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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


News from AEDE: December 2015

  1. Letter from Tim Haab, AEDE Department Chair

    As another semester comes to an end, and another calendar year turns, I continue to be grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the students, staff and faculty of AEDE. Reflecting on the changes in AEDE over the past year I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the holes created in our faculty with the retirements of Dr. Carl Zulauf, Dr. Doug Southgate and Dr. Cam Thraen—all of whom started their careers at Ohio State within a year of each other in 1980-81. With over 100 years of service to AEDE between them it will be impossible to replace the breadth and depth of knowledge Drs. Zulauf, Southgate and Thraen brought to AEDE in their time here; and it would be futile to try. But as the turn of a new year always reminds us, time marches on, and new opportunities arise.

    Over the coming months the AEDE faculty will be interviewing candidates for four new faculty positions. Hiring four new faculty members at once is a challenge the faculty does not take lightly; hiring this cohort could determine the direction of AEDE for the next generation of students. You can take a look at our website for details on each of the four positions we have advertised:

    • Agribusiness,
    • Sustainable Food and Farm Policy,
    • Sustainable Development and Economy, and
    • Global Economic Modeling.

    The position in Agribusiness bolsters our programs in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics. The position in Sustainable Food and Farm policy is the first of three positions (along with Global Economic Modeling and Sustainable Development and Economy) partially funded through the University-wide Discovery Themes Initiative. Complementary to our strengths in agriculture, the Sustainable Food and Farm Policy position will provide teaching and research expertise on policies at the intersection of food, farming and sustainability. Similarly, the Sustainable Development and Economy position will provide teaching and research expertise at the intersection of economics, development and sustainability. The Global Economic Modeling position will provide a teaching and research skill set in the rapidly growing application of large-scale, computer-intensive models to global economic issues.

    At times of change, such as this, it is normal to wonder: What will AEDE be in the future?  I have a simple answer to that: we will be a collection of the best faculty and staff we can hire, committed to generating and disseminating new knowledge in applied economics. I am a firm believer that our hiring should dictate the direction of our programs, rather than our programs dictating the direction of our hiring. A defining characteristic of any high quality program is the continual hiring of high quality people and letting those people do what they do best. I believe we have the finest faculty and staff around and they are committed to providing the highest quality knowledge and service to our students. 

    As Department Chair, I have the opportunity to serve an outstanding group of faculty and staff; watch as they change the way others think; challenge others to examine their preconceived notions; cause others to grow in their confidence and their knowledge. If you have the opportunity this holiday season, I encourage you to join me in thanking our dedicated faculty and staff for their commitment to the betterment of society through education.

    I wish you and your family the best this holiday season and Happy New Year.

  2. SUSTAINS: Ohio State's Sustainability Learning Community

    Did you know that an AEDE staff member had a critical role in bringing an innovative sustainability learning program that operates outside of the classroom to Ohio State students?

    SUSTAINS (Students Understanding Sustainability and Taking Action to Improve Nature and Society) is an Ohio State learning community targeted at undergraduates studying or interested in the environment.

    Gina Hnytka, an AEDE staff member, is one of the founders of SUSTAINS and currently oversees programming for the community. At AEDE, Hnytka directs program management for the Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS) undergraduate major and supervises AEDE student services for undergraduate and graduate programs. 

    How did SUSTAINS come to life?

    Early in 2013, through her work with the EEDS program, Hnytka identified a need to provide opportunities for students to engage around issues of sustainability both inside and outside of the classroom. Students seemed eager for opportunities to pursue professional development, education, and other growth opportunities related to social, economic, and environmental sustainability, but they needed structure and a supportive community of peers, professionals, and faculty. The EEDS program was instrumental in supporting Hnytka’s proposal for this new initiative and in helping her to identify the group’s exhaustingly long, but meaningful acronym: SUSTAINS.

    After garnering solid support from the community’s partners: Ohio State University Housing in the Office of Student Life, AEDE, the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), Hnytka conducted a small recruitment campaign for program launch in fall 2014. Students applied to the program and the result was a group of 15 fantastic students who became what she now refers to as the “roots,” or the foundation of the SUSTAINS learning community. These students were enrolled in a variety of major programs but all were engaged with sustainability offices and organizations on campus.

