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First place

International essay winner focused on COVID-19 debt accumulation

Student Life

By Chad Pelley

A Memorial student has won an international student essay contest, besting submissions from students at universities such as Harvard and Carleton.

Allison Knee leaning agasint a grey rails with windows in background
Allison Knee’s essay questions how Canadian governments responded to the increase in debt resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo: Submitted

Allison Knee is in her fourth year working towards two separate degrees: a bachelor of science in economics and a bachelor of business administration.

The Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest invites students worldwide to share their ideas on public policy; the winning undergraduate student receives $1,500.

Winning essays are often published in Fraser Institute journals, giving students the opportunity to experience the peer review process.

Probing the pandemic

Each year’s contest has a theme. This year’s was “What In the World Would Adam Smith Say?”

Smith (1723-90) was widely known as the father of modern economics.

Students were asked to draw on his 1776 book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, to construct an essay that extrapolates his thoughts and applies them to a recent episode in history, or a current Canadian policy issue.

Referencing Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, she applied his ideas to how Canadian governments responded to the increase in debt resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In line with Smith’s negative view of large accumulations of debt, her essay argued that governments should be emphasizing economic recovery plans more extensively to ensure that Canada’s outstanding debt will be lessened over time.

Prof prompted her to apply

Dr. Kam Hon Chu, Ms. Knee’s professor in the Department of Economics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, encouraged her to apply to the contest after she asked him to keep her informed of any opportunities.

“I thought it looked interesting, so I decided to work on it as a summer project,” she said.

For her efforts, she secured $1,500 to put towards a new iPad.

Dr. Chu says Ms. Knee was among the top students in both economics courses he taught in the spring semester. He acted as a supervisor on her essay, and credits her motivation for excellence and willingness to work hard to her win.

“Although she was taking courses and I was also teaching three courses, both of us were willing and able to input our time and effort to go through numerous drafts and revisions in order to come up with a good essay.”


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