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People and places

Curran Award recipients reinforce rural-Memorial University connection

By Janet Harron

Thirteen years after his death, David Curran’s influence is still being felt in the province.

Mr. Curran, an advocate for rural Newfoundland and Labrador and a former head of Memorial University’s Extension Services, passed away in 2011 at the age of 66.

Aman Gangani, a brown man in his mid-20s, sits on a wharf on a calm pond with trees in the far ground.
Aman Gangani is a co-recipient of the 2023 Curran Award.
Photo: RIch Blenkinsopp

The Harris Centre, the Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Economic Development Association and Municipalities N.L. established the David Curran Award in 2013 to recognize Memorial undergraduates who share Mr. Curran’s belief in empowering rural communities and fostering the continued connection of Memorial students and researchers to the socio-economic prosperity of people and places of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Students like the 2023 award co-recipients Aman Gangani, who is enrolled in the Faculty of Business Administration’s Bachelor of Commerce Program, and Madelaine Hart, a fourth-year geography student in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

International inspiration

“I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend time in rural Newfoundland,” he said, citing his experience during the summer of 2022 working at GreenSmith (previously G&M Family Farm) in Placentia as a marketing and sales intern.

Born and brought up in a small town in India, Mr. Gangani says that rural Newfoundland and Labrador has its own special and unique characteristics that make it beautiful.

Mr. Gangani wrote his winning essay, Regional Tourism as an Engine for Economic, Social and Environmental Growth, specifically to submit for the award.

The essay takes a broad look at the subject, citing examples in California, Yellowstone National Park, Mexico, Bali, Rwanda, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, all of which have approaches that could be potentially adapted to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Transition to degrowth

Ms. Hart acknowledges that degrowth, the subject of her essay, is a radical topic.

Madelaine Hart, a white woman in her early 20s, leans on a chain with water and trees in the background.
Madelaine Hart is a co-recipient of the 2023 Curran Award.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“Fundamentally I agree with the ideas and concepts of degrowth and, considering the specific economic history of Newfoundland and Labrador, in my opinion, it could be successfully implemented here,” said the St. John’s, N.L., native.

Simply put, degrowth reduces and changes how people consume and produce within an economy. It also addresses income inequality and redistribution.

In her paper, Ms. Hart argues that Newfoundland and Labrador’s economic history of booms and busts, usually related to the exploitation of natural resources, coupled with the disconnect between contributions to the provincial GDP and employment demographics (20 per cent goods, 80 per cent service), makes the transition to degrowth a viable alternative.

A sustainable and smaller economy based on the principles of degrowth is, Ms. Hart argues, well within Newfoundland and Labrador’s reach.

An excerpt from Ms. Hart’s paper, which she originally wrote for an economic geography class taught by Dr. Charles Mather, follows below.

Madelaine Hart paper excerpt

“As a province, we have already implemented redistribution policies that align with an equity-driven degrowth transition, in which community-based economies are created in renewable resource industries.

“The use of community-based quotas, instead of individual quotas, used in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery allows wealth to be immediately reinvested into the community itself and provides a framework for sustainable fishing.

“Similar equity distribution has the potential to occur in other sectors in the province, to work towards an evenly distributed economy that is economically and ecologically sustainable, without ever-increasing growth.”

David Curran, who was well known for not telling people what they wanted to hear, would no doubt be fascinated to hear about the thoughtful analysis presented in both Ms. Hart and Mr. Gangani’s papers, say those who knew him.

For more information on the award, please contact Bojan Furst at the Harris Centre.


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