Etienne Nel is a Professor and Head of the School of Geography at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His research interests lie at the interface between urban and economic geography and development studies. To date his research and writing have focussed in particular on issues of regional and local economic development, the challenges which small towns face and community economic development. His research has been undertaken in Southern Africa and Australasia and he has published some 11 books and nearly 180 articles and chapters. He grew up in Zambia and Zimbabwe before studying and lecturing in South Africa, moving to New Zealand in 2008. He was the Managing Editor of the New Zealand Geographer for 6 years and is the Australasian editor for Local Economy and the Journal of Geography in Higher Education.
In terms of interests he loves travel, history and meeting up with friends and colleagues around the world, particular at RSA conferences!
In terms of reflections there are a few ideas which come to mind:
Firstly, I thoroughly enjoy my teaching and my research, I feel it is a privilege to have the job which I have and I believe that it is important to embrace what you like doing with enthusiasm. There are so many exciting research avenues to pursue and it is privilege to work with and encourage students who share your interests.
Secondly, as far as is possible, I believe it is important to make a difference in peoples lives in the wider community, not only by being a critical conscience in society but also through making inputs into applied development, informed by research.
Finally, at this key historical juncture, it is difficult to not feel daunted by the challenges which the world is going through, knowing that in economic terms things will probably become a lot worse before they become better. Could this be a key historical break ? Could it foreshadow a new phase of ‘creative destruction’ and perhaps even a new political economy marked by shifts in global leadership and economic management ? Whatever the outcome, I believe that those of us with an interest in economic and regional studies will be challenged to rethink our understanding of global processes and regional outcomes.