Professor Norbert Wilson was recently elected to the Board of Directors for the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA).
"I was elected to the board just this year, but I have been a part of the AAEA since I was an undergrad," said Wilson. His other elected positions within the AAEA have included chairing the Committee on the Status of Blacks in Agricultural Economics (COSBAE). "It’s one of the longstanding committees," he continued "We (the AAEA) have had a couple of different affinity groups, for blacks (African-Americans, Africans, people from the Caribbean, and others), and another one for women. We have recently developed sections for regions of the world like Latin America, China, Africa, etc. On the whole, most of the committees (or sections as we call them) are built around research topics, such as Agribusiness Economics and Management, Econometrics, Food Safety and Nutrition, even the geographic-oriented sections tend to focus on regionally-relevant research." This past year, Wilson also chaired the Mentorship Committee. "Bringing together not only researchers and faculty, but also graduate students, is one of the most important things we do as an association."
What is the AAEA?
AAEA stands for Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. The word ‘Applied’ in the title carries a particular relevance. "The Association continues to evolve. It’s very clear now that we’re not only studying agriculture, but also marketing, natural resources, international development, food and nutrition, even beer," said Wilson. "We had been operating under the name American Agricultural Economics Association for a long time, but the relatively recent change in our title truly reflects who we are. The fact that I’m here teaching at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy speaks to the fact that there are so many fields encompassed by Agricultural and Applied Economics."
The AAEA brings together association members for research, meetings, and priority setting. In addition to their annual summer meeting, they participate in the Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) meeting- a winter meeting for economists. These two meetings are crucial within the agricultural economics academic community, because they provide opportunities to share research, network with peers, and can serve as a springboard for professional advancement.
Connecting and Communicating Research
At the next meeting in Chicago (end of July), Wilson will present research on several different topics under the umbrella of agricultural and applied economics: His most recent work about food waste, a collaboration with colleagues from Syracuse University about U.S. food security, and work with former students on the international water trade. These presentations cover a variety of research interests, and will be only a small sample of the diversity of information that will be available to the meeting attendees.
In addition to the annual meeting, the AAEA produces a number of publications: American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Applied Economics and Policy Perspective, and Choices. "We're working more on communicating our work to audiences beyond ourselves, showing others the ways in which we contribute to society," said Wilson. "One of my new roles as a director will be to serve as an ambassador to the membership and the community at large."
How will the work of the AAEA be impacted in our current political climate? "When any administration comes in there will be shifts in food, agriculture, and environmental policies," said Wilson. "There will be new policies that will be relevant for the work of my colleagues: climate change, food assistance, farm policy will all potentially be affected. International trade and foreign assistance have also been a part of what we’ve looked at, as those shifts in policy could have a significant impact on what we study." Regardless of political changes, the AAEA will continue to be an intellectual space for researchers to grow and develop, said Wilson. "We, as an association, will adapt and address these important policy questions and provide relevant timely analysis to aid the public in understanding what impacts may be."
Norbert Wilson, PhD, joined the Friedman School in the fall of 2016 as a professor of food policy. Prior to his appointment here, he was professor of agricultural economics at Auburn University from 1999-2016 and was also an analyst at the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD). We are excited to have his expertise as he joins the stellar Agriculture, Food, and Environment team.