Study in happiness secures university medal

The word happiness written on white paper with pencil nib on right.
A study in happiness has won business graduate, Christopher Ambrey, the Chancellor’s Medal.

A study in happiness has won Griffith business graduate, Christopher Ambrey, the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal.

Gold Coast-based Dr Ambrey will receive the award at a mid-year graduation ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday (July 31, 3pm) after he was the top-ranked PhD candidate at Griffith Business School for 2014.

The focus of his research was on the intersection between the economics of happiness and environmental and ecological economics. Specifically, his study compared how much life satisfaction derived from environmental factors like scenic amenity and biodiversity we are implicitly prepared to forego for the life satisfaction derived from a monetary income.

His innovative study was based on linking data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey and data from Geographic Information Systems (GIS). His findings have contributed significant new evidence to work in the areas of the economics of happiness and non-market valuation.

“Focusing solely on purely market based activity like GDP is a mistake,” Dr Ambrey said. “This kind of objective measure of wellbeing is important, but so too are subjective measures of wellbeing.

“These are very relevant to any measure of societal progress yet continue to be underappreciated in Australia.”

ChrisGradsThe award of the Chancellor’s Medal is the culmination of an education journey that started at Southport State High School where Christopher embraced the opportunity to learn about environmental economics and non-market valuation. It is a journey that has led him to his current position, a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Griffith’s Urban Research Program.

“It is a tremendous honour to be awarded the Chancellor’s Medal,” Dr Ambrey said. “It is a significant achievement which I couldn’t have done without the support of so many others. It is a great feeling to have been noticed and recognised for the considerable effort involved.”

Christopher Ambrey pursued his interest in economics, happiness and the environment as a commerce student at Griffith Business School, completing an honours degree before advancing his research to doctorate level.

Along the way he received a scholarship to support his honours year and subsequently secured the Griffith University Postgraduate Research Scholarship and the Griffith Business School Top-Up Scholarship for his PhD studies.

“What distinguishes Griffith from the crowd is its support for and its trust in PhD students who are given the flexibility to autonomously and independently pursue their research interests in a manner that works best for their project.

“Throughout the PhD I also received support for materials, further personal development, travel and conference participation throughout Australia and overseas. This provided essential exposure and experience which helped to move my research forward.

“It is hard to overstate the value of having the support of committed hard working staff at Griffith University who are passionate about what they do.”