“Seek the welfare of the city.” – Professor Ian Harper speaking at this year’s Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.

Professor Ian Harper is one of Australia’s best known economists. He has a Bachelor of Economics, Master of Economics, and a PhD from ANU. In May 2016 he was appointed to the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. You can read one of his bios at  He also wrote a book called: ‘The Economics of Life’.

‘Economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses’  (Robbins, 1932). Despite a 35 year gap in time, I was able to recall this definition from memory, word for word from my days as an Economics student at Wesley College. Professor Harper smiled mischievously, suggesting Economics is a ‘dismal science’.

Below is a summary of his address:

  • ‘Seek the welfare of the city’. (Jeremiah Chapter 29:7)
  • There is no justice or mercy in a bad economic situation.
  • Ian’s moral framework is drawn from a public book, that is easily accessible… The Bible.
  • He gives economic guidance from a viewpoint that everyone bears God’s image.
  • As an Economist, he advises the government on how to avoid economic dysfunction because he loves his neighbour.
  • The world has never seen such dramatic growth as has been seen in China during the last 3 decades.
  • The digital economy is reshaping the world. It will foreseeably result in a wages gap.
  • We are spiritual beings.
  • Money wealth & power are false Gods.
  • My Christian Faith gives me my significance
  • I am a child of God.

Like Professor Harper, we can use our skills and talents to ‘seek the welfare of the city’. The closer Professor Harper draws to God, the more skilled he has become, and the more good he is drawn to do. I invite you to pray that our students may also experience a similar sense of relationship-inspired purpose.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Professor Harper has a rigorous mind, and compassionate heart. He inspired me as an example of someone living out our college motto.

Des Mitchell