5 Questions with New Colombo Plan Scholar, Max Douglass

Max Douglass NCP Scholar

The New Colombo Plan scholarship prize, announced on Monday by the Australian Government, enables Australian scholars to live, study and work in the Indo-Pacific region for up to 12 months.

Final year Economics (Advanced) student, Max Douglass is one of 5 scholars from the University of Adelaide to be awarded the New Colombo Plan Scholarship for 2021.

Max is looking forward to further advancing passion in economics, academically and professionally. The highly-sought scholarship will fund Max’s honours year at the National University of Singapore , Singapore, where he will also have the opportunity to intern, network and develop cross-cultural skills. 

Why did you choose the National University of Singapore as a destination to study economics?

In choosing Singapore, the National University of Singapore (NUS) was the clear choice as a destination of study. NUS has a world-class faculty and is the top university for social sciences in the Indo-Pacific region. Being located in an English-speaking country, NUS also plays an important role in facilitating exchange of research between the Anglosphere and universities in the Indo-Pacific, whilst reaping the benefits of both. Singapore and Australia are also highly multicultural societies, and through spending time in the former I am hoping to develop a more nuanced understanding of the opportunities and challenges that multiculturalism gives rise to. 

How are you planning to use your NCP scholarship opportunity to further your professional career? 

I am planning on utilising the scholarship to pursue my research interests, investigate my career options and develop cross-cultural skills. My thesis research in Singapore will primarily revolve around the institutional legacy of European colonialism in the Asia-Pacific region. I am planning on following this up with an internship at an international development organisation such as the OECD or World Bank, where I can apply my research to contemporary development practice. 

I am further hoping to complete a 6-month stint in health economics and policy with the goal of developing my forecasting skills and data literacy. The entirety of the program will be supplemented by a language course in Mandarin, a language that will be crucial in navigating Australia's economic and strategic future.

In your opinion, why is it important for Australia build long-term ties with the Asia-Pacific region? 

With two-thirds of economic growth occurring in Asia, a strong and predictable relationship with the region has never been more important for Australia's economic future. Moreover, as the United States becomes more inward looking (though this may change), effective engagement with the democracies of the region is crucial to Australia's security policy.

What are you currently doing with your time to keep busy from now and until you start honours?

I am completing a summer internship with Deloitte Access Economics in Adelaide, where I have been exposed to a variety of fascinating client work and blessed with a great team. Before Semester 1 begins however, I am planning on a short backpacking trip across the east coast of Australia. 

Finally, what opportunities have the University of Adelaide provided you to help you on this journey?

The University of Adelaide has been instrumental in my post-secondary school professional development, and I regard my receipt of the NCP scholarship as another expression of the amazing opportunities that this University has to offer. 

Since commencing in 2017, I have been involved with the University in a variety of ways. The highlights of my involvement have been, amongst other experiences, assisting Professor Lisa Hill with her recently published book, working as a mentor at Wirltu Yarlu, providing undergraduate input on a School of Economics committee, and completing (albeit virtually) an exchange at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.

To new students looking to get the most out of their university career, I recommend jumping at any opportunities that arise, as you never know what doors they will open. Additionally, get to know your professors and lecturers - from my experience they love nothing more than a student with a genuine passion for their (often niche) field. My rich experiences at university have often arisen from as little as a conversation with a professor, or a 30-second online application.

I would particularly like to thank Professor Lisa Hill from the School of Social Sciences for her unrelenting support of my academic goals, and Dr. Benjamin Madden for his engaging conversations and personal support. I owe a huge intellectual and personal debt to them both.

Tagged in News, Honours