Michael Edwards – USA

Disambiguation: your search tool will bring you out several Michael Edwards.

Linked with Alliance, with the Resource Alliance, and with The 21st Century Trust.

Michael Edwards is the Director of the Ford Foundation’s Governance and Civil Society Unit in New York, having worked in international development for the last twenty years, including periods spent living and travelling in Latin America, Southern Africa and South Asia. After a series of senior management positions with Oxfam and Save the Children, he moved to Washington DC to work as a Senior Civil Society Specialist in the NGO Unit of the World Bank. His writings have helped to shape a more critical appreciation of the global role of civil society, and to break down barriers between researchers and activists across the world. Michael was educated in England at the universities of Oxford and London, and now lives with his wife in the center of Manhattan. (Future Positive.org).

His two books:

  • Future Positive, International cooperation in the 21st century;
  • Civil Society;

find their publishing informations on Future Positive.org.

Global Civil Society: Expectations, Capacities and the Accountability of International NGOs, Oxford 28 March – 5 April 2003.


Michael Edwards – USA

Just another Emperor? The myths and realities of philanthrocapitalism”, by Michael Edwards, published simultaneously in London and New York, 10th March 2008.

He says: “To me that means three things that I’ll leave you with that in the hope that they provoke some initial questions for our conversation:

  • Bringing social and economic democracy back into the conversation. Democracy requires both freedom and equality, yet (perhaps as a result of US dominance in this debate), freedom gets the lion’s share of the attention;
  • Thinking in terms of participatory and deliberative democracy and not just representation – that’s where some of the most interesting innovations lie, like participatory budgeting and citizens forums;
  • And being open to learning from non-Western experience where many of these innovations are strongest, like Brazil and India (e.g, importing participation in the local budget process by Labor government into the UK last year).

These changes would lay the basis for a different kind of conversation that sees democracy as something we co-create together, learning as we go, not something that is exported from one part of the world to another against a standard template or end point in time. And that I think would be a conversation with a lot more intellectual excitement, practical influence, ethical integrity and real purchase on the ground to which all of us as grant-makers could make a central contribution … (full conference text).

CIVIL SOCIETY: Field Statement of Current Programming (October 2003, 7 pages).

GOVERNANCE: Field Statement of Current Programming (October 2003, 7 pages).

He writes: It is impossible to have a conversation about politics or public policy these days without someone mentioning the magic words “civil society”, so one might think that people are clear what they mean when they use this term and why it is so important. Unfortunately, clarity and rigor are conspicuous by their absence in the civil society debate, a lack of precision that threatens to submerge this concept completely under a rising tide of criticism and confusion … (full long text, 2005).

Ending Anarchy? International Rule and Reconstruction After Conflict, October 2000.
Yet, as a timely pamphlet by philanthropy guru Michael Edwards warns, the grandiose claims of philanthrocapitalism can both overplay its results and mask its more nefarious effects.Despite all the claims of modernity, “venture philanthropy” often looks a great deal like old-fashioned giving. America basked in Mark Twain’s Gilded Age 100 years ago, flaunting the same extraordinary concentrations of wealth and poverty that are so evident today. Then, the riches of the Mellons, Carnegies and Rockefellers came from steel, oil, and natural resources, rather than the IT and finance boom of the 1990s … (full long text, April 17, 2008).

Global Governance: scenarios for the future, 21-29 October 2003.
He writes also: “Just Another Emperor?” offers a series of recommendations for the new philanthropists including greater humility, and more recognition of the central role played by independent civil society groups and by governments in achieving social justice, along with specific proposals to:

  • Spend 50 per cent of each foundation’s annual payout on social justice philanthropy;
  • Give beneficiaries a voice in decisions – in place of the claims of venture philanthropy which demand all power for the donors;
  • Fund independent impact research and use the results to stimulate a public conversation about the future of philanthropy.

The author quotes Bill Gates’ recent comment that “reducing inequity is the highest human achievement” and the comment of Wal-mart CEO Lee Scott that “the question of how to assure that American capitalism creates a decent society is one that will engage all of us in the years ahead” … (full text, April 14, 2008).

Civil Society Resources on Internet: The Ford Foundation is one source of support for these activities.

And he writes: Civil society faces huge question marks as both a theory and a vehicle for social change, but I think it is precisely its flexibility and openness that makes it useful as a framework for exploring the great questions of the day, a function civil society has performed since the days of the Ancient Greeks – the nature of the good society, the rights and responsibilities of citizens, the practice of politics and government, and how to live together peacefully by reconciling our individual autonomy with our collective aspirations, balancing freedom and its boundaries, and marrying pluralism with conformity so that complex societies can function with both efficiency and justice. And because the essence of civil society is collective action – in associations, through the public sphere, and across society – the debate that has grown up around this term reminds us that individual efforts and experiences can never substitute for the relationships of love, solidarity, sacrifice and friendship that are the essence of our true human nature. At a time when such relationships are severely strained by broader changes in society, international relations and the economy, this may be the most important lesson that civil society has to teach. (full long text).

Regional or Global CSO Network and Support Organisations.

Find him and his publications on future positive.org. Sorry, it’s difficult/impossible to disambiguate books, groups, videos, blogs from each other of the many Michael Edwards on the net.

His Books for partial download by Google:


access philanthropy, Ford Foundation;

robert putnam, social capital and civic community;

CLT Conference- Creating Affordable Housing, From Concept to Reality, April 03, 2008;

Corruption and Its Victims – Business, Government, Society – The Search for Higher Standards;

Combatting Corruption – the Domestic Front: The Holistic Approach to Containing Corruption;

Where is globalization heading;

Civil Society & Development: A Critical Exploration – a Google Books Result, 267 pages;

The London School of Economics and Political Science LSE.

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