Student-Faculty Research Collaborations 

"Calculating the External Costs of University Dining Decisions: A Case Study of Apples and Broccoli in a North American College,"  Patrick Fleming, Yunhong (Mabel) Li '19, Esther White '17, and Lea Senft '17. (Paper under review)

Abstract: In this article we propose a method for calculating the cost of the environmental externalities of food purchased by college campuses, and apply this method to two types of produce: apples and broccoli. We focus on two stages of the life-cycle of food—on-farm production and transportation—and the environmental costs imposed at these stages. For on-farm production, we combine national data on agricultural production externalities with information provided by vendors to estimate environmental costs by food type, region, and production method. For transportation, we use vendor-provided data to compute Weighted Average Source Distances from farm-to-campus, and combine these with prior economic studies showing the external costs of transport by ton-mile.  We find that for apples and broccoli the environmental costs from long-distance transport are substantially higher than from on-farm production. Purchasing all local apples or broccoli on our campus would reduce the total externality from these foods by 90%. These results provide insight for student leaders and campus decision-makers who seek to prioritize potential changes to consumption patterns and food-sourcing in order to minimize environmental impact. Our method for calculating the environmental costs of campus food purchases can serve as a model for other collegiate institutions.

Student participation in Professor Fleming's larger project on legacy sediment restoration:

"Economic Value of Carbon Sequestration at Big Spring Run," Jacob Goodkin '19, Summer 2018.

Abstract: Wetlands have the ability to store large amounts of carbon, which mitigates against climate change. In this paper, I estimate the economic value of the carbon stored by Big Spring Run (BSR), a restored wetland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I use previous research on the soil organic carbon (SOC) content at the site and the Interagency Working Group’s (IWG) estimates for the social cost of carbon (SCC) in order to create estimates for the value of carbon storage offered by Big Spring Run. Using a 3% discount rate, I find that Big Spring Run offers approximately $607 in carbon sequestration services every year; more so than if the land had been left in its unrestored pasture form. Using worst-case scenario climate forecasts, this value increases to $1760 annually. While BSR is a relatively small wetland, carbon storage from the numerous legacy sediment sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed could offer a substantial offset to increasing carbon emissions, along with the other ecosystem services provided by wetlands.

"Non Market Valuation of Water Quality Improvements from Legacy Sediment Restoration at Big Spring Run," Fangzhou (Vicky) Wei '20, Summer 2018. 

Abstract: Wetlands are known to have many important functions, including water quality improvement, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, flood control, and other ecosystem services, all of which improve human quality of life. Economists have attempted to value these services using non-market valuation techniques in order to help governments and other authorities in policy decision-making.  In this paper, I review literature related to the economic benefits of two functions--water quality improvement and flood control--then apply this literature to the nitrogen reduction provided by Big Spring Run (BSR), a restored wetland in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The total nitrogen reduction from the BSR restoration is about 418 pounds per acre annually.  Using a conservative measure of the costs of alternative forms of nitrogen filtration, I find an economic value of $2,424 per acre annually for water quality improvements after restoration, or $80,800 per acre in perpetuity.  Quantifying the economic benefit of wetlands is necessary to inform policy-makers about values that are typically ignored but nonetheless improve human life.

Research in Progress: 

"Stated preferences for stormwater management among Lancaster households," Sally Rodenberger '18. 
"Social Norms and Agricultural Conservation Among Amish and non-Amish Farmers," Michael Morette '19. 

 

"The Power of Movement: Body-Engaging Activities for Teaching Economics," Leanne Roncolato and Cairynne Koh '16 Journal of Effective Teaching, 17(2): 58-71 2017. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1157454.

Abstract: Existing research points to the critical connection between student engagement and deep learning. This paper explores body engagement as one type of student centered learning. While other disciplines are making progress in developing body-engaging pedagogical methods as a complement to traditional lectures, the use of such innovations in undergraduate level economics courses have been limited. We contribute to the literature by explaining both why we should and how we can incorporate body movement as a part of the tool kit for teaching economics. We offer specific examples of body-engaging activities and review students' evaluation of this pedagogical approach. We acknowledge challenges and limitations of incorporating these activities into a classroom and offer strategies to overcome these challenges.

"Underground Employment: Analyzing the Job Quality of New York City Subway Dancers," Leanne Roncolato with Cairynne Koh, paper presented at the Western Social Science Association meetings in April 2018 and at the International Association of Feminist Economics in June 2018; currently under review for publication.

Abstract: This paper is the first to analyze the New York City subway phenomenon known as “show time” as a form of informal employment. Using an individuals-in-relation framework, drawing on Marxist and feminist economic perspectives, we investigate the job quality of New York City subway dancers. Our data comes from 34 in-depth interviews conducted in the summer of 2016. We contextualize earnings, hours and conditions of work by considering the social relations and power dynamics in which they are embedded. Beyond the pecuniary motivations, many interviewees discussed subway dancing as a way to escape contexts of violence and negativity. While dancers articulated advantages of this work, such as setting one’s own schedule and getting quick money, they also articulated disadvantages, most notably the risk of being arrested. Constructions of identity surrounding subway dancing varied across the sample, but overall dancers understood their work as positively contributing to New York City. 

*Cairynne Koh and I began working together thinking about the intersections between dance and economics as part of a Directed Reading course. I then hired her as a summer research assistant and we wrote a paper together on body movement as a pedagogical tool in economics classrooms.