Contemporary issues reframed - Alumnus Eric Knight launches acclaimed new book

13 February 2012

Alumnus Eric Knight

Alumnus and Rhodes Scholar Eric Knight launched his new book Reframe: How to Solve the World's Trickiest Problems on February 6.

In his critically acclaimed book, Knight draws on his knowledge and experience as both a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences alumnus and an alumnus of Oxford University to deliver a fresh approach to contemporary political and economic issues.

Lev Grossman, book critic for Time Magazine says "the extraordinary breadth and depth of Knight's knowledge, and the scale of his insights, place Reframe in the rarefied company of books like Blink, The Black Swan and Freakonomics."

Despite his background in economics, Knight's book deals with a wide-range of historical and contemporary problems from tulip mania to terrorism.

Knight says in Reframe: ''Reframing is not a linguistic tool, a trick to disguise or evade difficult problems.... Seeing the answer to our problems requires us to have the right elements of the problem in focus."

Fellow alumnus and Rhodes Scholar Malcolm Turnbull launched the book, which Booksellers and Publishers has placed in its top five non-fiction books for 2012.

Eric's studies in the faculty have helped him achieve this literary success, but he didn't think he'd be doing what he is today when he enrolled in his studies at the University of Sydney in 2002.

"It was a few months after September 11 and there was a real sense of turbulence in world affairs at the time," Eric reveals. "I didn't have a clear sense of where I would end up exactly."

Eric says this uncertainty meant he spent a lot time at university trying different things.

"I think one of the key things to building a career successfully is experimenting with different paths early on in your university days," he says.

" Sydney University really offered that opportunity to pursue one's curiosity. Not all university students have that privilege and it is something very special about Sydney University."

Aside from being elected to the SRC, Eric's activities included volunteering for the Redfern Legal Centre, and as an aid worker in Costa Rica, helping people learn English as a second language and tutoring High School students trying to get into university.

"There was a common theme to all those things," he says, "a commitment to public service - but it manifested itself in different ways at different times."

A recipient of the 2007 Australia-at-large Rhodes Scholarship upon completion of his studies in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the university, Knight spent three years completing his doctorate on climate economics at Oxford University.

Eric says his time at the University of Sydney helped ground his knowledge in social sciences and law, before he pursued economics at Oxford.

"I had a great time understanding the emerging energy markets in Europe," he says, "and my supervisor turned out to be an Australian who grew up in country Victoria!"

Since completing his university studies, Knight has found himself in high demand. He has been an economics consultant to the OECD, the United Nations and the World Bank. His opinions have been sought and published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Drum, The Spectator and The Monthly.

Currently, Eric is working as an economics consultant advising an Australian government body on some major reforms.

"It's fascinating work - both in terms of understanding the economic policy as well as learning about the people and processes inside government," he says.

Eric's advice for students at the University of Sydney is to avoid worrying about where your degree will take you and instead enjoy satisfying your curiosities.

"I'm always slightly sceptical of people who know what they want to do aged 65 when they're 18 years old," he jokes.

Ultimately, Eric's example shows that by engaging your passions at university in a wide variety of fields, you can not only be taken in new and exciting directions professionally, but also use the knowledge to tackle global issues, as Eric does in Reframe.

Reframe: how to solve the world's trickiest problems is available through Black Inc. Publishing.

Gleebooks in Sydney will be hosting an event on March 7 March in which Eric and fellow alumnus and author Tanveer Ahmed discuss Reframe.

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Contact: Kate Mayor

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