Known among staff and students as a Lecturer in Economics, Dr Marie Briguglio’s role at UM extends far beyond that. She is Malta’s Principal Investigator on a number of research projects, thus collaborates with various public sector organisations, she has also won the UM’s Research Excellence Grant, and she sits on the UM’s Research Ethics Committee, as well as the Committee for Sustainability.
She is also an elected member on the Advisory Board for the Society for the Advancement of Behavioural Economics.
One of Dr Briguglio's research interests is Environmental Economics, which explains her avid participation in environmentally-related community outreach activities, and the subsequent awards she received, namely the Award for Applied Research Impact by the University of Stirling, the World Intellectual Property Organisation Award for Creativity, a Malta Innovation Award, a Golden Star Award for Active Citizenship, a Malta Broadcasting Award for Current Affairs and Culture Education, and the WWF Malta Green Media Personality award.
Her particular journey is what has probably led her to co-author No Man’s Land: People, Place & Pollution, with artist and illustrator, Steve Bonello.
The book, which covers varying themes from hunting to mobility to land use and pollution in Malta, is a much-needed refreshing take on these issues in both written and visual form.
Having recently won an award in the literary Non-Fiction category at National Book Prize 2019, the Newspoint team asked Dr Briguglio a few questions on how the book came to be.
1. How did you and Steve get to collaborate?
I had also often used Steve's cartoons to illustrate my lectures. One day, it crossed my mind that we could do something that brings my research work in unison with Steve's art. We started with a mammoth task of organising and digitising all his cartoons. Then, I sorted them by my own research themes: traffic, over-building, noise pollution. The book had started to take shape.
2. What does winning the prize mean to you?
The first vote of confidence came from Kite Group’s accepting to publish it. The second was the extent of attention it got in the media. Then the hardback edition sold out. Winning the book prize meant that the book could have a longer legacy than we expected.
It can be read at one go, or even just as little snack reads.
3. The book is tragicomic. Is there hope? What can people do?
My speech at the awards was a few seconds long. I said "It took 3 decades of environmental damage to make this book possible. It would be great if the next decade starts to reverse that." In truth, a lot of the damage to our built and natural heritage is irreversible. Yet there is still so much to fight for. When I cycle to work, I go through country lanes I hope will not be widened, and villages which still attract people to sit in the church square despite the car pollution they endure. We need to make known our demand for environmental quality to create the political will to get things done. And by "things", I don't mean cement and tarmac. I mean greener spaces, walkable towns and villages, fewer cars, better air, protected landscapes, managed parking, enforcement. What people can do above all is to demand this with their voice and their vote.
4. What next?