Joel Watson is a Professor in the Economics Department at the University of California, San Diego. His research examines how contractual relationships are formed and managed, as well as the role of institutions in facilitating contracts and enforcement, using game-theoretic models. Watson’s work addresses topics in a variety of applied areas, including law and economics, macroeconomics, labor economics, international economics, and environmental economics. He has authored numerous technical papers and a popular textbook on game theory (Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory). Watson obtained his B.A. from UCSD and his Ph.D. from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He spent two years at Oxford’s Nuffield College before returning to UCSD as a faculty member. Watson has also had several visiting appointments at Yale University over the years and was Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 2012-2013. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society.
Watson has extensive experience and a record of leadership in administration, instruction, and professional service. As Chairperson of the Economics Department at the University of California, San Diego from 2006 until 2008, he managed about 70 faculty, staff, and lecturers, and he oversaw some of UCSD's most popular undergraduate major programs. Watson has served as the chair of UCSD's Campus and Community Planning Committee, which advises on campus physical planning including project site selection and design. Watson has been instrumental in furthering interdisciplinary research and instruction, in particular in the collaboration between UCSD's Economics Department and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He has been part of the leadership team at the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and was co-director of the Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research. Watson is also a pedagogical innovator, in particular with respect to video presentations and hybrid class formats. He devised, managed the development of, and contributed many lectures to the Intermediate Microeconomics Video Handbook; he manages the development of the Econometrics Video Handbook, and is also developing the Game Theory Video Handbook. Watson received the UC San Diego Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2019 and was given the Economics Department’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction in 2010 and again in 2019.
On the professional side, Watson co-founded and serves as the CEO of Econ Job Market®, a non-profit charitable (501c3) corporation that provides a central electronic repository for advertisements and application materials (including application forms, candidate-provided documents, and letters of recommendation) in the economics Ph.D. job market. He also has served in an editorial capacity for four technical journals.