With the dollars allocated to me for membership in professional organizations, I have maintained a membership in the Agriculture and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). Within the organization, I am in the Community Economics Network (CENET) and the Committee on Women in Agricultural Economics (CWAE). As a result, I receive email updates regarding community economics at other universities. There are a couple of things I have been hearing lately, professional chatter, if you wish, that I would like to share.
First, agricultural and applied economics' departments across the United States are under tremendous pressure. In Nevada last spring, the Provost of the University of Nevada proposed closing the entire College of Agriculture and laying off all faculty in the Department of Resource Economics. Now just a few weeks ago, the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Clemson proposed disbanding the Agriculture Economics Department and sending the faculty to the economics and/or math departments depending on their qualifications.
In the string of emails discussing this, one person suggested that agriculture and/or applied economics is actually a subset of economics, and therefore, that perhaps all these programs should be covered within the economics department.
Agricultural economics departments have traditionally been part of the College of Agriculture, given their strong ties to agriculture. However, over time, agricultural economics has evolved into applied economics, covering a wide range of topics that are not necessarily related to agriculture. Thus, the question of the placement of the departments can start to feel legitimate.
I share this with my colleagues, so you can be aware of trends at the national level.
Second, you may or may not know, but Rob King with University of Minnesota's Department of Applied Economics, is the President-Elect of the AAEA.
Finally, in the spirit of our conversation last week about working with communities to help mitigate "shocks" to the community (could be construction, flood, etc), a potential session topic for the 2011 AAEA meeting is : Fiscal responses of rural/small communities to disasters and other emergencies. I will keep you posted if I hear of any research in that area. I thought it might dovetail nicely with some of our programs.