Kurt Ver Beek

Kurt Ver Beek


Kurt Ver Beek joined the faculty at Calvin College in 1996, after completing a Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to do his dissertation fieldwork in Honduras on how several thousand very poor and marginalized Lenca Indians were able to mobilize and effect many positive changes in their community. Prof. Ver Beek completed his BA in Sociology from Calvin College in 1986 and his MA in Human Resource Development from Azusa Pacific University in 1992.


Kurt and his wife Jo Ann worked for six years (1986-1992) in Central America for an International Development Organization called the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. The last four of those six years Kurt was the Honduras Country Representative and was responsible for project evaluations, staff training and supervision of funds for Honduran grass-roots organizations. Kurt and Jo Ann also led numerous workshops on participation and community organization and developed a variety of training materials on those topics.

Academic interests

Kurt and Jo Ann lead Calvin College's Honduras Semester. They also lead an interim in Honduras which provides an overview of similar topics.

In addition to his work with Calvin, Kurt is one of six founding members of the Association for a More Just Society (AJS) in Honduras. AJS seeks to create a more just society, focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable sectors through the creation of more just legislation, by a more just application of current legislation, and increasing the role of churches in promoting social justice.

While working for Calvin College, Prof. Ver Beek has also carried out short-term consulting work with international development organizations, including World Vision and Tear Fund UK.

Research and scholarship


Professor Ver Beek has authored several publications about the long-term effects of short-term missions. He has also been mentioned in numerous sources of media and has given presentations regarding his work on this topic. Over the years, Professor Ver Beek has gathered an extensive collection of resources on short-term missions.


Encyclopedia Britannica defines a maquila as a "manufacturing plant that imports and assembles duty-free components for export. The arrangement allows plant owners to take advantage of low-cost labour and to pay duty only on the “value added”—that is, on the value of the finished product minus the total cost of the components that had been imported to make it. The vast majority of maquiladoras are owned and operated by Mexican, Asian, and American companies."

 Maquilas: Saviors or Enslavers? Spark. Calvin College Alumni Association: Grand Rapids, MI. 45:2 (Summer, 1999) pp.32-36

Recommended reading for further interest in Maquilas:

 The 'Great Commission' or Glorified Sightseeing? - WSJ.com


Spirituality: A Development Taboo. Development in Practice. Oxfam Publications: London, England. 10:1 (February, 2000) pp. 31-43. Article republished in Development and Culture, Editor Deborah Eade, London: 2002.


  • Ver Beek, Kurt. 2008. Lessons from the sapling: Review of quantitative research on short-term missions. In Effective Engagement in Short-Term Missions: Doing it Right! (edited by Robert Priest, William Carey Library), pp. 469-496. 

  • Maquilas: Exploitation or Emancipation?: An Overview of the Situation of Maquiladora Workers in Honduras. World Development (29:9) 2001.

  • Spirituality: A Development Taboo. Development in Practice. Oxfam Publications: London, England. 10:1 (February, 2000) pp. 31-43

Performances or exhibitions

Watch or listen to Prof. Ver Beek's January Series talk from January 22, 2016, entitled, "Reframing Justice: Models from Honduras."



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