When Mitchell Family Professor of Economics Tom Tietenberg retired, in 2008, his days teaching regularly in Colby classrooms, meeting with students about projects, and serving on the Environmental Advisory Group came to an end. But his influence in classrooms is still strong—the textbook he wrote, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, remains a standard in environmental economics classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Tietenberg is a strong proponent for project-based learning and an advocate for incorporating original research experiences into the curriculum. He recognizes the value of internships for students, and opportunities in environmental studies during January and summers have proven very successful. Environmental internships are currently supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation environmental studies grant, but that grant ends in March 2009. To sustain these internships and to support project-based research by students in the Environmental Studies Program, the Thomas Tietenberg Endowed Internship Fund has been established in honor of Tom and his many contributions to Colby and to the Environmental Studies Program.
A revered professor, Tietenberg was an international pioneer in the field of emissions trading—the buying and selling of emissions credits by companies and governments—and a key member of Colby’s environmental studies faculty from 1977 to 2008, directing the Environmental Studies Program for six years. He was a charter member of the Environmental Advisory Group, a committee of faculty, students, and administrators appointed to advise the president on issues related to the environmental stewardship of the campus and the region. Since its inception in 2000 the group has had an enormous impact on College operations and the planning and execution of campus growth, and as a result Colby has won numerous environmental awards.
In spring 2008 the Department of Economics and the Environmental Studies Program set up a to honor Tom on his retirement. Alumni, students, and colleagues were invited to post messages, which were then presented to Tom following his last public lecture as an active Colby professor.
Students conduct water-quality research in the Belgrade Lakes.
Perhaps the most important lesson about economics that I learned at Colby had nothing to do with mathematical derivations or the slope of a supply curve. The most important lesson was about how to be an economist who combines rigorous technical analysis with passion for humanity and our world. You, your advising, your teaching, and your research agenda exemplify this and continue to be an inspiration for me. Thanks for being a true example of one of the "good economists." As I set forth on the path of becoming an academic economist, I aspire to incorporate even just a fraction of your dedication and vision into my work. The world would be a better place if there were more economists like you. Fortunately, because of you, it already is. Best wishes for your retirement. You will be sorely missed.
Caroline Theoharides '06
Congratulations on your retirement and successes throughout a distinguished economics career! It is thanks to two of your environmental economics classes that I chose to start my career with the UN Environment Programme. I should add (and this is likely no surprise) that your work was regularly referenced in our work around fisheries, trade, and market-based mechanisms for environmental protection. Nice to be able to respond that alongside his research, he was also a fabulous teacher!
All the best!
Colin McKee '01
It was great to see you in October when I was back at Colby for the Overseer meetings. I really enjoyed catching up. I am so pleased to have had a chance to study with you during my time at Colby. You made a huge difference in my educational experience.
I came to Colby from a mediocre, urban, public school. I had a lot of catching up to do when I arrived. The economics courses were the first at Colby to really spark me academically—intuitive, challenging, conceptual, lots of real world application, interdisciplinary. I loved being able to focus on the integration of economics, government, and public policy.
You found me my first Jan Plan internship at The New York Times magazine group. I loved it.
I also remember coming into your office with the first draft of my senior paper. You suggested adding more math and making it an honors paper. You taught me the econometrics necessary to beef it up. To this day, I assume that doing an honors thesis and being able to talk in my interview about the importance of interdisciplinary work was what got me into the Wharton MBA program.
I have three boys in junior high and high school. My hope is that I will end up with at least one kid at Colby College. Every undergraduate should have the benefit of being educated at a top liberal arts school. I only wish you were still going to be there to teach them.
Thanks for all you have done for all of us lucky enough to catch your academic enthusiasm!
Julie Sands Causey '85