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Perspectives in Global Development: Fall 2022 Seminar Series

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times called him “one of the unsung heroes of modern times.” Fazle Hasan Abed was a mild-mannered accountant who may be the most influential man most people have never heard of. As the founder of BRAC—by many measures the largest nongovernmental organization in the world, and by some accounts the most effective anti-poverty group—his work had an impact on the lives of millions. BRAC has 100,000 employees reaching more than 100 million people in Asia and Africa. In Bangladesh, where it began, its work—which includes microfinance, community healthcare, schooling, social enterprises, a bank, a university and more—gave rise to “some of the biggest gains in the basic condition of people’s lives ever seen anywhere,” according to The Economist. Abed’s methods changed the way global policymakers think about poverty, yet among the wider public he remains largely unknown.

Author Scott MacMillan, director of learning and innovation of BRAC USA, worked closely with Abed as his speech writer for several years. He wrote Hope Over Fate: Fazle Hasan Abed and the Science of Ending Global Poverty based on hundreds of hours of interviews with Abed, along with his family, friends and current and former co-workers.

This book is also the biography of an idea—the idea that hope itself has the power to help people overcome poverty. “For too long, people thought poverty was something ordained by a higher power, as immutable as the sun and the moon,” Abed wrote in 2018. “This is a myth.” Abed believed in “the science of hope,” which shows that in the dominion of human lives, hope ultimately triumphs over fate.

About the speaker

Scott MacMillan is the director of learning and innovation at BRAC USA, an affiliate organization of BRAC, where he has worked since 2011, and where he manages a portfolio of research and innovation grants. He served as the speechwriter of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of BRAC, prior to Abed’s death in 2019. Before joining BRAC, his work as a journalist took him to over 50 countries. He covered the transition from communism as a business journalist in central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, then worked as an editor and freelance writer in the Middle East in the 2000s. A stint as a travel writer took him to Southeast Asia, China, India, and Africa. He now lives in Connecticut with his wife and daughter, along with a cat, two dogs, and four horses.

About the seminar series

The Perspectives in Global Development seminars are held Wednesdays from 12:25 – 1:15 p.m. eastern time during the semester. The series will be presented in a hybrid format with some speakers on campus and others appearing via Zoom. All seminars are shown in Warren 151. Students, faculty and the general public are welcome to attend. The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Global Development, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the School of Integrative Plant Science as part of courses GDEV 4961, AEM 4961, NTRES 4961, GDEV 6960, AEM 6960, and NTRES 6960. 

Date & Time

September 7, 2022
12:25 pm - 1:15 pm

Scott MacMillan

More information about this event.

Contact Information

Jenna LaMendola

  • JLaMendola [at]


Scott MacMillan, Director of learning and innovation, BRAC USA


Department of Global Development

Natural Resources and the Environment

Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

School of Integrative Plant Science

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