Laurie Evans knew he wanted the Otago experience but he had no idea what he wanted to study. Having a broad range of interests, the multi-discipline Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (BA PPE) degree was a great fit.
“Some of the papers I have enjoyed the most, such as the history of science, have been outside of my core interest area. The real benefit of having a degree that is flexible rather than fixed is that you get to try a range of different subjects.
“Studying the Humanities is also great for interesting debates, whether its in the flat or in class.”
After completing his BA PPE Laurie wanted to continue an interdisciplinary approach with postgraduate study, and advice from Professor Robert Patman helped him to settle on a Master of International Studies.
“The Master of International Studies gives you a skill set that lets you tackle a whole host of problems. For any world issue, you can draw from different pools of knowledge – they all come together to make you a better global citizen.”
His dissertation topic, an analysis of Brazil’s conditional cash transfer programme, enables him to focus on his area of passion, economics, and incorporate a political perspective as well.
“Conditional cash transfer programmes have become more prominent in the last 20 years. They are spreading across Africa, as well as Latin America and Asia but there are still things we don’t know about them.
“In Brazil there is a programme called the Bolsa Família, which distributes cash payments to households on the condition that the children get vaccinated and go to school. my dissertation will aim to assess whether it is successful at alleviating poverty, whether it is sustainable, and whether it is better than other forms of social welfare.”
Next year Laurie will take up a position with Goldman Sachs, something he believes his study has prepared him well for.
“They need people with all kinds of minds and backgrounds. I have no finance experience but being able to look at things in a critical way and solve problems is what they are after.”
As for the Otago experience, Laurie says he wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’d heard fantastic things about Otago and I have loved everything about my time here. The University has this great culture of people who are just keen to “get amongst” and the location is ideal.”