The Society for Progress, an organization concerned with promoting moral responsibility within capitalism, awarded Provost Richard Locke P’17 an inaugural progress medal, an award given to scholars for innovative research and leadership in addressing the moral dilemmas of today’s economy. Locke was one of five scholars to earn the inaugural award.
“It was a total surprise that I was given this award,” Locke said. His research topic was about global supply chains and the ways they can “promote efficiency for firms (and create) more just and healthy outcomes” for all parties involved, he added.
Locke’s past research on this topic included visiting 150 factories in 10 different countries, conducting 800 interviews and analyzing hundreds of thousands of documents. According to Subramanian Rangan, a member of the Society for Progress medal committee, Locke was a clear choice for the award due to his careful, rigorous and balanced research on many aspects of labor efficiency and justice in global supply chains — an issue that is becoming more and more significant.
Locke is “somebody that we are very proud to award this inaugural progress medal to,” Rangan said.
The society also awarded $100,000 to each winner of the Progress Medal, which Locke has already given to endow an undergraduate scholarship both at Brown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his Ph.D and taught for multiple decades.
Moving forward, Locke said he plans to see how he can promote his ideas so that firms implement them. The ultimate goal is to reform capitalism to be more effective but also more just, Locke said.
Though his research had no direct link to the University, Locke sees a connection between his work and the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
“I feel fortunate to be working at Brown right now in this moment that we, as a community, are pushing forward with all sorts of programs to enhance diversity,” Locke said.
Rangan hopes the creation of the progress medals will encourage other scholars to prioritize integrating moral causes into their business-related research.