    Fast forward to year two and there are now 40 students living in the SUSTAINS learning community. This includes 25 new members (or what Hnytka calls “shoots”) and 15 upper-class members, some of which returned to the group as mentors, or “roots,” in their second year in the program. Sixty percent of the participants are enrolled in majors outside of CFAES. This connection to the larger campus community allows the students to engage with partners from many disciplines in the context of sustainability. 

    Aaron Moore, the Residence Hall Director for the building in which SUSTAINS is housed, is Hnytka’s co-lead for the program. Moore’s knowledge of co-curricular programming, effort in creating new opportunities, and dedication to the success of the students has been instrumental in growing and sustaining a high-quality program. 

    So what does SUSTAINS do?

    SUSTAINS is an intentional residential experience that focuses on the exploration of the delicate balance between environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Students must apply to the learning community and, if extended an offer to join the group, all live in the same residence hall to better facilitate peer-to-peer engagement and learning. All members move to campus a few days early and participate in an early arrival program, which includes a welcome dinner with faculty, staff, and students (and their families); a day-long retreat; and this past year, a service day at Stratford Ecological Center.

    All first year SUSTAINS students enroll in a seminar class with Hnytka during the fall semester. During this seminar experience students participate in dialogue around current issues in sustainability and have the opportunity to interact with and learn from experts on specific topics. Participants are also required to create and present a project proposal at the end of fall semester. This project must focus on improving an existing sustainability initiative on campus or developing a new one. At the end of the semester, students present their project proposals and vote on which project the entire group will implement during spring semester 2016. Current proposals include a community garden in the North Residential District, a large scale community service day sponsored by SUSTAINS, a recycling education campaign targeting local elementary schools, and reusing K-Cups to grow seedlings which will be donated to area gardens and campus dining services. 

    SUSTAINS also offers a robust calendar of events with a large number of engagement and growth opportunities for students. Over the past two years, the community has engaged with many professionals, agencies, and policymakers during a professional development trip to Baltimore and Washington D.C.; participated in the annual OEFFA conference; toured Blue Rock Station; completed community service hours with OSU Zero Waste, FLOW, Franklinton Gardens, OSU Wetlands, 4th Street Farms, Indianola Gardens, and other organizations; canoed the Olentangy with COMPAS; presented to Cardinal Turkson; learned about climate change and ice cores; hosted multiple dinner and dialogues with professionals and faculty…and the list goes on.

    What began as a small project to support students has grown into a well-respected sustainability program for undergraduate students on OSU’s campus. If interested in learning more about SUSTAINS or collaborating with the group, please contact Gina Hnytka at

    First and third images: SUSTAINS students during their Fall 2015 professional development trip to the Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD region. Second image: Gina Hnytka.

  3. Faggian Named the 2015 Geoffrey J.D. Hewings Award Winner by the North American Regional Science Council

    Professor Alessandra Faggian was recently named the 2015 Geoffrey J.D. Hewings award winner at the 62nd annual North American meeting of the Regional Science Association International. The annual conference brings together hundreds of regional scientists working in North America.

    The award, which was named in honor of Professor Geoffrey J.D. Hewings who introduced numerous graduate students to the study of regional science and mentored them as young scholars, recognizes distinguished contributions to regional science research by scholars who have completed their doctoral studies in the last 10 years. Dr. Faggian received her PhD in Economics from the University of Reading in 2005.  

    In her work at Ohio State, Dr. Faggian studies regional and urban economics, demography, labor economics and the economics of education. Her research on innovation has made ground-breaking contributions to the understanding of how regional knowledge spillovers lead to innovation. Her publications cover a wide range of topics including migration, human capital, labor markets, creativity, and local innovation and growth.

    She has co-authored over 50 academic publications, of which 38 are in referred journals. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Oxford Economics Papers, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Journal of Economic Geography, Feminist Economics, Geoforum, Regional Studies, Papers in Regional Science and the Journal of Regional Science. She is co-editor of Papers in Regional Science and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Regional Science and Regional Studies, Regional Science.

    In 2013, Dr. Faggian was appointed by the European Commission as one five jurors to select the European Capital of Innovation 2014 (iCapital Award). In 2010, she was elected councillor-at-large of the Regional Science Association International. In 2012, she became a member of the Board of Directors of the Western Regional Science Association and she was elected councillor-at-large for the North American Regional Science Council.

