This past weekend, the Center hosted our fourth annual Scaled-Up Seminar at a hotel in downtown Asheville.

Scaled-Up Seminar gathers economics researchers from within driving distance of WCU to present current research and provide mutual feedback. The interaction is designed to provide exposure to each other’s work, spark innovative discussions about policy and community impacts,   and lead to future collaborations on research and teaching.

For almost all attendees, this was their first in-person interaction with other researchers in their field since March, 2020. Our goal as the host was to facilitate this seminar with everyone’s safety at the forefront.

Following CDC guidelines and all state and county COVID-19 mandates, this year’s seminar hosted a smaller group than a typical year, but that did not stop the flow of research and collaboration. In years past, we have invited over 30 people to attend with 10 people presenting their research, while this year we had 14 attendees with 8 of those presenting.

Attendees told us that they valued the event for being in-person, because fine-tuning research benefits so much from spontaneous back-and-forth. “The best benefit of Scaled-Up Seminar is just what happened today, the fact that you don’t feel like you’re talking to a wall or a blank computer screen,” explained presenter Bryan McCannon, economics professor at West Virginia University. “Then you have that back and forth,” he said, “which is not being replicated in other settings.”

The research topics ranged from politics to education to illicit drug use and more, but a common theme was using research to make positive impacts on policy and communities.

Attendee Angela Dills, distinguished professor at WCU, said, “I want the community to know that CSFE is doing a really good job with bringing together people at Western and people in nearby institutions while thinking about questions that are relevant to the region, our state, our community, and how we can improve lives.”

Our intention for this seminar, even during pandemic uncertainties, was to provide a space for collaborative and intentional feedback among a group of serious and dedicated scholars from our region. We thank these scholars for coming! We also look forward to seeing them publish and generate impact from the work they presented at Scaled-Up 4.0.


Testimonials from Attendees –

“There are multiple values to presenting your research. At the top of the list is getting feedback and suggestions prior to publication. What I appreciate the most about this workshop is its small size and the willingness of audience members to look at work beforehand and come with comments and suggestions. The more you can promote this culture in your workshop, the more it will stick out as a unique and valuable experience. Of course, this year, being in-person is of extra value.”

“I call it a BFC- a ‘blowhard free conference’. *Everyone* at Scaled-Up seems to follow a nice little rule –  listen for at least as much as you talk – keep things in balance. In my 30 years in academia, I’ve never been with a group of academics who have a greater nexus of important qualities – true love of economics, good listeners, insightful/super sharp, kind and fun folks. Moreover, and this is especially unique in an academic group…, I think the ultimate freedom is the freedom to be independent thinkers – even if that means coming up with conclusions that are sometimes uncomfortable or go against our original intuitions or beliefs or the group itself. This “BFC” nourishes that concept and I hope extends to influence others in the same way.”

“It was great to see what everyone was doing, this particular Scaled-Up Seminar had excellent papers. I’ll plan to submit a paper again next year because the feedback was also great. I think the smaller settings actually encouraged more constructive feedback than normal. ”

“The feedback I received at SuS has invigorated my progress on the paper I presented.  I received specific, constructive suggestions on how to improve the paper as well as informal advice on strategy for publication.  In addition, the time to socialize, particularly in these pandemic times, was welcome and renewed the joy I receive from my profession.”

“Speaking at Scaled Up is a wonderful opportunity to get constructive feedback, supportive feedback, critical feedback for what I do from scholars I greatly respect. For me personally, I hope I gain improvement of my own work from SuS and learn from other people about what they are doing, the exciting research that they are doing. It is a way to grow as a scholar and as a professor.”