Thursday, April 15, 2021

Tentative NYU Tax Policy Colloquium Plans for Fall 2021

I have been making plans for the fall 2021 NYU Tax Policy Colloquium, against the backdrop of continued pandemic-related uncertainty. Also, my co-convenor for the last three years, Lily Batchelder, may be moving up to better things for the next couple of years. I also have concluded that inviting another co-convenor is more than a bit tricky, given that said person would need to agree to be in NYC for live teaching if things do indeed proceed sufficiently well, pandemic-wise.

Speakers, by contrast, can be (and have been) invited on the basis that they will be able to participate via Zoom even if we are otherwise meeting live. An institutional commitment by NYU to live appearances by those who are teaching a given class (again, assuming that the pandemic sufficiently ends) apparently would not apply to guest speakers. And "hybrid" technologies for live plus Zoom have been in development for the last year.

However, while speakers can participate by Zoom, I simply don't know at this stage whether, in the event that we aren't all-Zoom due to the persistence of the pandemic, we would be able to accommodate Zoom attendees in the audience. In last fall's sessions, much though I missed having live sessions, I was delighted by our ability to draw participants who were many time zones away from us, and who could not have come in person, even absent the pandemic.

So there are a lot of open questions still. But I have decided that, if I'm going to be teaching the colloquium solo, I need to cut it back a bit. A fresh paper every week, with two hours meeting with the students plus a two-hour public session, is simply too grueling - far more effort, for example, than teaching a four-hour lecture class. So I will be cutting it back to one paper and one meeting a week, generally with each paper having a class meeting one week and a public session the next.

As the 2021 fall semester will be 13 rather than the usual 14 weeks, I decided  to schedule 7 public sessions, vs. 6 private ones. But of course we need to start in week 1 with a class session, so that we can start getting to know each other. Thus, the public sessions will be held in weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 13.

Another thing I don't know yet is when the sessions will take place. I am hoping that the public sessions will be at 4 pm EST or thereabouts. But they were earlier in the afternoon last fall, reflecting both our Zoom-adjusted schedule and the aim of allowing people to attend from European time zones. In any event, I'm pretty sure that all of the sessions will be held on Tuesdays.

Will we have our traditional small-group dinners after live public sessions? I am hoping so, but it is obviously too early to tell.

I have now scheduled all our speakers. Again, I am hoping that all will appear live and in person. But any of them may and will use Zoom instead if needed. Our public sessions will be as follows:

September 14 - Jake Brooks and David Gamage

September 28 - Daniel Hemel

October 12  Jennifer Blouin

October 26 - Manoj Viswanathan

November 9 - Ruth Mason and Michael Knoll

November 23 - Mindy Herzfeld

November 30 - Alan Auerbach

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