    In 2008, AEDE’s Professor Elena Irwin was also awarded the Professor Geoffrey J.D. Hewings prize.

    AEDE continues to cement its reputation as one of the top programs in the field of regional science. The department has received prominent awards in the field, hosted a graduate student conference on regional economics, has faculty travel extensively for engagement in the subject area, and the two most popular academic journals in the field of regional science are co-edited by AEDE faculty.

    Additionally, in a recent independent study that ranked authors based on the number of publications in the ten core regional science journals during the period 2010-2014, Professor Mark Partridge was ranked as the most influential author working in the field and AEDE’s program was ranked as the number one regional economics program in the U.S. and among the top five in the world.

  4. AEDE Profiles: Jack Willoughby

    We recently sat down with AEDE master’s program student Jack Willoughby, a Princeton, New Jersey native and First Team Academic All-American, to talk all things football, applied economics, and life after graduation. Check out our Q & A with him.

    You are a member of our school’s famous football team. Tell us about this experience and how you made it to Ohio State.

    I originally played football at Duke University as an undergrad where I was a double major in economics and statistics. I went to Duke having never previously played football. I had always played sports and I was on the soccer team in high school. I was planning on playing soccer in college but I was also a huge college football fan. My grandfather played at the University of Oregon and I grew up loving college football. I thought I could either be a bench player on the Duke soccer team or take a shot at kicking a football as I could always kick a soccer ball pretty straight and far. I thought it would be pretty awesome to live out a dream of mine and try to play collegiate football. So, I bought an instructional DVD and taught myself how to kick and then managed to walk on to the Duke team as a freshman.

    At first I was the fourth string kicker at Duke, however the three kickers ahead of me were seniors when I was a freshman and they graduated. Before my second season, Duke recruited the number one kicker in the country, so for most of my sophomore and junior years I backed him up. However, at the end of my junior year I started to do kickoffs for the team while he kicked field goals. We continued this way through my senior year.

    By the end of my football career at Duke I had never kicked a field goal in my life in a competitive game and I really wanted to. So, I decided that I would try to look around and see if I could find a good team with a need for someone like me who can do kickoffs and who could also have a shot at kicking field goals. I made a list of all of the schools that I would want to play for, then I started doing research to see if they had quality kickers and if they might have a need for someone with my skills. I put together a highlight tape and sent it out to a bunch of coaches. I heard back from schools and underwent the first recruiting process of my life. I decided on Ohio State based on both the football and academic opportunities that I felt that I could take advantage of here.

    When I arrived I was in a kicking competition with the incumbent kicker, Sean Nuernberger. Sean, by the way, has become one of my best friends at Ohio State. I ended up starting on both kickoffs and field goals for the first nine games of the season while Sean started on field goals in the last three games and I continued to do kickoffs.

    Wow, that’s a pretty incredible story. So, tell us why you chose AEDE for your graduate studies at Ohio State.

    I chose the AEDE program in applied economics because I think that to really make change in the world one needs the practical knowledge of how to apply economics to the issues facing our global community today. I thought that this program would teach me how to apply economics to correct inefficiencies in things like trade, environmental resource allocation, and agriculture. I knew that these skills would also translate well to other fields.

    Before starting the program I also didn’t know much about agriculture, the environment, and resource allocation, and I knew that through this program I would get to learn about these areas and how to apply economics to challenges in these fields.

    Finally, I thought studying applied economics at the graduate level would be fun and intellectually stimulating. I was also attracted to the fact that I could complete the degree in one year.

    What have been some of your favorite things about studying in our applied economics program?

    I like the fact that the MS program enrolls students from a variety of backgrounds. Personally, I have a lot of experience in economics and statistics from my undergraduate studies. However, during that program I had very little interaction with topics such as agriculture, the environment, resource allocation, as well as international trade and development. However, compared to me others that I have met in the program have less background in economics but considerably more background in fields such as agriculture, sustainability, or trade. It’s an interesting mix of backgrounds and perspectives that students bring to the table and I have learned a lot from my interactions with other students in the program.

    I also appreciate the fact that I have learned a lot about applied economics beyond theoretical economics.

