Feeling Chuffed

By Seamus Hogan 20/09/2014


It was a great day for the ECON department at Canterbury on Wednesday. Our very own Rachel Webb, successfully defended her doctoral thesis, The Health Economics of Macrosomia. Rachel has been a part of the Department for many years, having previously completed her Bachelor’s and Honours’ degrees at Canterbury prior to starting her Ph.D. Eric blogged on a preliminary finding from Rachel’s thesis here last year.

Rachel’s successful defence comes on the heels of some other notable achievements of our recent students: James Graham has just started his doctoral studies at New York University, as one of the 26 New Zealand recipients of a Fulbright Award, and the only one with a degree in Economics; Nick Sander has just started his doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley; James Horrocks has recently completed his MBA at Cambridge; and Reza Baqaee is just finishing up his Ph.D. at Harvard.

These are not our only success stories by any means, but the notable thing for me about these five is that they were all in my Honours welfare economics class in 2009. The thing I have enjoyed most about teaching in our Honours programme over the past 14 years has not only been the incredible quality of our students, but also the diversity of their academic backgrounds, in large part because we have made a feature of the fact that one can major in Economics as part of an Arts, Science, or Commerce degree. James Graham and James Horrocks both did double majors in Economics and Philosophy; Nick and Reza completed combined Honours degrees in Economics and Maths, and the same class included students with undergraduate degrees in History, Physics and Finance. Keynes is famous for his statement that a master economist “must be mathematician, historian, statesman philosopher”. It is too much to ask that students coming into graduate Economics have studied every one of these other subjects in detail, but the next best thing is to have a class that collectively has that breadth.