By Stephanie Porter
THROUGHOUT HIS TIME at Memorial, Michael O’Keefe cultivated two parallel interests: public policy and music. While pursuing a bachelor of music, he was also active in student government. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to education, he says, opened his eyes.
The problems our province faces are unique and quite complex. In order to creatively solve them, we need to look more to creative industries for solutions and ideas—and music is a creative industry that has a lot to offer– Michael O’Keefe
“I went in with plans to do a performance degree, which I did do, but the concepts of music research and musicology were things I wasn’t overly familiar with,” he says. “I wrote my graduation essay on the role of music and musicians in international relations from a Canadian perspective … International relations is all about communication between individuals and nation states, and music is a mode of communication.”
It’s a topic he plans to do more work on. Selected as Newfoundland and Labrador’s 2018 Rhodes Scholar, Mr. O’Keefe started a master’s program in music at the University of Oxford this past fall. In addition to his performance studies, he expects his research papers will continue to connect music and international relations. After that, he may tackle a second master’s degree, in public policy.
Mr. O’Keefe envisions himself living abroad for a time, but then returning home to Newfoundland and Labrador, hopefully to apply what he has learned. “The problems our province faces are unique and quite complex,” he says. “In order to creatively solve them, we need to look more to creative industries for solutions and ideas — and music is a creative industry that has a lot to offer.”