Joe Rowsell, a former Memorial student now teaching in the Economics Department, is the 2006 recipient of the Rothermere Fellowship, one of Memorial University’s most prestigious and generous awards. The fellowship will allow Mr. Rowsell, a Corner Brook native, to pursue graduate studies in economics at Oxford University in the U.K.
During four years of graduate study at Oxford, Mr. Rowsell will study economic development in Africa. He intends to explore why some developing countries have experienced substantial economic growth in recent decades, while others have resisted adopting modern technologies and institutions that could, it is generally agreed, drive economic development.
“Essentially I’m interested in the broad economic question of why some countries are so rich when so many other countries – those with similar resources, geography, and populations aren’t. It’s tough to think of a more compelling question,” he said.
According to Mr. Rowsell’s previous research, abundant natural resources can slow a country or region’s economic growth.
“Natural resources do not drive growth; proper institutions and policies do.” Those institutions and policies encompass, among other things, political systems, laws, social programs, tax and competition policies, financial sectors and educational systems. “Basically, institutions shape the incentives, whether political, social or economic, that are available in a society.”
He hopes to extract concrete lessons from growing nations that can then be applied to other developing nations – and potentially to developing economies like Newfoundland and Labrador’s.
“I believe there are a number of ways that the research I’ll be doing can also be applied to our own economy,” he explained.
Established by Memorial's first chancellor, Lord Rothermere, the Rothermere Fellowship will provide a yearly stipend and cover Mr. Rowsell’s tuition and fees at Oxford, as well as annual airfare to and from Canada. Each year, one award is given to an exceptional scholar who has completed a first degree at Memorial. Mr. Rowsell graduated with his B.Sc. in Economics in 2004, and last year received an MA from Queen’s.
Mr. Rowsell has ambitious plans beyond Oxford: he hopes to work with a multilateral organization such as the World Bank, and then bring the knowledge and experience he’s gathered home to Atlantic Canada. Ultimately, he wants to pursue a political career.