Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Research by StFX student Liam Elbourne receives international attention

October 24th, 2018
Liam Elbourne

Liam Elbourne, a StFX Schwartz School of Business student from Halifax, NS, taking joint honours in business and economics, has had a busy and successful summer, gaining international attention for his research.

In June, he presented his paper “Shocks to Military Support and Subsequent Assassinations in Ancient Rome,” co-authored with former StFX economics professor Cornelius Christian, at the 52nd annual conference of the Canadian Economics Association at McGill University in Montreal. He was the only active undergraduate student to present in a regular session at this conference, which featured almost 1,000 presenters.

The paper, which showed that ancient Roman troops who relied heavily on local food sources were more likely to mutiny during drought years, thus reducing the emporer’s support and increasing the probability of their assassination, was subsequently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Economics Letters, a highly-respected outlet that has published the work of many past Nobel Prize recipients. 

Although historical in nature, the findings of this paper received extensive media exposure due to the current prevalence of droughts and global warming. Full-length stories about this research appeared in some of the world’s leading outlets, including The Smithsonian magazine (which has a print circulation of 1.8 million), The Economist (1.1 million) and The Telegraph (400,000). 

Mr. Elbourne attributes much of his success to the guidance he has received from Dr. Christian and the StFX Economics Department. 

“Coming to university without a clear idea of what field of study I might like to pursue, I feel quite lucky to have landed in one of the top undergraduate economics programs in the country,” he says. “Not only is the teaching exceptional, but the StFX Economics Department provides students the opportunity to pursue research with their professors. Without the guidance and support of Dr. Christian and the department, the incredible summer that I just had wouldn’t have been possible.”

Mr. Elbourne, who is also captain of the X-Men soccer team, will graduate in May. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in economics. 

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