“I want to challenge New Zealanders’ thinking”

12 September 2013

Professor Edward Glaeser

“I want New Zealanders to think differently,” says Sir Douglas Myers in support of his endowed visiting professor fund to the Business School. And think differently we did, following this year’s whirlwind tour by leading urban economist Professor Edward Glaeser from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“The whole point of bringing these types to New Zealand is to help break the wall of indifference and distance that cuts the New Zealand public off from much of the thinking that’s boiling away in the rest of the world,” Sir Douglas says.

Glaeser’s visit couldn’t have been better timed coinciding as it did with discussion around Auckland’s Unitary Plan and the Christchurch rebuild. Glaeser, who has taught urban and social economics alongside microeconomic theory at Harvard since 1992, says cities are unfairly labelled as dirty, poor, unhealthy, crime-ridden, expensive and environmentally unfriendly.

He told hundreds of attendees at a Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series lecture in July that his research shatters those myths, with cities actually being places of physical, cultural and economic change every day. Glaeser says: “Cities are centres of idea transmission.”

During his nation-wide, two-week “tour de force”, Glaeser presented to more than 2,500 people; attended networking events with academics, Auckland Council and Christchurch City Council representatives, property developers, infrastructure consultants, senior members of the NZ Institute of Architects, economists, policy planners, government ministry representatives and alumni.

“Glaeser’s impact has been very significant on the thought leaders and key influencers of urban economic development,” said Amanda Stanes, Associate Director of Donor Stewardship, manager of the visiting professor programme.

Sir Douglas Myers laid the foundation for continuing engagement with some of the world's leading academics and business thinkers in 2007 through a $1 million endowment fund. His aim was to enhance the University's links with high-quality overseas institutions and to promote the robust, entrepreneurial teaching and strategies needed for New Zealand to succeed in an era of globalisation.

Professor Glaeser’s visit was also supported by Motu Economic Public Policy and Research and the New Zealand Association of Economists.

 Read about the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series on the Business School website. 

Watch Professor Glaeser’s presentation for the McMillan Lecture at the NZAE Conference 

Watch Professor Glaeser’s presentation for the Condliffe Lecture, University of Canterbury