Dr. David Batstone Named Alum of the Year

Dr. David Batstone (PhD, ‘89) Named 2022 Alum of the Year

BERKELEY, CA – September 13, 2022 – The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is pleased to announce Dr. David Batstone as the 2022 Alum of the Year. Dr. Batstone began his studies at the GTU in 1985, earning his PhD in 1989. He is the Professor Emeritus of the School of Management at the University of San Francisco (USF) and CEO of Blackstone Technologies, an innovative battery technology company using 3D printing technology to create energy-efficient and sustainable lithium-ion battery cells. Prior to his emeritus appointment at USF’s School of Management, Dr. Batstone served as Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at USF and, prior to that, Professor of Ethics in the Theology and Religious Studies Department. He is also the founder of the non-profit Not for Sale Campaign, aimed at ending global human trafficking. The GTU’s Alum of the Year Award honors a distinguished graduate who embodies the GTU’s values through their work in the world.  

“As an activist-scholar and entrepreneur who is engaged in multiple local and global initiatives, Dr. Batstone’s career touches on several of the GTU’s core values,” said Dr. Jennifer Davidson, Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs of the GTU. “His work offers an expansive vision of justice, compassion, and innovation as it spans the areas of theology, technology, and social activism. We are proud to honor Dr. Batstone’s efforts to help build a better world through these contributions.”  


Since graduating from the GTU with a PhD in systematic theology in 1989, Dr. Batstone’s career has spanned the fields of higher education, non-profit management, and venture capitalism. As an educator, Dr. Batstone incorporated his interdisciplinary learnings in his courses at the University of San Francisco. Writing seven books that expounded on his work around the globe and across industries, his publications include Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade — And How We Can Fight It (HarperOne, 2010). Dr. Batstone responded to the discovery of human trafficking at a Bay Area restaurant by founding the Not for Sale Campaign, aimed at spotlighting and ending modern-day slavery across the globe. Inspired by his work in Latin America, Dr. Batstone created an alternative approach to venture capitalism (Just Business), and he co-founded four socially responsible and sustainable companies: Regenerate Technology (battery recycling), Dignitá restaurants, REBBL beverages and Z Shoes (sustainable fashion).

“Moving beyond academia, or even beyond my work of fighting human trafficking, this honor is the recognition that the things I’m doing in the business world are making an impact consistent with the values and ethos of the Graduate Theological Union,” Dr. Batstone shared in a recent interview with the GTU.  “No matter what age we live in, we need people who can think of the bigger picture. The GTU raises up scholars within the academy and leaders within religious contexts. But it is also one of the few places that can raise up leaders for society.” 


Prior to starting his PhD studies, Dr. Batstone was engaged in humanitarian work addressing government-led violence in Latin America. His doctoral research at the GTU, Christology in Latin America, dovetailed with and built upon this work. 

“The GTU gave me the space to do my work in South America. I would go down and do my work in El Salvador, where I’d be doing human rights work, I’d come back up and meet with my professors. I was back and forth all the time,” says Dr. Batstone. “The thing I loved about the GTU is that the only pressure was to challenge your thinking, so that you’re always in a mode of learning forward. Still today I say that in my companies: ‘If we’re not getting smarter every week then there is something wrong.’” 


Dr. Batstone will be honored as the 2022 Alum of the Year on November 19 at this year’s AAR/SBL Alum Reception in Denver, Colorado. More details about the GTU’s events at this year’s AAR/SBL Annual Meetings can be found here. Read more about Dr. Batstone’s work, and the GTU’s lasting influence on his career, in our interview at GTU Voices. 


About the Graduate Theological Union 

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is a world leader in the study of religion and theology, as well as a vibrant home for spiritual exploration through online learning opportunities with global reach.  

Through rigorous academic research and active interreligious dialogue, the GTU’s centers of study and wider consortium offer programs that lead to groundbreaking scholarship, with alumni who become thought leaders in their fields.  We offer innovative approaches to advanced study, driven by our core commitment to furthering the causes of ethical leadership, social justice, sustainability, and spiritual care to create more just and peaceful communities worldwide.  

Discover more about our programs and the work of our alum community at gtu.edu.