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President's Column

October 2022

We are deep in the busy season: classes, extension programming, grant applications, reviews, papers, and the list seems endless. In the midst of all of this busyness, I hope you find time for rest and reflection. Of course, we have deadlines and people waiting on us; we have personal goals to attain. However, it does not matter if we cannot care for our families, communities, and ourselves. In caring for ourselves, we can care for others.

In my presidential address, I asked the membership to consider how we can engage in justice work in our research, teaching, extension programming, and service. My hope is for us to find ways to use our work to uplift communities that have been underserved and marginalized both locally and in distant lands. Economics is a powerful tool. We can use it to do justice work. Folks working in developing countries to understand food prices and develop effective interventions for farmers and consumers are doing justice work. Colleagues who research food security policies or programs to support are doing justice work. Addressing climate change, expanding rural opportunities, and promoting effective and less distortionary policies are all examples of how we work toward justice. These examples reflect a small subset of the work that we do. Our position, context, and history can and should shape the justice work that we are to do. However, I challenge us to move beyond our current positions to see opportunities to collaborate with communities.

We must engage communities to understand their needs and share our skills. By stopping and listening to our stakeholders, especially new and underserved ones, we can begin the collaborative work that builds capacity and leads to lasting change. Similarly, we must also engage policymakers to engage in this justice work. One example of this engagement was the recent White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health (see memo for the White House Conference).

In the development of the Conference, we had members of the AAEA engage in listening sessions. We also had the Food Safety and Nutrition (FSN) section lead the development of a statement to the Conference about our food and nutrition policy work. Alessandro Bonanno, Kathryn Boys, and Travis Smith hosted a membership discussion and developed a statement we shared with the Conference. I am grateful for the thoughtful work of the FSN section in sharing this statement with the Conference. Additional thanks to Lowell Randel of the Randel Group and AAEA Government Relations Representative for supporting this effort.

Beyond our work with policymakers and communities, we need to share our insights and findings. Our next opportunity to engage each other’s research is the Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) 2023 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, January 6-8. We have six sessions that cover topics from trade, climate, development, resources, and food retail. In different ways, these sessions reflect various paths to justice work. Thank you to the organizers and participants of the sessions at the ASSA. Your efforts help keep AAEA engaged in the discussions at the ASSA. The meeting will be in person, with limited options for participants with health concerns. Unfortunately, no Zoom option is available for remote audiences.

We are preparing for the AAEA 2023 Annual meeting. Because sections are critical to the functioning of the meeting and the association, the AAEA Board looks to the sections to develop track sessions for the meetings. We have begun working with the section leaders on the allocation of sessions. As section leaders begin their deliberations of the sessions, please reach out to Kristen McGuire, AAEA Executive Director, or me for support. If you have not joined a section, I encourage you to join at least one when rejoining the AAEA. The sections are important ways to connect to the other AAEA members, engage colleagues who work on related topics like you, and present papers in track sessions. Beyond the track sessions, AAEA members can submit abstracts for selected paper and poster sessions, which is another way to participate in the annual meetings. We will share information about submitting abstracts for selected papers and other sessions soon.

As we press toward the end of the year, I wish you rest and success in your endeavors. In your work, I hope that you heed the call to do the work of justice.

Norbert Wilson
AAEA President