James Shortle, Ph.D.

  • Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics
  • Director, College of Agricultural Sciences Environment and Natural Resources Institute
  • Director, Center for Nutrient Pollution Solutions
James Shortle, Ph.D.
111D Ferguson Building
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-865-8270


  1. Ph.D., Economics, Iowa State University, 1981


Research Interests

Most of my research addresses the economics of managing complex environmental externalities.  I am especially interested in water pollution and other environmental externalities associated with agricultural production and land use.  A geographic focal point of this work is the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Other areas of interest and research activity include climate change impacts on agriculture and water resources, and integrated assessment models.  Major sponsors of my research include the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Initiative for Food and Agriculture, and Office of the Chief Economist, the US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. 

As the Director of the Center for Nutrient Pollution Solutions, I lead an interdisciplinary research team developing sustainable cost-effective solutions to nutrient pollution problems.  The Center is one of four established by the US EPA-STAR program for Innovative and Sustainable Research Incorporating a Systems View of Nutrient Management.  Key collaborators are the USDA ARS Pasture and Watershed Management Research Unit, and Penn State's Agriculture and Environment Center, Center for Environmental Informatics, and RIPARIA 

Current/Recent Courses

  • AEREC 519, Environmental and Resources Economics I

Recent Selected Publications

Nguyen, N., J. Shortle, R. Reed, and T. Nguyen.  In press.  Water quality trading with asymmetric information, uncertainy, and transactions cots: A stochastic agent-based simulation.  Resource and Energy Economics.  Available online September 24, 2012. 

Shortle, J. 2012.  Water Quality Trading in Agriculture.  Report to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Directorate for Trade and Agriculture.  OECD Publishing.

Shortle, J., M. Ribaudo, R. Horan, and D. Blandford, 2012. Reforming Agricultural Nonpoint Pollution Policy in an Increasingly Budget-Constrained Environment. Environmental Science and Technology.  46 (3), pp 1316–1325.

Ghosh, G., J. Shortle, M. Ribaudo, 2011.  Baseline Requirements Can Hinder Trades in Water Quality Trading Programs: Evidence from the Conestoga watershed.  Journal of Environmental Management.  92: 2076- 2084.

Horan, R. D., and J.S. Shortle. 2011. Economic and Ecological Rules for Water Quality Trading. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 47(1):59-69.

Ribaudo, M. J. Shortle, D. Blandford, and R. Horan.  2011. Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Agri-environmental Policies for the Chesapeake Bay.  Choices.  3rd Quarter. 26(3)

Lichtenberg, E., J. Shortle, J. Wilen, and D. Zilberman. 2010. Natural Resource Economics and Conservation: Contributions of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Economists, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 92(2), 469-486.

Shortle, J.S. and R.D. Horan.  2008.  The Economics of Water Quality Trading.  International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics.  2(2):101-133.

Ranjan, R., E. Marshall, and J. Shortle.  2008.  Optimal Renewable Resource Management in the Presence of Endogenous Risk of Invasion.  Journal of Environmental Management.  89(4):273-83.

Ranjan, R., and J.S. Shortle.  2007.  The Environmental Kuznets Curve When the Environment Exhibits Hysteresis.  Ecological Economics.  64(15): 204-215.

Horan, R.D., and J.S. Shortle. 2005. When Two Wrongs Make a Right: Second Best Point Nonpoint Trading. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 87(2):340-352.

Professional Awards and Recognitions

Fulbright Scholar (1990-1991)

“Best Article” published in the Journal of Agricultural Economics (1994)

University Distinguished Professor, Penn State University (2003)

“Outstanding Article” published in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Review (2004, 2016)

Distinguished Alumnus, Department of Economics, University of New Mexico (2005)

Distinguished Service Award, NE Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (2007)

Economic and Social Research Council and the Social Science Research Council (UK) Transatlantic Fellow (2008)     

Northeast Agricultural Economics Association, Director (1994-1997), President Elect (2002-2003), President (2003-2004), Past President (2004-2005)

Boggess Award for the "Most Outstanding Article" published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (2012)