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President's Column

July 2018

AAEA presidents have a three-year term, which maintains leadership continuity. Their roles evolve from planning in the President Elect year, to implementation in the President year, to follow-up and mentoring in the Past President year. The Presidential year culminates with our August meeting. So what has happened this year? This column offers retrospect and prospect, focusing on the new Applied Economics Teaching Resources publication, government relations, mentoring, AAEA journal publisher, and budding initiatives.   

Applied Economics Teaching Resources moves forward with Bergtold as Editor - Teaching and learning about agricultural and applied economics is central to our Association’s mission. To better address that mission, the AAEA Board voted in January to create a new publication on Applied Economics Teaching Resources (AETR). The Board just selected Jason Bergtold of Kansas State University as the inaugural Editor of the AETR. The AETR will be a new home for everything related to teaching applied economics. That embraces teaching resources from economic games to decision cases, as well as evaluation and idea exchange on effective teaching. Expect to hear more from Jason as he shapes this new AAEA publication and explores creative ways to measure the learning impact of the teaching resources published there.

Ensuring that AAEA is heard in Washington, D.C. - AAEA has started actively supporting our profession in the policy realm. It had long been AAEA policy that the Association “will take no policy positions.” Many applied economists make policy recommendations, and we wish to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. However, this policy stifled the AAEA from speaking out on behalf of member interests when peer associations were actively advocating for their own. In January 2018, the AAEA Board amended our Operating Policies to allow “expressions of support for research, education, and outreach related to agricultural and applied economics.” This small change has allowed the AAEA to advocate for USDA economic research and for including agricultural and applied economists on USDA advisory boards. AAEA will not take any position on what economic policy should be. But we are pleased now to be able to advocate the value of what agricultural and applied economists have to contribute.

Mentoring - When I ran for AAEA President, I promised to expand mentoring opportunities for job market candidates at the winter ASSA and also to offer workshops to build communication skills. At the 2017 ASSA meetings, we created a mentoring match-up program that has connected well over a hundred job market candidates with established professionals over the past two years.  This initiative supplements the informal mixing at the AAEA reception for Early Career Professionals at ASSA. On the communication front, I am very

excited about this summer’s post-conference workshop on Science Communication and Media Engagement, which AAEA is conducting jointly with the American Association for the Advancement of

Science (AAAS). When AAEA members do timely, important research, like the work featured in the Choices theme on the US-China Trade Dispute and Potential Impacts to Agriculture, our impact is magnified by reaching out to the media. The AAEA-AAAS workshop will show how.

AAEA journal publisher planning - AAEA journals have had a wonderful nine-year run with Oxford University Press. With our contract expiring in December 2020, the Association issued to academic publishers a request for proposals. The Executive Committee and representative editors from the AJAE and AEPP will interview the top three candidate publishers (including OUP) on July 26. During its August 3-4 meeting, the AAEA Board will select a publisher for the years 2021-25. Conveniently, the AJAE’s newly released journal impact factor for 2016 leaped to 2.46 from 1.83, highlighting the impact of our research. By the way, to mark the AJAE centennial, the editors will host an organized symposium on how the journal and its content have evolved (August 7, 1:00-2:30pm, Coolidge Room, Washington Marriott Wardman Park).

Future initiatives - The AAEA Board will be looking into several future initiatives this summer:

  1. How to revitalize AAEA Employment Center at the summer meetings? With the migration of many academic job interviews
    to the winter ASSA meetings, AAEA has
    boosted support to job market candidates at that forum. We are looking to expand job offerings for MS graduates through a job fair. Got suggestions? Let us know!
  2. Exciting mentoring initiatives for early and mid-career researchers are set for Board approval.
  3. To ensure good professional conduct and freedom from harassment at our meetings, the Board will consider a new policy proposal.
  4. To facilitate child care access during AAEA meetings, the Board will consider a new proposal.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as AAEA President this year. AAEA is an extraordinary community of passionate, thoughtful economic professionals. That community bubbles with good ideas, making our whole much greater than the sum of its parts. We are fortunate to rely on the leadership of Executive Director Kristen McGuire and the rest of AAEAs staff team. After August 7, I look forward to becoming Past President and to supporting implementation activities led by President David Zilberman and planning by President-Elect, Keith Coble.

Scott M. Swinton
AAEA President