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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Jason Grant


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Jason Grant, assistant professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics, for Dr. Grant’s foremost goals as a teacher are to inspire curiosity, instill self-confidence in students by creating an active learning environment, and to show students that economics is a powerful and interesting way of understanding the global economy.

In the classroom, Dr. Grant does not pass over technical aspects and economic terminology. Often times the devil is in the details and this is no more apparent than in Dr. Grant’s AAEC 3514 class on Agricultural Futures and Options. Devoting a small amount of time to things such as notation and terminology greatly simplifies what can be a barrage of unfamiliar economic jargon in the world of futures and options. The bulk of Dr. Grant’s time in the classroom is spent emphasizing economic methods and problem-solving tools in a team-based atmosphere. For example, in AAEC 3514, Dr. Grant requires student teams to complete a case-study project called “The Professor and Broker” where students submit buy or sell trades to a hypothetical broker (the professor) and then track the performance of these trades and evaluate their effectiveness as a way for producers in Virginia to hedge against commodity price risk. Students have really valued the hands-on nature of this class because it bridges the gap between the “pencil and paper” theory discussed in lecture and the application of these methods in the real world. In the Spring of 2011, a former student (Brad Dorris, April 2011, International Studies Major) commented on the class by stating ” "This is by far the most beneficial class I have ever taken in my college career in terms of finding a career path and teaching students hands-on training for the real world. I am so glad I was able to take it!" Will Perlik, (AAEC Major, April 2011) reiterated this by saying “"Learning new terminology and tough concepts from an instructor who genuinely cares for his students and has a dynamic teaching style made this class very enjoyable. Thanks for a great semester"

Dr. Grant has been instrumental in the reform of the AAEC undergraduate curriculum. He recently proposed and implemented a new course titled “Global and Monetary Issues in Applied Economics” that teaches students about the complex relationship between international macroeconomics and agricultural and commodity markets. While students often cringe at the topic of macroeconomics, Dr. Grant finds structuring the class as an “event study” coupled with analytical methods to study these events actually turns macroeconomics from a dull and boring class into one that is highly relevant in today’s world. For example, several watershed events -- the 1973-74 World Food Crisis, the 1981-1982 Debt Crisis, the Russian Grain Embargo, the 1986 G7 Exchange Rate Accord, the 2008 Financial Crisis and the 2008 and 2010 Global Food Crises – coincided with major shifts in macroeconomic and agricultural policies. Agricultural economists are now arguing more persuasively that monetary policy and exchange rates are more fundamental than farm policy in determining farm incomes and rural livelihoods. Dr. Grant’s core objective in developing this course is to expose students to the nature and importance of international monetary events and the linkages with agricultural commodity markets and policy.

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