Murray Fulton

Distinguished Graduate Supervisor Award - Fall 2007

Murray Fulton is a professor in the Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics (formerly Department of Agricultural Economics) and a Fellow in Agricultural Co-operation with the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

Murray received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985 and joined the University of Saskatchewan that year. Prior undergraduate and graduate work took place at the University of Saskatchewan, Texas A&M and Oxford. During his career at the University of Saskatchewan, Murray has served as Director of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, Department Head in Agricultural Economics and Acting Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

Murray’s research and teaching interests include industrial organization, agricultural policy, co-operative theory, intellectual property rights, and regulatory compliance. A particular interest is the examination of the changes occurring in agriculture and the response of organizations – including agricultural co-operatives – to these changes. He is currently the leader of a SSHRC Knowledge Impact in Society project designed to create a dialogue between university researchers and partners in agriculture and rural communities on the challenges facing the agricultural sector.

Since 1985, Murray has supervised 36 graduate students (11 at the Ph.D. level). These students have gone on to find jobs in industry, government and academia. Three of the Master’s students and five of the Ph.D. students are now in faculty positions in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Two of the Master’s students and one of the Ph.D. students received best thesis awards from the Canadian Agricultural Economics Association for their work.

Murray has supervised graduate students in both the agricultural economics program and the interdisciplinary program; he has also served as Graduate Chair in both programs. His approach to research and to graduate supervision is to start with a compelling problem. Selecting the correct theoretical tools to examine the problem is critical, since this choice determines the questions that are asked; this choice must not be unduly restricted by disciplinary boundaries. Equally important is to obtain an in-depth understanding of the real-life problem, including the players involved and the institutions within which they act. Effectively combining these two elements to obtain a better understanding of the problem is the art of research.

Students made the following comments about Murray's approach to supervision:  “Murray is genuinely interested in all of the graduate students - not just the students under his direct supervision.” “[He] encourages students to pursue their own ideas, even when it would be much easier to give them a ready-made research topic. He encourages his students to think through their topic ideas, gently guiding them away from blind alleys, while being enthusiastic about their research.” ”He is the type of research supervisor I aspire to be – professional yet caring, demanding yet understanding, challenging yet encouraging.”