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AERE@SEA abstract submissions are open (a brief history of @AereOrg sessions at regional economics meetings)

Here is the link:—sea. The deadline is the end of February. 

For the first time since 2006 I’m not chairing the committee that is organizing these sessions. Please forgive me, but I’m going to take a victory lap*. 

These sessions began with a meeting called by Jim Kahn in the 1990s at the Southern Economics Association meeting. Me and another guy showed up. The problem was low quality environmental economics sessions and the proposed solution was to organize our own sessions. The conversation moved to Murphy’s Bar at some point and, importantly, Glenn Blomquist, Mark Dickie and others got on board. The group began with a funny name, Southern Appalachian Committee for Resource and Environmental Economics (SAppCREE), and that’s who sponsored the sessions (I was at East Carolina University at the time so don’t blame me for the App). These started out small with a few sessions. According to the Wayback Machine, SAppCREE sponsored 3 SEA sessions in 1997 in Atlanta (I’m not sure if that was the first year but there is a good chance it was). Here is the first session on the program: Valuation of Environmental Health EffectsThere was also a hedonics session and a teaching panel moderated by Jim Kahn with Lynne Lewis, Susan Kask, David Martin and myself as panelists. 

There were 3 more sessions in 1998 and 4 more in 1999. Look at this one from 1998 (hoo boy). In 2000 we dropped the Appalchian and just became SCREE to generate interest beyond the southern Appalachian region (haha). SCREE sponsored 4 sessions in 2000, 5 in 2001 and 4 in 2002.

Around about that time I was on the AERE Board of Directors and I wondered out loud, why doesn’t AERE sponsor sessions at the SEA meetings? I mean, Don Epp organized AERE sessions for a couple of years at the EEA meetings and AERE members have been doing “SCREE” for several years. They all looked at me funny and said OK but the AERE/ASSA program committee is going to have to look at the sessions and approve them because you, non-R1 guy, are not to be trusted. I followed orders and got the program approved for a number of years by the committee but “forget” to ask one year and no one noticed (that’s when we went all heterodox). AERE and SCREE jointly sponsored 4 sessions in 2003, 8 in 2004 and … ugh, the Wayback Machine has failed me and the SEA isn’t posting their conference archives anymore. 

So, here is a, perhaps imperfect, reconstruction from my files of the number of AERE sessions at the SEA meetings since 2006:

We dropped discussants about 10 years ago and found that the Q&A sessions were better for most presenters. Without discussants you don’t need a polished paper. I think this accounts for the increased participation after 2015. As a result, I think, the AERE@SEA sessions have evolved into a place where graduate students and new assistants are the bulk of the presenters.

The dip in the number of sessions is articial because, as an experiment, AERE organized sessions with 5 papers each. For example, in 2019 we could have had 15 sessions with 4 papers each but we organized 12 sessions with 5 papers each. We’ve decided to go back to 4 papers.

The spike in 2020 was due to covid — everyone needed something to do and an online conference doesn’t cost much (we did the AERE happy hour over Zoom). The dip in 2021 was the in-person SEA meeting before the vaccine. We were required to wear masks, but it that was scary.  A lot of people begged out. 

I don’t know the dates but AERE began organizing sessions at the other regional meetings following the success of the AERE@SEA sessions. Trudy Cameron (WEAI), Lea-Rachel Kosnick (MEA) and Kelly Maguire (EEA) started these. Jimena Gonzalez took over the AERE@EEA sessions and, just recently, Noelwah Netusil began organizing the AERE@WEAI sessions.

Many thanks to everyone who were involved in the SEA sessions in a big way: Jim Kahn, Glenn Blomquist, Sarah Stafford, Will Wheeler, Sarah Jacobson, Shana McDermott, Chris Dumas (who did I forget?) and especially Lynne Lewis, Jill Caviglia-Harris and Brian Vander Naald (who all arranged a very nice send off for me in November). Brian is taking over the sessions (with help from Lynne and Jill and maybe me) and I’m looking forward to writing my abstract, sweating it out waiting to see if it is accepted and, hopefully, presenting a silly valuation paper in an AERE@SEA session in 2023 in NOLA.

*Note: Here is what prompted my reminiscence (see AERE@SEA is “cool”):

Camp Resources, Aug in NC.
Heartland Workshop, Sep(?) at Univ. Of Illinois.
The CU-Boulder workshop usually meets in the fall.
The AERE sessions at the southern econ association meetings (Nov), this year in New Orleans.

— Casey Wichman (@cjwich) February 6, 2023

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