    One of my favorite classes has been my cost-benefit analysis class with Dr. Allen Klaiber. He’s really a great teacher. I learned as a statistics major at Duke how to combine elicitation and bayesian statistics to incorporate uncertainty and most accurately calculate a range of results for a cost-benefit analysis. While this may have yielded the most statistically accurate forecast, simplicity of methodology is important when trying to convince people, like a budget committee, to agree with a proposal. Dr. Klaiber's course has taught me that the interpretability of methods is as important as accuracy of results in the real world.

    I’ve also really liked Professor Ian Sheldon’s international trade economics class as I think that the content is really current. There is a lot going on right now in the world that has to do with international trade, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and presidential political discussions on things like labor migration and currency manipulation. In the course, we are provided with an international trade toolkit to understand what’s going on in the world, which makes reading the news more engaging.

    So, what’s next after you graduate in the spring?

    Well, the summer after my junior year at Duke I interned at McKinsey & Company in New York City. As an intern I spent half of my summer working for a financial services company and the other half for a state government energy authority. I was offered a job after graduation at McKinsey, which I deferred for a year to come to Ohio State to study and play football. This summer I will move to New York and begin my job.

    At McKinsey I will be consulting with a wide variety of companies. I am looking forward to traveling and working with diverse clients in different locations. This will give me the opportunity to figure out what field I really want to dive into and spend my life doing, which is what really attracted me to consulting.

    Any other thoughts before we sign off?

    I’ve had an awesome experience both on the football field and in the classroom at Ohio State. While the conclusion of my football career is not something that I am looking forward to, and which I am pretty sad about, I am excited for the extra 20 or 30 hours a week in my schedule that will be freed up during the spring semester, which I hope to use to take advantage of the research resources offered in the MS program.

    Photo credit, top image:

  5. 2015-2016 Agricultural Policy and Outlook Series

    The Ohio and U.S. economies are poised for continued prosperity in 2016, although growth may be slower than recent years due to uncertainties in the national and international markets, an economist with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University recently said.

    “I remain optimistic on national growth,” said Mark Partridge, a professor in the college’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) and chair of Ohio State’s C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy.

    Partridge spoke Dec. 7 during the college’s kickoff of its 2015-2016 Agricultural Policy and Outlook series. The event initiates a series of local meetings to be held statewide.

    The meetings will feature presentations by AEDE experts on matters the agricultural community should expect in 2016, including policy changes, key issues and market behavior with respect to farm, food and energy resources, and the environment. 

    In addition to Partridge, speakers for the series include:

    • Matt Roberts, a grain economist, who will discuss his outlook for the 2016 grain market.
    • Ian Sheldon, an international trade expert, who will discuss the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership and what it might mean for U.S. agriculture.
    • Brent Sohngen, an environmental economist, who will present an analysis of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and its possible impact on Ohio.
    • Ani Katchova, leader of Ohio State’s Farm Income Enhancement program, who will discuss farm transitions in U.S. agriculture.
    • Barry Ward, leader of OSU Extension’s Production Business Management program, who will present an analysis of land values, cash rents, crop input costs and potential crop profitability in 2016.

    The county meetings, which are open to the public, will be held on the following dates:

    • Dec. 16, 4 p.m., at the Attica Fairgrounds Social Hall, 15131 E. Township Road 12 in Attica. RSVP: Jon Ewald, or 800-422-3641 FREE, or register online at by Dec. 9. Cost: free with reservation by Dec. 9; $20 without a reservation.
    • Jan. 20, 8:30 a.m., at Der Dutchman, 445 S. Jefferson Ave., in Plain City. RSVP: Union County Extension, 937-644-8117 by Jan. 13. Cost: $10.
    • Jan. 20, 4 p.m., at the Bellevue VFW Hall, 6104 U.S. Route 20 in Bellevue. RSVP: Valerie Bumb, or 419-483-7340 by Jan. 13. Cost: free with reservation; $22 without a reservation.
    • Jan. 22, 9:30 a.m., at the Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster. RSVP: Wayne County Extension, or 330-264-8722 by Jan. 15. Cost: $15.
    • Feb. 15, 7:30 a.m., at the Trinity Lutheran Church, Noecker Hall, 135 East Mound St. in Circleville. RSVP: Pickaway County Extension, 740-474-7534 by Feb. 8. Cost: $10.
    • Feb. 19, noon, at Romer’s Party Room, 118 East Main St. in Greenville. RSVP: Darke County Extension, or 937-548-5215 by Feb. 12. Cost: $20.
    • Feb. 24, 6 p.m., at the Jewell Community Center, 7900 Independence Road in Defiance. RSVP: Defiance County Extension, or 419-782-4771 by Feb. 19. Cost: $15 in advance or $30 at the door.

