Proust Questionnaire: Luca Savarelli

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Luca Savarelli
Photo: Mika Schmelling

The Saint’s version of Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire shines a light on the musical and poetic side of economics lecturer Luca Savorelli

Luca Savarelli
Photo: Mika Schmelling

The Saint: What is your idea of perfect happiness? Rather than words comes the thought of High windows:

The sun-comprehending glass,

And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows

Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless

(Philip Larkin, High Windows)

What is your current state of mind? I feel calm and see wide horizons.

Which talent would you most like to have? I would like to be a good singer. Unfortunately, I am not such a good singing student, despite having as great a teacher as Ian Darling.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? This may come as a surprise for an economist, but it is getting a master’s degree in piano music performance while I was studying for my PhD in economics.

What is the quality you most like in a professor? I like honesty, fairness and professors that promote “fair” cooperation over “unfair” competition.

What is the quality you most like in a student? I like all students that help their peers.

Who was your favourite teacher/professor and why? While I had many good teachers, my favourite is my piano teacher Stefano Allegri. The only reason is that he is simply a great teacher and pianist who really understands your human side, and he supported me in periods of difficulty. But there is a nice episode: when I was 13 and navigating the admission process to the School of Music, I ranked last. By chance and because of someone else dropping out, I managed to get some spare slots with Professor Allegri. He believed in my efforts, and after two years I was the best student in the school. Of course, this was not because of me, but because of him.

What are you currently researching? I am studying self-determination in the workplace and the effect of letting workers have more voice about incentives schemes on their performance and well-being.

Which person in your field do you most admire? Excluding (many) colleagues in St Andrews, my PhD supervisor, Prof. Vincenzo Denicolo. He is a top economist in the field of innovation and social choice but also a great person who I fully admire.

What inspired you to pursue your current career? I just liked culture, research and intellectual activity.

When did you know what you wanted to do in life? It is something still evolving, but I can say that being awarded a position as lecturer in St Andrews can be set as milestone.

What has been your favourite experience as a lecturer? I really enjoy when students who experience some troubles at the beginning of my course then perform excellently after following my advice.

What has been your most challenging experience as a lecturer? Once a student knocked on my office door in a very confused state of mind on a late Friday afternoon. I did my best to help him and succeeded. It was very challenging, but at the same time it could be listed under question 11 as one of my favourite experiences.

If you could not work in your current field, what would you do instead? Pianist or novelist.

If you could fix one problem in the world, what would it be? People’s loneliness.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has given you? Listen.

What is your motto? Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. “Seize the day, the least believe in the future.” I like the extended version, which is the last verse of Horace’s Odes 11, book one. Take the chance to read the full poem.

Where is your favourite place to travel? The Italian Dolomites, especially a town named Auronzo di Cadore.

What are you currently reading? I am reading The Soulforge. It’s a fantasy book by Margaret Weis set in the Dragonlance world. It’s the story of the apprenticeship of one of the main characters of the series, Raistlin Majere, a mage with hourglass pupils. But if you want to start, try Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

What book should everybody read at least once? Excluding The Divine Comedy, as it’s not a book, The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati.

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