), manages the Warm Heart Foundation, a grassroots community development organization serving northern Thailand. Dr. Shafer is an award-winning teacher who has published widely and consults globally. Dr. Shafer’s articles have appeared in such journals as Comparative Politics, Foreign Policy, and International Organization and his books have been published by Cornell, Princeton and Beacon. Prior to retiring from Rutgers in 2008 to found Warm Heart, Dr. Shafer worked to transform universities throughout the newly democratic world with funds from foundations, the European Union, USAID, and the US State Department. He also created Global PACT, a citizenship, civic engagement and democratic capacity building program run in both post-war reconciliation (in the Balkans) and poverty-reduction trainings (Brazil, Cambodia, Mongolia, South Africa and Thailand). Today Dr. Shafer focuses on Warm Heart, climate change mitigation and poverty reduction through social entrepreneurship. The Government of Canada and the United States Department of State have supported his most recent climate change work in Thailand, while both private and government funders have supported his work in China. Recent publications have appeared in the Council on Foreign Relations Development Channel, in Eco-Business (Singapore) and in The Nation (Thailand), and under the impress of the International Biochar Initiative.

"Social Enterprise: Passing fad or tool for global transformation?"

Abstract: A quick glance around the world is not reassuring. We are familiar with the supposed inevitability of center-periphery tyranny and the

law that rapacious global capital must impoverish the global poor. We are familiar with the accompanying logic that relegates humanitarian considerations to the domains of altruism and charity. If you accept this framing, it is obvious who is winning and why.

This paper offers a new way to view global problems such as climate change, environmental degradation and poverty. It challenges the dehumanized structuralist accounts of top-down, center-periphery and inevitably immiserating capitalism. It dismisses the patronizing immobilizing, missionary rhetoric of charity. Instead, it offers a bottom-up action plan for local communities worldwide: social enterprise.

Social enterprise is the entrepreneurial activity that converts a social problem into a profitable business opportunity for everyone. A social enterprise is a self-sustaining solution to a social problem that is self-sustaining because it provides ongoing benefits to all. Social enterprises empower the global poor to improve quality of life on their own terms. They use the productive power of capitalism for community good. They break the degrading dependency of the charity regime.

The literature is full of theoretical exercises that advance only academic careers. This paper builds on the author’s personal experience creating rural social enterprises. His work in North Thailand involves organizing social enterprises to convert crop waste into biochar[1] instead of burning it. Each enterprise improves public health and provides farmers with a soil amendment that increases yields (income). Replicated across the developing world, this enterprise promises annually to sequester hundreds of millions of tons of CO2, avert the emission of hundreds of millions of tons of eCO2, PM2.5 and smog precursors, and put billions of dollars in the hands of the world’s poorest people.