Second week of fall semester! Fun crazy times. I’ve met the Sustainable Entrepreneurship living-learning community students, who are designing and setting up an on-campus store this semester. (They also have their own sweet recreational lounge with a Wii and a big flat screen TV with more “entrepreneurial toys” to come.) The 40 students in MKT 426 seem sharp and eager to jump into their Export Odyssey projects. And we are wrapping up the decisions on how to cut 30% of our collection budget. I’m resisting the urge to elaborate on that topic right now.
Tuesday evening Lynda Kellam, my Data Services Librarian colleague, and I led a fun 90-minute research workshop for GEO 533, Regional Economic Development. This semester the class is focusing on “from field to fork” — supply chains for food. The professor asked us to teach how to trace the supply chains and then locate data on material inputs, production and employment levels, the number of establishments by geography, the names of the establishments, mapping options, and state-level trade data. Not too much for 90 minutes, right?? This geography professor has been great to work with, and I always enjoy working with classes outside the business school and the interdisciplinary entrepreneurship program. But we struggled (as we knew would happen) with how to teach all that in an hour and a half. Not surprisingly we decided not to cover all those topics in class.
Lynda and I chose cookie manufacturing as our example industry and had the students work together to map the buying/input industries and the selling/output industries on the white board. For the inputs, they came up with sugar, flour, and butter/dairy, and then raisins/grapes, chocolate, etc. But when looking at the “Materials Consumed by Kind by Industry” data in the Economic Census, we learned that the biggest single material by delivered cost for cookie manufacturing is…paperboard containers & boxes. Tasty! At least for ice cream production, which the students tried on their own, paperboard is #2 behind cream.
This workshop was the first time I ever had to use the Agricultural Census and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Neither site uses NAICS codes — just the names of types of crops and livestock. Convenient maps, too (see if you can find crops or animals in which California doesn’t lead the country in production!) So now I understand why the Economic Census, County Business Patterns, etc. begin coverage with NAICS 113, Forestry and Logging, instead of 111, Crop Production.
There were only 18 students, probably the smallest class I’ll have all semester. (In a few weeks I’ll be guest teaching for two sections of ECO 202, Principles of Macroeconomics, for two class periods. The afternoon section has 149 students, a personal best for me. Prayers welcome!) The geo students were engaged and studious and didn’t seem to have much problem with the business and economics jargon Lynda and I introduced. That’s probably to be expected given the interdisciplinary nature of geography. Hopefully at least a few will stop by for a research consultation later in the semester and we’ll see how they are doing with their food chain projects.