Jacob Beswick ’07, Distinguished Young Alumnus
- Carlos Barron
After graduating from Southwestern, Beswick earned his Master of Science in Comparative politics from the London School of Economics and is currently pursuing a graduate diploma in Economics from the Birkbeck School at the University of London.
Beswick has not just been attending classes, however. Jacob started his post-collegiate career in Texas politics, working on statewide and local campaigns and as a policy analyst. And while doing his post-graduate work, he authored and co-authored several reports on civilian conflict casualties and other humanitarian crises, including refugee family reunification.
He is now Principal Policy Officer at London Councils, a cross-party organization that works on behalf of the City of London and its 32 borough councils to ensure they have the resources, freedoms and powers to do the best possible job for their residents and local businesses. Previously, Beswick was at the Every Casualty program, where he worked to record casualties in conflict settings and research and report on the debate over the impact of tactics like the use of drones on civilian casualties.
Beswick was nominated by fellow Southwestern alumna Meagan Elliott ’07. Elliott reflects on Beswick’s transformation from his early days at Southwestern: “Jacob was… tremendously intelligent, but so unwilling to coast through college with that intelligence that, at times, the pressure he put on himself was unbearable for everyone. I think that has been the characteristic that has allowed him to seek out the kind of work of personal fulfillment and social contribution. So here Jacob is, perhaps the last person anyone would peg to be an influential human rights advocate… and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”
At the Every Casualty program, notes co-director Hamit Dardagan, Beswick was at the center of the
program’s clear mission: acknowledgement of human grief when loved ones or members of one’s family are lost to the violet ravages of war, no matter that war is a no matter the nationality of the bereaved. Every Casualty advocates for all casualties of armed violence to be properly recorded, identified and publicly acknowledged.
As befitting someone who tackles a topic bound to make many uncomfortable, Beswick has a reputation for being forthright and holding people accountable. His longtime friend and fellow Southwestern alumnus Josh Franco ’07 says Beswick is, “Honest—sometimes painfully, but always with your best in mind. Jacob is the realist, the one who will keep you on your budget, keep you from embarrassing yourself, and save you in a bunch of ways you may or may not know.”
Distinguished young alumni are recognized partly for their excellence at personifying Southwestern’s core purpose to foster a community that encourages contributions toward the well-being of humanity. Beswick’s former colleague at the Oxford Research Group, Elizabeth Minor, says Beswick does that in every aspect of his work. “Jacob paid a lot of focus to the contribution that casualty recording can make to improving the protection of civilians living through armed conflict – from strengthening the understanding of harm being suffered that must be responded to through humanitarian and political means, to supporting justice and accountability and the fulfillment of the rights of victims.”
Claire Tudor agrees that Beswick is dedicated to the liberal arts ideals embodied at Southwestern. She worked with Beswick on a project around refugee family reunification with the British Red Cross.
Tudor recalls, “This was and is a highly political, contentious, difficult and technical area of refugee related work. Jacob had a monumental task in writing a comprehensive report where the goal posts and macro political landscape was changing all the time. The task Jacob had been set was in no way easy. Jacob completed the report against a lot of odds and my memory of the launch that took place in Westminster is him quietly sitting at the back of the room listening to the speakers and watching all the buzz and excitement. It was a unique report that was so clearly and well written, with clear asks and well-rounded and evidenced strategic thinking. The report has been widely read and cited.”
Beswick’s manager at the Red Cross shares his view of how Beswick lives up to the liberal arts ideals. “Jacob’s work on his groundbreaking report on refugee family reunion enabled us to shine a spotlight on a forgotten humanitarian crisis. It has enabled us to engage with the UK government on this issue and for them now to see the issue as one of international protection and not immigration. His work has helped us in our vital work to reunite families torn apart by conflict.”
Because Jacob Beswick is considered an outstanding role model for Southwestern students as they aspire to spread the University’s name and reputation as home to intellectual rigor, creative and engaged scholarship, and scholarly excellence both within the U.S. and abroad, the Southwestern University Alumni Association presents him with the 2016 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.