Meet the Lecturers: Mike Brock

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Mike Brock – Economist, Environmentalist, Baker!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?

I am originally from the West of England and came to Norwich in 2007. Having completed my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UEA, I began as a lecturer in August 2014.

My main interests are in behavioural and environmental economics.  In particular, I focus upon looking at how and why people attach value to the environment and how we can use behavioural economics to try and help people to act in more environmentally sustainable ways.

 

What do you think makes studying Economics at UEA special?

Personally, I think one major aspect is Norwich itself, which is a really interesting city with a lot to offer and a lot to see.  This is also true of Norfolk and the surrounding area, and whilst here as a student I really would encourage you to take time to visit the Broads, the coast and some of the other major attractions in and around the city.

Regarding studying itself, I have always found that the staff here at UEA Economics are very interactive and open towards engaging and socialising with their students.  We try to make the atmosphere ‘informal’ in the sense that we hope students feel comfortable to seek help when they need it, can challenge our ideas in classroom discussions and can also spend time with us outside of the learning environment and get to know what the life of an academic is like on a professional and personal level.

How does a degree in Economics prepare you for your future career?

Without doubt Economics opens up so many channels career-wise and, contrary to what many of your family and friends may perceive, you will not all have aspirations to head straight to The City to work in a bank!  Indeed, if anything I think that the diversity of areas within your degree course allows you to seek out your own interests and learning strengths and then select a career which will complement these strengths.

We also ensure that throughout your degree you have opportunity to acquire many of the necessary skills that will prepare you for a given career path, without necessarily forcing you to take multiple modules that will be inapplicable for certain jobs.  These include skills for research, gaining numerical competency and also providing the tools to think and write for non-academics in areas such as consultancy and policy advisory roles.

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What do you enjoy most about your job?

The lecturing and the flexibility that comes with teaching people who (a) want to be here and (b) have such a fresh outlook on economics and what it means. Every year I am surprised by  the new and insightful perspectives that our students bring to the class and it makes me realise just how lucky we are to study such a unique and ever-changing subject.

It is also great to be able to teach modules where I can apply my own research and show students how and where academic work done at a university can have a real impact in understanding how and why humans make the economics and behavioural decisions they do.

What should students expect from their first year?

I think it is fair to say that first years should expect there to be some aspect of the course which really challenges them, but there will also be something to reassure that they have enrolled onto a programme where they gain real skill and ability.

Expect to do some mathematics and statistics which will be new to you, but keep an open mind and recognise that this mathematics is designed to ‘tie-in’ with the economic theory that you will be learning at the same time.  You will then towards the end of the year have a ‘light-bulb’ moment where you see just how everything fits in and realise there was a point to becoming re-acquainted with maths!

Also try and realise you are no longer at school.  On the one hand, this means you should not see your lecturers as ‘teachers’ who just give you the answers, but are people who you can visit outside of the lecture time and can have a conversation with to work through both personal and course-related problems you encounter.  On the other hand, you need to realise that university is all about learning how to learn independently, and you need to use the first year to find out what type of learner you are and configure how to make the optimal use of your time.

What are your interests away from academia?

I have a really keen interest in wildlife and conservation and enjoy making the most of living in a beautiful part of the UK both scenically and ecologically. I am also very sporty, and enjoy swimming, racket sports and (watching) football as I am a keen Arsenal Fan.

Finally, I am a really keen baker and often enjoy baking and trying out new recipes in my spare time.  I find this a really relaxing pastime and it is also a great excuse for inviting friends around for dinner…  I also bring this into my workplace, and will frequently do charity bake sales in the corridor on ARTS 3!

 

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A stunning example of Mike’s baking skills

 

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