    A meal is provided at each meeting and is included in the registration cost. Questions can be directed to the local hosts noted above.

    Additionally, a new offering this year is a webinar to enable participants to join remotely from their own home or office. The webinar will be held on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. RSVP at by Jan. 25. Cost: $10.

    For more information on the Agricultural Policy and Outlook series, visit

  6. International Trade Economist: Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Boost U.S Agriculture

    After seven years of negotiations, 12 nations agreed to terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement in early October.

    While each country now needs to ratify the agreement for it to be put into effect, an international trade expert at The Ohio State University said TPP could significantly boost the market potential for American farmers, entrepreneurs and other small-business owners.

    “TPP is the largest regional free trade agreement that has been struck in the past two decades,” said Ian Sheldon, Ohio State’s Andersons Professor of International Trade and an economist in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

    Sheldon presented on the agreement at the Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Series organized by the department. The series kicked off on Dec. 7 on the Ohio State campus.

    The partnership includes 12 countries that account for approximately 40 percent of the world’s economy: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. The agreement is anticipated to reduce more than 18,000 tariffs, including some agricultural trade barriers.

    Several institutions are forecasting impressive economic growth under TPP.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service estimates that TPP will result in a 6.6 percent increase in agricultural trade by 2025. This increase will account for an additional $8.5 billion in the agricultural marketplace, assuming the complete elimination of existing agricultural tariffs by 2025, Sheldon said.

    Additionally, the ERS anticipates that the agreement will result in a 33 percent overall increase in U.S. exports and a 10 percent increase in imports by 2025.

    “American dairy farmers may benefit from a loosened dairy sector in Canada,” Sheldon said. “Japan’s beef market will get freed up a bit.”

    In addition, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a private, nonprofit and nonpartisan research institute, estimates that under TPP, $225 billion will be added to global gross domestic product by 2025, including $77 billion to U.S. GDP. The institute forecasts that U.S. manufacturing industry exports will grow by about 4.5 percent by 2025 due to TPP.

    However, Sheldon said, some of the biggest winners look to be smaller countries involved in the partnership, such as Vietnam. 

    “We will see a much bigger impact on some of the emerging economies included in the negotiations,” Sheldon said. “For example, Vietnam is anticipated to receive a 10.5 percent increase in GDP thanks to TPP.

    “My sense is that Vietnam is a winner because China is not in the agreement.”

    Vietnam, which is a low labor cost economy, will expand as a manufacturing hub in industries such as textiles, and will have preferential access to these other 11 economies included in the agreement, he said.

    “However, at the same time, it looks like the agreement partners are trying to tighten up things like state-owned enterprises, which would impact Vietnam since it is a communist country," Sheldon said. “These stipulations could also impact China, should it choose to participate in the future.”

    Sheldon said the long-term objective of TPP is to align Asian economies and serve as a template for future free trade agreements that might include China.

    Additionally, Sheldon notes that the agreement is anticipated to have an important impact on trade in services, rules on intellectual property rights, as well as environmental and labor regulations.

    For example, through TPP there will be stricter enforcement of the Convention on Trade and Endangered Species, he said. Additionally, recognition of unions will be pushed, especially in developing countries that participate. Rules of origin will be important, which is always a complex and contentious issue in international trade discussions, Sheldon said.

    However, in regards to the impact on agriculture, trade barriers such as the labeling and approval of genetically modified foods as well as food safety issues are not included under TPP, Sheldon said, noting that these issues are seen as the stalemates of international agricultural trade debates.

    These issues are currently included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) discussions, which are under negotiation between the European Union and the U.S. If the final TTIP agreement includes these elements, agricultural trade growth under TTIP would far outweigh trade growth under TPP, Sheldon said.

    However, TTIP is still far from being agreed upon and signed.