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Department of Economics

Visit to the Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) at Monash University in Melbourne.

Posted on 07 February 2011

During November 2010 Prof Jan van Heerden of the Department of Economics visited the Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) at Monash University in Melbourne.

The Centre of Policy Studies specializes in the development of computable general equilibrium (CGE) models and has about twenty full time modelers in this who write software programs and algorithms as well as various types of models. They also train people from all over the world in running the models and analyzing the results. The CoPS also have a PhD program where two of the University of Pretoria graduates are currently studying. CoPS has an open door policy and welcomes any researchers in the CGE field to visit them. They would provide office space and a desk with a computer where one could sit and do research, in as much isolation as one would prefer.

William Deresiewicz wrote an article titled “Solitude and Leadership” in The American Scholar and said “If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts”. He speaks of the power of solitude that one gets in hard uninterrupted work, away from the everyday hustle and bustle.

According to Prof Van Heerden, he has been going to CoPS for this very reason - to work in an environment that gives him the opportunity to experience something of Deresiewicz’ solitude. Hard, focused, uninterrupted work becomes possible in such an environment.

During his visits he has learnt CGE modeling skills and has written a number of journal articles with the colleagues at CoPS. During the end of 2010 he was involved with writing course material for a CGE course to be presented by Mark Horridge and himself this year. He has also been invited to build a new CGE model for the Uganda National Treasury as part of a CoPS modeling team and subsequently train the Ugandeans to become CGE modelers.

“The many visits to CoPS gave me the opportunity to learn modeling techniques, the application thereof by myself or in collaboration with the colleagues at CoPS, and how to become part of a team who build models for clients and train them to implement the models” says Prof Van Heerden.

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