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President's Column

November 2023

We will have a good slate of sessions at the ASSA meetings in San Antonio on January 5-7, 2024. Upon the recommendation of the TW Schultz Committee, we invited Jeff Wooldridge of Michigan State University as the TW Schultz Memorial Lecture and Awardee. Jeff Wooldridge is a University Distinguished Professor of Economics at Michigan State University and a Fellow of the Econometrics Society. His TW Schultz lecture will be held on Friday, January 5, 2024 (typically starts at 6 pm) in San Antonio. The title of his lecture is “Regression-Based Strategies for Heterogeneous Treatment Effects with Staggered Interventions.”  This would be of great interest to those interested in causal inference work. Jeff has more recently been working on extensions to two-way fixed effects. Lately, he has also been able to develop a framework that allows various estimators with extra cross-sectional controls or time period controls.

We will also have a great slate of AAEA Invited Paper sessions at the 2024 ASSA meeting:

  • Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) for Navigating the Intersections of Agriculture, Climate Change, Trade and Water Quality
  • Evaluating the Medium- and Longer-Term Health and Economic Impacts of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes
  • Research Frontiers in Agricultural Trade and Policy
  • New Insights of the Role of Women in Agrifood System
  • Farm Labor, Immigration, Wages, and Policy Impacts
  • Encouraging Women’s Use of Agriculture-Related Financial Instruments

We would like to highlight the new AAEA Teaching Academy that will be led by a Steering Committee consisting of Jason Bergtold and Na Zuo (co-chairs), Hannah Shear, Rui Chen, Jennifer Clark, Kathleen Liang, Ross Pruit, and Jerrod Penn. The goal is to provide an inclusive, innovative, effective, and evidence-based pedagogy, teaching methods, and learning tools. The AAEA Teaching Academy would consist of multiple elements that include pre- or post-conference workshops at AAEA on a rotating theme; virtual workshops held throughout the year to help participants build teaching and instruction skills; virtual conversations on teaching in agricultural and applied economics to reflect on workshops, share ideas, and build a community of practice in pedagogy; and a repository for teaching effectiveness and excellence, as well as scholarship of teaching and learning, hosted by Applied Economics Teaching Resources (AETR). In addition, the AAEA Teaching Academy will help connect graduate students and early career faculty with mentors. We also want to reach those at liberal arts and primary undergraduate teaching institutions; at 1890 and 1994 Land Grants; and those in primary teaching roles (lecturer, instructor, clinical professor, professor of practice, etc.) at 1862 Land Grants and other research institutions. That said, the workshops and resources will be valuable for faculty members at any stage who want to continue their own pedagogical education or freshen things up in the classroom.

The AAEA Mentorship Committee is working to assess the mentorship wants and needs of AAEA members at all career stages to develop future programming. They will be utilizing data collected via recent surveys, including the CWAE/COSBAE survey that many of you have completed. They will also be reaching out to a small group of individuals with focus group invitations to get more detailed input. Additionally, they are planning an in-person early career professionals’ workshop for Summer 2024 and continuing the AAEA Listening to the Diverse Voices webinar series. Special thanks to members of the mentorship committee for all their efforts: Zoe Plakias (chair), David Zilberman, Jeffrey Alwang, Cesar Escalante, Alicia Rosburg, Madhu Khanna, and Andrew Sowell.

We recently convened a meeting with the leadership teams of AAEA Sections to enhance the quality of track sessions. Tracks sessions are a set of multiple sessions submitted by AAEA Sections, scheduled throughout the meeting and devoted to a common interest area or topic. Sessions can be organized by a single Section or by multiple Sections to cover a wider range of topics. We explored ways to diversify topics across sessions, with suggestions including the organization of joint sessions and the introduction of standardized submission forms. To promote transparency and cohesion, we established a set of action items, including future implementation of a submission process using a consistent form across sections and creating a shared Google sheet to facilitate greater transparency and cooperation among Sections. In preparation for the Annual Meeting, we are also asking each Section to provide a paragraph write up/summary so we can help promote Sections during the meeting and at the registration desk. AAEA will also send this information out to new members.

The AAEA Chairs, Heads, Administrators Information Roundtable Section (CHAIRS), led by Lisa House, convened a series of meetings in Washington, DC on October 23-24. The chairs spent October 23rd at USDA-Economic Research Service with Spiro Stefanou and ERS leadership team, then met with leaders from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), NIFA, and the Office of the Chief Scientist. The meetings resulted in productive discussions about ways that AAEA and its members can strengthen collaboration with USDA agencies and offices, the importance of data, and the role of economics within the overall USDA research portfolio. They also had the opportunity to discuss key issues impacting departments including student recruitment and mental health. On October 24th, the group visited Capitol Hill and had a full day of meetings with Congressional offices. Topics included the need for federal investment in agricultural research through appropriations, the Farm Bill and AAEA’s request to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to include agricultural economics on its STEM Designated Degree list.

I wish everyone a great winter season, and I’m looking forward to seeing those who will join me in San Antonio for AAEA Sessions at ASSA!

Rudy Nayga
AAEA President