Department highlights

Dr Birendra Rai becomes director of all Clayton undergraduate programs

Senior lecturer Dr Birendra Rai is the new director of all Clayton undergraduate programs for the Department of Economics.

For the past two years, Dr Rai has been the department director for the new PPE program, as well as providing overall coordination on mathematics for the Education Committee.

"I am slowly easing into my new role and will take over fully at the end of this semester. I am getting a lot of support and advice from Dr Jaai Parasnis and Dr Vinod Mishra," he says.

With the Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Economics directorship open, and with an Economics major in the Bachelor of Arts looking very likely, it makes sense to consolidate directorships for these four distinct but related degree programs.

Dr Rai has contributed to the teaching and design of the PPE program and consistently received good teaching evaluations.

"The Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics has been well received and we have 90 students this second year that it is running. What makes it special are the four core units which are co-designed and co-taught by staff in the three involved disciplines," he says.

"For instance, the first year core unit is organized around the theme of migration, and students are introduced to the core questions relating to migration that are of interest to each discipline. We are also strengthening the linkage to the Arts faculty in other ways which will hopefully encourage more Arts students to take up economics units."

He has taken the lead on both cross-unit coordination and teaching for the Department's mathematics needs.

"We plan to collect information about what kind of maths is needed for each unit in the department and what my colleagues wish they could utilise. Then we shall develop self-study materials so that students can find math resources tailored for particular units," he says.

What are you most excited about in this new demanding role?

"I don't have a strong personal preference, but I am excited about the new initiative with the Bachelor of Economics where we really hope to develop and differentiate this Bachelor from the Bachelor of Commerce. I think it will become a very attractive course for students in the near future," says Dr Rai.

He takes over from Senior lecturer Dr Jaai Parasnis as she has assumed the directorship of Learning and Teaching. The Department would like to thank Dr Parasnis for her excellent work with the BCom/BEc portfolio and for her ongoing work as Learning and Teaching Director.


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