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An Economist Goes Back to School


An Economist Goes Back to School

Keiichi Ogawa, advisor for the Japanese Ministry of Education and Professor, Graduate School of International Cooperation, Kobe University, Japan

When the offer of an associate professorship at Kobe University in Japan presented itself in 2004, Keiichi Ogawa (Ph.D., 1999) knew immediately where to turn for advice. Since graduating from TC with a Ph.D. in Comparative International Education/Economics of Education, Ogawa had been working as an education economist at the World Bank. His work took him to far-flung places like Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Turkey, Yemen and Zambia.
Now, though, academia was calling. Before making such a life-changing decision, Ogawa decided to seek the trusted opinion of his former academic advisors at TC: Professors Gita Steiner-Khamsi and Francisco Rivera-Batiz. “They knew I’d come to TC to become a professor myself, and they encouraged me to take the job,” Ogawa recalls.
Economics had seemed an unlikely career for Ogawa during his undergraduate days at Hawaii Pacific University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language in 1991. From Hawaii, he headed to California to complete a master’s degree in international multicultural education at the University of San Francisco in 1993.
Even at TC, Ogawa did not initially turn to economics. By the mid-1990s, however, he was well on his way to earning a Ph.D. in Economics and Education, winning a TC student grant to complete his dissertation, “Education Policies and Economic Efficiency: The Case of Indonesia.”
During his years at the World Bank, Ogawa published consistently on topics ranging from an economic and financial analysis of the $120-million Yemeni Basic Education Expansion Project to a policy analysis of education and labor markets in Turkey.
Now a full professor at the Graduate School of International Cooperation at Kobe University, Ogawa feels he has the best of both worlds. He gets to do research: in 2008 alone, he co-edited two books, wrote two journal articles and published 11 book chapters on topics ranging from skills development in the garment industry in Laos to secondary education and the labor market in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, he still has the time for field visits, acting as an advisor for the Japanese Ministry of Education, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Japan Bank for International Development, and also a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, UNESCO and the World Bank.
All of which has earned him TC’s Early Career Award, which he received at the College’s Academic Festival in New York City in April 2009.
“I quite enjoy my teaching,” he says. “I think the diverse community of students and professors from so many backgrounds at TC helped prepare me for an international environment.”
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