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I was introduced to ecological economics at an early stage in my academic studies and considered myself fortunate to have a Ph.D. in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. At the time, ecological economics was not as well accepted as it is today.
What I believed to be true then, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case today, was that there was more acceptance of disagreement and greater opportunity to debate opinions and ideas. Under one large umbrella, we shared interest in addressing – and solving – large-scale environmental issues such as climate change and sustainability. Sadly, what I see lately is that acceptance of different approaches, thoughts, and ideas has shrunk. Instead, divisions have broadened, and groups have splintered off from ecological economics. As a result, membership in the USSEE has declined, as has its impact and importance.
We are at a time in society now, however, where we need to coalesce and work towards healing those divisions. Our climate, our health, and our sustained existence depend on us working together to find solutions. Now more than ever, we need knowledgeable debate throughout the economics world to develop policy and solutions.
One of the main benefits of organizations such as the USSEE is the unexpected interactions and the subsequent collaborations that result through the spread of knowledge and ideas. Yes, difference of opinions exists, but we share a desired outcome. As a global community, our fates are interconnected and the best way to get through these tough times is for all of us to work together.
I believe that the USSEE should have a leadership role in solving our environmental and climate problems. As President-elect, one of my core objectives will be to bring people together to bridge the gap that exists with other organizations that are like-minded and working toward the same outcomes. Simply put, working together works. Collaboration will work to develop public policies we need to address the environmental catastrophe we are facing.
To have influence, USSEE must increase our membership. This may be challenging, but we must convince people to come together for our common cause. Ecological economics needs to be open to diverse thoughts and ideas. I have participated on the USSEE Membership Committee. We have looked at ways to expand USSEE’s outreach. This is vital because, for ecological economics to be as important a voice as it needs to be, the field must be more than a journal with a good citation score. Ecological economics must make a difference in the policy arena. To do that requires larger membership. We need to develop the next generation of ecological economists by cultivating undergraduate and graduate level experiences and educational opportunities.
We can learn from, and stand on, the shoulders of the giants in the field who came before us: Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Kenneth Boulding, Rachel Carson, Donella Meadows, Herman Daly, Robert Costanza, John Gowdy, Kozo Mayumi, and others. We must reach out to people like these and bridge the gap with the next generation. Some of my ideas to do so include expansion of social media outreach, videos, summer schools, and outreach to various academic units around the country. It will be my privilege and honor to serve the USSEE as President Elect. Together we can, and we must, make a difference.
John Polimeni is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He received his B.S. in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a M.A. in Economics and a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Regulatory Economics from S.U.N.Y. at Albany, and a Ph.D. in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was awarded a Fulbright Senior Fellowship to Romania, where he is a Honorary Member of the Institute of Economic Forecasting in the National Institute of Economic Research in the Scientific Council of the Romanian Academy. He has received several research grants on his work in the area of economic development and the environment. John has published 60 peer-reviewed research articles, published four books, and eleven chapters in edited books. He has presented his research 81 times at international conferences with an additional eleven conference abstracts or posters. In addition, he serves or has served on 14 editorial boards of academic journals. John is a reviewer for the Romanian Fulbright Commission and serves as a reviewer for numerous academic journals. Lastly, John has been elected to two terms of the Schenectady (N.Y.) City Council and is a Fellow for the Elected Officials Protecting America – a group of policy-makers concerned about climate change and the environment.
Member-at-Large (2 positions)
I am an economist and public policy researcher at the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. I was born and raised in a commercial fishing family in America’s oldest seaport, Gloucester, Massachusetts. I now develop solutions to manage and prevent human interactions with endangered and protected marine mammals and sea turtles in the Northwest Atlantic. My most recent work informs decision-making to support conservation efforts to prevent the entanglement of endangered North Atlantic right whales in commercial fishing gear. I received a BS in Environmental Science from Merrimack College, a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale University School of the Environment, and a PhD in Law and Public Policy from the Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. I am interested in this position to help bring the perspective of ecological economics practitioner — and one working in the marine environment — to help guide the organization.
I would like to nominate myself for a position as Board Member-at-Large for the US Society for Ecological Economics. I have been engaged with the USSEE/ISEE since I was a graduate student and I continue as a professor of natural resources management at Grand Valley State University. My level of engagement has fluctuated over the years. However, I find the USSEE to be a welcoming place for my academic interests. As a professor of natural resources management, I have expertise in economics, policy, and the social dimensions of environmental systems. This interdisciplinary perspective, as I’ve come to learn, is not valued in many professional societies. But the USSEE does value it. In fact, trans-disciplinarity is one of the key concepts of ecological economics. I am at a point in my career where I would like to be more involved in the society especially in a leadership role. I have participated in several USEEE conferences (in-person and virtual) and gave a brown bag webinar to the society in 2020. My publicly-available video lectures on Elinor Ostrom and commons are posted on the USSEE Teaching Resources website.
As an instructor of ECO 345 Environmental & Resource Economics, I explicitly bring an ecological economics approach to the course. I use Harris and Roach’s textbook Environmental and Natural Resource Economics which has a chapter dedicated to ecological economics. But the textbook and my lectures really embed ecological economics concepts throughout. It starts from the very first day with a discussion of how the social-economic system is embedded within Earth’s biophysical systems. My lessons on benefit-cost analysis emphasize that economic efficiency is a normative, value-based judgment that must be considered alongside, and in some cases, subordinate to, other value frameworks of the common good, rights, or justice. This course is not just for economics or natural resources management students. It is part of Grand Valley State University’s General Education program and attracts students from all majors. The GE program’s directors specifically noted that they appreciate the broader perspective that ecological economics brings to the course. I also am developing a new course about the work of Elinor Ostrom based on my book, The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom: Essential Lessons for Collective Action.
As a board member, I would like to continue to expand the USSEE educational resources. My role at GVSU is primarily in undergraduate instruction. I would like to bring that experience to the USSEE and complement the skills of the current board members. The USSEE website has a great archive of educational resources from sample syllabi and webinars to games and instructional materials. I would like to help the society broaden the reach of these materials and encourage instructors to incorporate ecological economics into new and existing courses.
I have been a professor of natural resources management at Grand Valley State University since 2006. I have taught numerous courses in the program, including NRM 451 Natural Resource Policy, ECO 345 Environmental & Resource Economics, and NRM 495 Trends in Natural Resources Management (Capstone). In 2012-13, I taught classes and conducted research at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya as a Fulbright Visiting Professor. In 2019-2020, I was a visiting scholar at the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University and I continue to engage with the Workshop as a faculty affiliate. I earned my Ph.D. and M.S. from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.