Predictions for 2011 from UA experts


We asked some of our campus experts to make predictions for their field of study for the coming year. Here's what they said.

orange-triangle Prediction: As candidates and parties begin gearing up for the 2012 presidential election, gridlock and partisanship will rule the day in Washington, while Sarah will rule the airwaves.

David B. Cohen

By Dr. David B. Cohen, associate professor of political science and Fellow, Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics

As Republicans take control over the U.S. House of Representatives, ushering in yet another period of divided government, the country is facing enormous challenges including a still-sluggish economy, a war in Afghanistan, and national security threats across the globe. The grand hope is that President Obama and both parties in Congress can come together to tackle the great issues of the day. In fact, according to a recent Marist-McClatchy poll, 72 percent of Americans think Republicans and Democrats should compromise “to get things done.”

Unfortunately, as Republican candidates start gearing up to challenge President Obama and as each party goes back into campaign mode as 2012 rapidly approaches, little of consequence will likely get done. And one thing is a near certainty (if there is such a thing): with a book recently published, Facebook followers topping 2 million, reality shows galore and a likely presidential run, 2011 will be the “Year of Sarah”…Palin that is.

orange-triangle Prediction: The 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks will remind us once again of the importance of securing the world's skies and airports.

Andrew R. Thomas

By Dr. Andrew R. Thomas, assistant professor of international business and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Security

The global air transport system remains the frontline of the battle against international terrorism. For the terrorists, they realize attacks against aviation provide the “biggest bang for the buck”. The stakes have never been higher.

Concerns about passenger privacy and new security measures such as the “naked x-ray machines” and thorough pat-downs will shape much of the debate about the future of aviation security practice in the U.S. Meanwhile, as al-qaeda continues to innovate new ways of destroying aircraft, the body-cavity bomb will emerge as the latest threat.

Still, air travel is the safest form of transport ever devised. Be sure to buckle your seatbelt driving to and from the airport. That is much more dangerous than flying!

orange-triangle Prediction: Biomaterials will explode in the next decade.

Judit E. Puskas

By Dr. Judit E. Puskas, professor of polymer science and integrated bioscience

However, with the emergence of hundreds of new materials, we need to develop new guidelines on how to test their efficacy and safety so the screening process will result in important feedback for improving material performance. We also have to face more limited resources for research, so we need to optimize our efforts. I hope 2011 will bring academics and medical device manufacturers closer, so they can coordinate biomaterial development efforts.

We also need to preserve our ability to carry out fundamental research yielding new biomaterials — for which we have no application in sight — to ensure future successes. I hope 2011 brings a better balance of basic and applied research in the area of biomaterials. I also predict new medical devices based on polyisobutylene – leading expertise in this field resides at The University of Akron.

orange-triangle Prediction: Comfort foods from around the region and world cuisines will be the trend.

Richard Alford

By Chef Richard Alford, associate professor emeritus of hospitality management

With the global economy and the ease of travel, people get to explore new foods and flavors — this puts a demand on our industry to keep up with what people want to have when they return home. Obtaining foods from different places is much easier with the global transportation systems, so the seasonality and availability of foods has changed. Until recently, watermelons and sweet corn were only available at certain times of the year. Now we can offer them almost year around.

orange-triangle Prediction: The field of psychology will become more diverse in treatment practices.

John Queener

By Dr. John Queener, professor of education in the Department of Counseling

Psychology is going to become more interdisciplinary as psychologists collaborate more with other social scientists in the areas of research and practice. Moreover, psychology is going to become more diverse as it incorporates more nontraditional and holistic remedies to mental health problems. Finally, I predict that psychologists who are interested will be allowed to prescribe medication.

orange-triangle Prediction: The American economy in 2011 should be better if tax rates are held steady and spending is checked.

By Dr. Fred Carr, director of The H. Kenneth Barker Center for Economic Education, and professor of education

Fred Carr

If tax rates are not raised and federal spending is at a minimum frozen (something that is not historically accomplished) the economy should strengthen. The important aspect lacking in 2010 was consistency in government fiscal and tax policies. Business employment planning and therefore family incomes were subjected to uncertainty, which has lead to high unemployment levels and household economic frustration. If the Congress of the United States will subject itself to fiscal discipline, the stock market and individual retirement portfolios should see a substantial increase in value.

Employment levels will not recover substantially over 2011. The federal government needs to control its regulatory intervention in the marketplace and start to reduce the national deficit. If the government cannot accomplish regulation and deficit reduction, and the price of oil raises above $100 a barrel, we could experience what befell the Carter administration in the late 1970s, which was high unemployment and high inflation. It was an economic condition that was termed “Stagflation.” If this occurs, expect an increasing level of consumer discontent and societal dissatisfaction.