Applied Economics Teaching Resources

an AAEA Journal

Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Teaching Education Commentary

We Need to Talk About Curriculum Innovation

Roger Brown(a), Jennifer Clark(b), Rachna Tewari(c)
(a)University of Kentucky,(b)University of Florida, (c)University of Tennessee, Martin

JEL Codes: JEL Codes: A20, D82, H41, Q00
Keywords: Award, curriculum, information, public good, survey

Publish Date: January 26, 2024
Volume 6, Issue 1

View Full Article (PDF)


Is it time to refresh your applied agricultural economics and agribusiness curriculum? How do you know? Where do you start? In this commentary, we review why curriculum updates are challenging and suggest that an information problem is partly to blame. Others highlight our discipline’s wide scope, our students’ diverse backgrounds, and our employers’ high expectations as inherent challenges to curricular planning. We point additionally to an economic challenge, namely that curriculum innovators do not advertise their discoveries and lessons learned at the socially optimal level. To address this public goods problem, we propose that an interested organization (e.g., the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, AAEA) centrally facilitate information sharing in two ways: (1) inventory the range of curricular diversity regularly and (2) create an annual curricular innovation award.

About the Author: Roger Brown is an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky ( Jennifer Clark is an Instructional Associate Professor at the University of Florida ( Rachna Tewari is a Professor at the University of Tennessee, Martin ( Acknowledgments: The authors thank AETR reviewers for their helpful editorial suggestions.

Copyright is governed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA


Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. 2023. “Agricultural & Applied Economics Departments.” Retrieved from

Babb, E. 1985. “Agribusiness Simulators for Management Training.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 17(2):193–198.

Bampasidou, M., K. Grogan, J. Clark, and M. Sandberg. 2016. “Career Skills: Perceptions of Importance and High Impact Learning Activities for Skill Development in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Programs. NACTA Journal   60(1):36–41.

Barkley, A.P. 1991. “What Skills Do Graduates Need?” NACTA Journal 35(1):53–57.

Blank, S.C. 1998. “A Decade of Decline and Evolution in Agricultural Economics Enrollments and Programs, 1985–1996.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 20(1):155–167.

Blank, S.C. 2001. “The Challenge to Think Big as American Agriculture Shrinks.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 26(2):309–325.

Bloom, B.S., M.D. Engelhart, E.J. Furst, W.H. Hill, and D.R. Krathwohl. 1956. The Classification of Educational Goals–Handbook 1, Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay.

Boehlje, M.D., and V.R. Eidman. 1978. “Simulation and Gaming Models: Application in Teaching and Extension Programs.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 60(5):987–992.

Boehlje, M., M. Roucan-Kane, and S. Bröring. 2011. “Future Agribusiness Challenges: Strategic Uncertainty, Innovation and Structural Change.” International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 14(5):53–82.

Boland, M.A., and J.T. Akridge. 2004. “Undergraduate Agribusiness Programs: Focus or Falter?” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 26(4):564–578.

Boland, M.A., E. Lehman, and J. Stroade. 2001. “A Comparison of Curriculum in Baccalaureate Degree Programs in Agribusiness Management.” The International Food and Agribusiness Review 4(3):225–235.

Carnevale, A.P., and N. Smith. 2013. “Workplace Basics: The Skills Employees Need and Employers Want.” Human Resource Development International 16(5):491–501.

Council of Higher Education Accreditation. 2021. “CHEA Standards and Procedures for Recognition.” Retrieved from

Crawford, P., and W. Fink. 2019. “Employability Skills and Students Critical Growth Areas.” NACTA Journal 64(2):122–131.

Dahlgran, R.A. 1986. “Using Simulation to Teach Agribusiness Management and Managerial Decision-Making Skills.” Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 1(2):143–150.

Dale, C., J.S. Robinson, and M.C. Edwards. 2017. “An Assessment of the Agricultural Literacy of Incoming Freshmen at a Land-Grant University.” NACTA Journal 61(1):7–13.

Davis, J.H., and R.A. Goldberg. 1957. Concept of Agribusiness. Boston MA: Graduate School of Business Administration, Division of Research, Harvard University.

Dobbins, C.L., M. Boehlje, S. Erickson, and R. Taylor. 1995. “Using Games to Teach Farm and Agribusiness Management.” Review of Agricultural Economics 17(3):247–255.

Dweck, C.S., G.M. Walton, and G.L. Cohen. 2014. “Academic Tenacity: Mindsets and Skills that Promote Long-Term Learning.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dyer, J.E., L.M. Breja, and R.J. Andreasen. 1999. “Attitudes of Colleges of Agriculture Freshmen Toward Agriculture.” Journal of Agricultural Education 40(2):1–10.

