Economics professor Arik Levinson is taking a break from the classroom this academic year to assume a temporary post on the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers researching environmental economics.

William Jack, an associate professor of economics, will act as the director of undergraduate studies position during Levinson’s sabbatical.

“This is a great position, and [it] reflects the high quality of his policy-relevant research in the field of environmental economics and the high regard in which his scholarship is held in the profession,” Jack said in an email.

Levinson’s students at Georgetown said that he was particularly skilled at boiling down complex economic theory when they had difficulty with the subject.

“He was always able to break things down visually and into simpler concepts,” Todd Liipfert

(COL ’12), who took his Principles of Microeconomics class last year, said. “I thought he was really good at making the knowledge accessible to people who really weren’t that economically inclined.”

The council took notice of Levinson for his scholarship and policy work. Levinson has published 28 journal articles, 17 chapters in books and three working papers, most of them about environmental policy. He is also co-editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and is on the economics advisory panel of the National Science Foundation, among other posts.

The Council of Economic Advisers is an executive agency that gives the president guidance on domestic and international economic policy. Levinson is one of the council’s eight senior economists, most of whom are also university professors.

According to Marcia Suss, administrative officer of the department of economics, the appointment will not be permanent.

While no other Georgetown economics professors have been appointed to the council recently, a number of professors from other departments have received appointments to posts in other agencies. According to Jack, other economics professors have been selected for senior jobs in the Department of the Treasury as well as other agencies.

University spokeswoman Julie Bataille also pointed to professors including Madeleine Albright, Victor Cha, Don McHenry and Viet Dinh who have held White House positions, mostly in the foreign affairs sector.

“Georgetown has a long record of faculty members who take a leave to perform public service and then return to the university upon completion of this work,” Bataille said in an email. “One of the benefits of Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C., and faculty expertise across a range of policy areas is [students’] ability to take advantage of these opportunities to enrich one’s experiences in and out of the classroom.”

Levinson served as an associate professor at Georgetown from 2000 to 2009, and was promoted to full professor last year. He had previously taught at the University of Wisconsin. At Georgetown, Levinson taught Principles of Microeconomics, Environmental Economics, a tutorial for seniors writing theses in economics and a graduate class in public finance.

Levinson declined to comment due to a White House Council of Economic Advisers policy.

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