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April 2017 Member Highlight: Stephanie Rossouw
ISQOLS Executive Committee: Co-Vice President of Finance
ISQOLS Board of Directors Member
- Describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies.
Wow! This might take a while. I was very fortunate to have had a fantastic mentor and supervisor for both my M.Com and PhD back in South Africa. Prof. Wim Naude was the person who first introduced the field of quality of life study to me and if my memory is to be trusted the year was 2006. Getting involved seemed like a no-brainer as I am a development economist at heart and passionate about topics which will ultimately lead to a better standard of living for all people. My research relates to quality of life from an economist's point of view. Don't stop reading please 😉 We all know that GDP is a flawed and broken measure but I believe that the unique skills and mindset we as economists bring to the table definitely can help to compute the best possible measure of and outcome for quality of life. So, what am I saying? My research (so far) has been to investigate objective economic quality of life by constructing non-economic quality of life indices. Confused? Don't worry, we felt the same way in the beginning. We investigate how non-economic quality of life relates to and influences important domains such as inequality, population density, immigration patterns etc. If this is slightly intriguing and you want to read more.... welcome to the 'dark side' my friend 😉
- What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
Definitely, without a doubt, my supervisor for both my M.Com and PhD., Prof. Wim Naude. That is why, in my opinion, we need more enthusiastic mentors/supervisors to guide young academics. The influence they have on the future researchers is immeasurable. Not to mention the accumulated knowledge....
- What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
We need more interdisciplinary research being done. True interdisciplinary. There should be an economist- be it regional, development, health or micro-, psychologist, sociologist etc on every project. There will be no limit to what we truly can accomplish. In my opinion, the field of economics still has so much to contribute and it is definitely an under -utilized resource. Advice for future QoL researchers? Do not let the past determine your future choice of research partners. Economists have in the past been extremely stubborn to appreciate the value created by quality of life studies but it is my young(ish) generation of new social economists that is changing the mindset from 'behind the enemy lines' 😉 I would be a terrible collaborator (not to mention a person) if I did not acknowledge my partner in crime, Dr. Talita Greyling. I didn't let the past dictate my future and I couldn't have made a wiser decision. Choose wisely future QoL researchers...
- How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
I have been a member since 2007. First conference I presented for was at Rhodes University in South Africa. I can still remember how terrified I was.... In the middle of my Phd thesis and there I had to go and make a 'contribution' and speak in front of the 'best of the best'. The reason I chose to stay a member and start to play a more active role is simply because during my first conference, even though I knew nothing and was scared beyond belief, everyone treated me with kindness and respect. I knew that this was where I belonged. Add to this that I had the pleasure of escorting one of the nicest men I have ever met, Prof. Joe on his trip to Soweto and Pilansberg and I knew my fate was sealed. Any society that was co-founded by him must be great! My involvement in the society has made me more focused and has pushed me to higher levels of achievement.
In my day-to-day life, being a member of ISQOLS have had some great outcomes. I absolutely adore teaching first-year Economics students. There is something to be said for being presented with a challenge of changing students' predetermined mind set about what exactly constitutes the study of Economics. Most (if not all) simply see the mathematics and graphs and therefore loath it. I include quality of life research in my lectures and ensure that they see the value Economics add to their successful behaviour and interaction in society. This has been extremely successful and I received the 'Best Lecturer' award for the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law and a second award for the same achievement but this was for Auckland University of Technology (AUT) as a whole.
My passion for merging research and curriculum has helped me to become the Undergraduate Programme Director for the School of Economics and I am determined to help students see how Economics and Data Analytics is vitally important for making and implementing positive policy changes to increase people's quality of life.
In 2012, I joined the Journal of Happiness Studies editorial team and I am still working alongside Prof. Antonella Delle Fave looking after the Economics branch for the journal. This role has provided me with a huge learning opportunity and helps me to stay on top of the current research being conducted.
Stephanie Rossouw can be reached at stephanie.rossouw