What is your role and what does it involve?
I am a Principal Teaching Fellow in the Department of Economics at UCL. I am also the Department BSc Director and Careers Tutor. As BSc Director I have oversight of our undergraduate curriculum, both what we teach and how we teach and assess student learning. With my Careers Tutor hat on I provide support to students on how to identify what career path might suit them and how to get there. As a teaching fellow I deliver large group and small group teaching, bringing insights on curriculum design, particularly skill development, from my Careers Tutor and BSc Director roles.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role(s)?
I joined UCL in September 2012. Prior to that I worked as an economic consultant from 1996 to 2008 and from 2008 to 2010 I worked for the GB energy regulator, Ofgem. Between 2010 and 2012 I ran my own consultancy business, CJ Economics, and did some part-time teaching at Kingston University.
Tell us about a project you’re working on that you find particularly interesting.
I am leading an Economics Network project on Employability in UK Economics Degrees. I have just sent out a survey to all UK Economics BSc Directors (my equivalent across UK universities) to find out what economics programmes are doing to help students develop their employability skills like writing, presenting, applying economics to real world problems, data analysis and group work. The aim is to produce a stock take of what economics programmes are doing to identify best practice and identify skill areas that are getting less attention than employers may like. It is interesting finding out what others are doing. I am sure CTaLE is leading in many areas but there will always be lessons to be learned from others. Once the survey is complete we will hold focus group discussions with lecturers, employers and students to see what more could be done and what the main challenges are.
If you could teach any economics course, what would it be?
As an Irish person living in the UK in 2019 I would love to teach a course on the Economics of the European Union. I did a fantastic course on this in my undergraduate degree in Trinity College Dublin and feel that our students would really benefit from understanding the economic reasons behind the European Union. It would be part economic history and part current affairs. Of course I’d probably end up on a political list somewhere for teaching such a controversial course!
What is your favourite economic joke?
I try to keep my jokes and work separate! But there is one about ‘assuming a can opener’ that goes something like below. It appeals to me as I tend to be watchful of assumptions of economics models when working in regulation and competition policy:
A physicist, a chemist, and an economist are stranded on an island with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The physicist says, “Let’s smash the can open with a rock.” The chemist says, “Let’s build a fire and heat the can.” The economist says, “Let’s assume that we have a can opener.”
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