From Guyana to California and Back – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

From Guyana to California and Back

Jo Beth Mertens, associate professor of economics, spent two and a half weeks in Georgetown, Guyana this May, participating in a comprehensive review of the tax regime as part of the Guyana Threshold Country Plan Implementation project. Guyana is working to qualify for a Millennium Challenge grant from the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. Along with two people from the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, Mertens produced an 80 page report that contains an in-depth analysis of the current tax system and recommendations for changes.

After returning from Guyana, she participated in “A Curriculum for Spatial Thinking” a symposium at the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif. Mertens was one of 10 academics from across the country, including from Harvard University, UC Santa Barbara, Georgia State University and the School for Advanced Research, among others, who met to discuss creating a general, non-technical course on spatial thinking, or spatial intelligence. Diana Sinton, of the University of Redlands, organized the symposium to correlate with a first-year seminar she is teaching this fall.  “We worked on explaining why we should be concerned about spatial intelligence or spatial literacy, and thought about what such a course might be comprised of,” explains Mertens. “We left with a draft white paper and plans for development of a Web site and tentative plans for an invited conference next year to bring together a larger group of people to discuss the issue.”

Mertens has taught economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges since 1997. She taught in Vietnam as a part of the Fulbright Economic Teaching Program in the fall of 2003. In December 2005, she was named New York State Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, a master’s degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Emory University.

Mertens has served as consultant to several countries, including Guyana and Kosovo. She has served the U.S. Treasury as senior tax adviser to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has worked on similar projects in Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine and Nigeria. She is the author of several publications and professional papers.