Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Call for Participation Graduate Students in Agricultural and Applied Economics



In today’s market, there are numerous job opportunities for graduate students to enter positions in which they must effectively evaluate policy and communicate with policymakers and non- specialists about how certain issues influence stakeholders in food and agriculture. Communication must be brief, yet powerful, with proper objectivity and inclusion of timely and accurate information. Through this competition, graduate students will have the opportunity to gain experience in both written and verbal policy communication.

Objectives for Participants

Evaluate a relevant policy issue

Carefully construct rhetoric, both written and oral, to provide objective information needed by decision makers

Participant Eligibility

Eligible applicants are:

  • Graduate students with a graduation date of 2020 or later engaged in agricultural economics, agribusiness, natural resources, community resource economics, or a related field
  • Participants must be active members of the AAEA and the GSS at the time of the competition
  • Attendance to the AAEA 2021 meetings is suggested but not required. The competition will be delivered in virtual format

Competition Information

The first round of the competition will require participants to submit a typed policy briefing, not to exceed two pages (double spaced, 12-point font, including references, figures, and graphics). Policy oriented issues can be based upon the graduate student’s research for a thesis, dissertation, or other academic work. This document should summarize the background and current status of the issue, key facts (i.e. benefits and costs to different groups), findings, and conclusions. The job of the participant is not to convince the policymaker to take a certain position or vote a certain way, but rather to evaluate, gather, and present the necessary information for the policymaker to make an informed decision regarding the issue.

The final round of the competition will require selected participants to deliver a verbal presentation that accompanies the policy briefing, not to exceed 10 minutes in length (Finalists should be ready to submit a pre-recorded presentation one week before the final round). Within the presentation, the participant should go into more detail about the specificity of the policy issue as well as include more key facts and findings from outside research surrounding the policy issue. Overall, the presentation and written brief should complement each other and form a well- rounded effort in policy communication.


  • April 23, 2021: Open registration for competition
  • Friday, June 11, 2021: Registration deadline and policy brief due
  • Monday, July 5, 2021: Announcement of the participants selected for the final round
  • Sunday, August 1, 2021: Finalists’ presentations (virtual), concurrent with the 2021 AAEA Annual Meeting in Austin, TX

Competition Application Information

Applications must include:

  • Cover page containing the student participant’s name, mentor's name, university,  department, address, and contact information
  • Policy brief (2-page maximum)
  • When submitting your application by email please use this subject: “AAEA GSS 2021 Policy Competition” followed by your name

Submission Deadline for applications

Applications must be submitted electronically to Samantha Bilgrien (sbilgrien@aaea.org) with copy to Carlos Fontanilla (cfontani@purdue.edu) no later than midnight (CST) on June 11, 2021


Selected finalists will be notified by July 5, 2021. They are expected to make a virtual 10-minute presentation on Sunday, August 1, 2021, to a panel of judges. Judges will also ask participants questions. The competition will begin at 8 a.m. (CST). Selection of the finalists will be based on the material submitted and criteria listed below, and those who are selected as finalists will also be evaluated based on the quality of their responses to judges’ questions.

Criteria for Selecting Finalists and Winners

Criteria for judging finalists and winners will include:

  • Defines the problem, discusses feasibility of the policy ideas and steps, addresses a proper audience, background and supporting research, and addresses government failures or unintended consequences.
  • Integration of knowledge, persuasiveness of argument, and variety of sources.
  • Formal language, appropriate tone, grammar and mechanics, and logical organization of thoughts and ideas.
  • Proper format of policy briefing (proper headings, length no more than two pages, proper citation, ordered appearance).


The top 3 competitors selected will be recognized at the AAEA Awards Ceremony. A plaque, along with a cash award will be granted to the top three finalists. Cash prizes are:

  • First place: $300
  • Second place: $200
  • Third place: $100

Contact information

Please direct any questions regarding the AAEA GSS 2021 Policy Competition to Carlos Fontanilla (cfontani@purdue.edu).

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