Dr. Melanie O'Gorman discusses the newly-expanded MA in Applied Economics program

Graduate Studies

Melanie O’Gorman is the Chair of the Applied Economics Graduate Program, where she played a leading role in its development, and an Associate Professor with the Department of Economics. She has conducted research exploring the detriments of educational success in Inuit communities and the socio-economic issue of inadequate drinking water and sanitation in First Nations communities. The Faculty of Graduate Studies recently chatted with Melanie on her research interests and the newly-expanded Master of Arts in Applied Economics (MAE) Graduate Program.

Melanie O'Gorman profile portrait

What is your area of research and how did you develop an interest in this topic?

My research area is Development Economics and I developed an interest in this topic a very long time ago when I first learned about the large gaps in socio-economic indicators between Canada and other countries.

The Master of Arts in Applied Economics (MAE) is the newly-expanded graduate program in Economics (formerly Environmental, Resource and Developmental Economics (ERDE)) where students may pursue a general degree, or complete a concentration in either Policy Analysis or Environmental, Resource and Development Economics.

What are the differences between the two options and can you give us a general overview of what a student may expect to learn within their program of choice?

In the Master of Arts in Applied Economics (MAE), students obtain proficiency in economic analysis, and apply this knowledge to contemporary economic policy issues in Canada and abroad. The demand for professional economists with strong analytical skills and practical knowledge in the area of policy analysis has been growing. The MAE program caters to this demand on the part of employers, whether in the public, private or non-governmental sectors. The ERDE option has students first focus on the core areas of microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics and then take field courses in environmental/resource and development economics. One change to this stream is that students now take a course in cost-benefit analysis, a skill that is required for work in government and which is crucial for valuing natural resources that may not transact in the market. The new stream - the Policy Analysis stream - has the same core courses as the ERDE stream however students then focus on a wider range of applied areas, including finance, regulation, health care, etc.

With the recent Global Climate Strike protests, climate change has cemented itself as one of the defining issues of this generation. How does your program explore the economic impact of climate change?

The ERDE stream of the MAE program first explores how climate change has resulted and then discusses policies that may be used to mitigate it. Such policies range from eco-labeling to green energy subsidies to carbon taxes to international environmental agreements. Students concerned about climate change may also explore the issue further through a research project or practicum placement.

Based on your previous research with Indigenous communities, which highlighted the significance of collaborative dialogue between researchers and Indigenous community members, what advice would you give to students who have an interest in policy analysis and are exploring economic development in Indigenous communities?

My advice would be to explore as widely as possible the diversity of economic development experiences across the country in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and the historical factors that have led to such experiences. There are communities that are opposing mining projects within their territory and others that are signing impact benefit agreements with mining companies. There are communities that are experiencing economic development at a very rapid pace - including in the area of urban reserves right here in Manitoba - and others with fewer economic development initiatives. Only by recognizing this diversity and its historical roots can proper policy analysis be conducted. 

What are you looking forward to over the next year at the University of Winnipeg?

Naturally I'm looking forward to the launch of the MAE program; however, there are many new and interesting initiatives across the university, including the new Centre for Access to Information and Justice (CAIJ) and expanded funding for the Inner-City Work Study program. 

Thank you! And good luck with the new program changes!

To learn more about the Master of Arts in Applied Economics Graduate Program, please visit the MAE website.

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