Finegold, D., and A.S. Notabartolo. 2010. “21st-Century Competencies and Their Impact: An Interdisciplinary Literature Review.” In D. Finegold, M. Gatta, H. Salzman, and S.J. Schurman, eds. Transforming the U.S. Workforce Development System: Lessons from Research and Practice. Champaign IL: Labor and Employment Relations Association, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pp. 19–56.

Fisher, D.K., J. Norvell, S. Sonka, and J. Nelson. 2000. “Understanding Technology Adoption Through System Dynamics Modeling: Implications for Agribusiness Management.” The International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 3(3):281–296.

Gardner, A.C., H.N. Maietta, P.D. Gardner, and N. Perkins. 2022. “Online Postsecondary Adult Learners: An Analysis of Adult Learner Characteristics and Online Course Taking Preferences.” American Journal of Distance Education 36(3):176–192.

Gillespie, J.M., and M. Bampasidou. 2018. “Designing Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Undergraduate Programs.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 50(3):319–348.

Harrow, A.J. 1972. A Taxonomy of the Psychomotor Domain: A Guide for Developing Behavioral Objectives. New York: David McKay.

Johnson, S.R., and F.K. Stage. 2018. “Academic Engagement and Student Success: Do High-Impact Practices Mean Higher Graduation Rates?” The Journal of Higher Education 89(5):753–781.

King, R.P., M. Boehlje, M.L. Cook, and S.T. Sonka. 2010. “Agribusiness Economics and Management.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 92(2):554–570.

Kolmar, M., and A. Wagener. 2012. “Contests and the Private Production of Public Goods.” Southern Economic Journal 79(1):161–179.

Krathwohl, D.R. 2002. “A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview.” Theory Into Practice 41(4):212–218.

Kuh, G.D. 2008. “Excerpt from High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter.” Association of American Colleges and Universities 14(3):28–29.

Labo, S.S., K. Jefferson-Moore, and C. Turner. 2013. “Potential Factors Contributing to Undergraduate Enrollment in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Management at Land-Grant Institutions.” NACTA Journal   57(4):51–56.

Litzenberg, K.K., and V.E. Schneider. 1987. “Competencies and Qualities of Agricultural Economics Graduates Sought by Agribusiness Employers.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 69(5):1031–1036.

MacDonald, J.M. 2020. “Tracking the Consolidation of U.S. Agriculture.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 42(3):361– 379.

MacDonald, J.M., R.A. Hoppe, and D. Newton. 2018. “Three Decades of Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture.” EIB-189. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

MacDonald, J.M., P. Korb, and R.A. Hoppe. 2013. “Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming.” ERR-152. Washington   DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

McCluskey, J.J., M.L. Loureiro, and P. Wandschneider. 2002. “Student Preferences for Agricultural Economics Degree Names.” NACTA Journal 46(4):29–33.

Mu, L., and K. Fosnacht. 2019. “Effective Advising: How Academic Advising Influences Student Learning Outcomes in Different Institutional Contexts.” The Review of Higher Education 42(4):1283–1307.

National Association of Colleges and Employers. 2023. “Job Outlook 2023.

National Center for Education Statistics. 2022a. “Undergraduate Degree Fields. Condition of Education.” Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from

National Center for Education Statistics. 2022b. “Undergraduate Enrollment. Condition of Education.” Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from

National Research Council. 2012. Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

National Research Council. 2015. A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

Nourse, E.G. 1916. “What Is Agricultural Economics?” Journal of Political Economy 24(4):363–381.

Perry, G.M. 2010. “What Is the Future of Agricultural Economics Departments and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association?” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 32(1):117–134.

Samuelson, P.A. 1954. “The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure.” Review of Economics and Statistics 36(4):387–389.

Smith, A. 1776. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 2 volumes. London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell.

Sterns, J.A., D.B. Schweikhardt, and H.C. Peterson. 1998. “Using Case Studies as an Approach for Conducting Agribusiness Research.” International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 1(3):311–327.

Stiglitz, J. 1999. “Knowledge as a Global Public Good.” In I. Kaul, I. Grunberg, and M. Stern, eds. Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 308–325.

Swan, B.G., and A.M. De Lay. 2014. “Agricultural Experiences and Factors of Undergraduates Who Enroll in a College of Agriculture.” NACTA Journal 58(4):330–334

Vetter, A., and G. Wingenbach. 2019. “Self-Perceived Employability Skills from Agricultural Study Abroad Experiences.” NACTA Journal 63(1a):164–172.

Zilvinski, J., J. Kinzie, J. Daday, K. O’Donnell, and C. Vande Zande. 2022. Delivering on the Promise of High-Impact Practices:  Research and Models for Achieving Equity, Fidelity, Impact, and Scale. Sterline VA: Stylus Publishing.