UA experts offer predictions for 2014


2014 predictionsIs quinoa on your shelf? Can the members of Congress ever learn to compromise? Will the Affordable Care Act be healthy or anemic in its first year? How will technology affect education? And, is the Zips football team positioned for a bowl game?

We’ve polled some of our campus experts to find the answers to these and other questions. Here are their predictions for what may lie ahead.


Prediction: Economic outlook expected to continue to improve into the New Year.

By Dr. Michael Nelson, professor and chair of the Department of Economics

Michael Nelson

The economy is ending 2013 stronger than it started and this trend will continue into 2014. Economic growth for the coming year will return to around long-run average for the U.S. economy and this will contribute to a further decline in the unemployment rate to something closer to 6 percent. Inflation will continue to remain in check, at least in the short term, until the economy is more fully recovered from the “Great Recession” of the last decade.

Several factors contribute to this positive assessment, including a housing market that continues to strengthen and the passage of the bipartisan budget deal the will bring some semblance of fiscal stability to Washington through the next election cycle. Potential headwinds for the economy include less Federal Reserve support to keep interest rates low and the weak economic outlook for some of our major trading partners, especially in Europe.


Prediction: Same as it ever was.

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

David Cohen

To quote from the Talking Heads’ 1981 song, "Once in a Lifetime," 2014 will likely shape up to be "same as it ever was."

The forecast calls for more gridlock, more partisan antagonism and more political paralysis. With deadlines fast approaching on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, expect more partisan bickering over the 2010 health care law. And while the shockingly ineffectual 113th Congress will continue to earn its record low approval ratings by accomplishing little beyond naming post offices and bridges, President Barack Obama will fail to achieve any major legislative success while turning his attention to foreign affairs.

If the political environment does not change too radically, 2014 is also an election year that will bring few surprises. Because of extreme partisan gerrymandering and it being the sixth year of a two-term presidency, Republicans should easily retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. There is also a very good chance that the GOP could capture control of the Senate. As for Ohio, if the economy continues to improve, expect Governor John Kasich to be re-elected to a second term as Republicans maintain large majorities in Columbus.

Same as it ever was…

Terry Bowden


Prediction: The Zips’ momentum will continue.

By Terry Bowden, head football coach

The football team should take up in 2014 right where we left off in 2013. We finished the season with three straight victories and wins in four of our last five games. Hopefully, that will turn a 5-7 record into 7-5 record and a bowl bid.

Education technology

Prediction: It’s becoming a BYOD world.

By I-Chun Tsai, assistant professor of education

I-Chun Tsai

According to New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report 2013, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and crowdsourcing are recognized methods for using learning technology to support school activities. Crowdsourcing is a concept borrowed from online learning communities — learners are brought together to shape their understanding of content collaboratively.

With the support of emerging technologies, such as mobile and cloud devices, students will be able to merge learning into their daily life more and more. Through the integration of BYOD and crowdsourcing, more technologies will be designed to support learning anywhere and anytime — helping learners to bring the in-class experience to a virtual level, and extending the virtual learning experience to their daily lives naturally.

Social media

Prediction: Social media in 2014 will be all about location, location, location.

By Dr. Kathleen Stansberry, assistant professor of communication

With social networking activities increasingly migrating to mobile phones, 2014 will see a much greater emphasis on location-based targeting by new-media giants like Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Kathleen Stansberry

The social media industry is already abuzz with news of features that take advantage of the location monitoring aspects of mobile media devices. In early December, Twitter unveiled a feature that makes it possible for advertisers to geo-target promoted tweets. Apple also recently launched iBeacon, which monitors shoppers as they navigate through their stores providing directions to products on shelves or information on discounts and sales as a mobile device user passes by merchandise.

I don't think we’ll see wearable, Web-enabled technology like Google Glass making it to the mainstream for at least a few years yet, but as mobile phones become the primary means that individuals use to access social networking sites, where a person is in the real world will have an ever greater effect on their virtual experience. 


Prediction: Locally sourced meat, seafood and produce will again be the top trend, along with environmental sustainability and children’s nutrition.

By Chef Mark Kent, operations manager of UA's Crystal Room Restaurant and an American Academy of Chefs Academy Fellow

Mark Kent

Today's consumers are more interested than ever in what they eat and where their food comes from. As a result, more restaurants are making an effort to detail on their menus the sources for their ingredients and how they are being prepared.

Also, we are seeing starches resurface in a big way — whether it's rice bowls made with jasmine, basmati or brown rice, buckwheat noodles, or pasta with unusual ingredients. We’ll see flatbreads, wraps and artisan breads used more frequently, and look for waffles to be used as part of savory entrees.

The "it" ingredient for 2014?

Quinoa. It is an ancient grain that can be used on its own or in salads and entrees. It is both high-protein and gluten-free — a win-win for creative chefs looking to provide trendy and healthy dishes.

Air travel

Prediction: The airlines’ "Flying Cheap Strategy," which now has us paying for seemingly everything, will continue as they search out new revenue streams.

By Dr. Andrew Thomas, associate professor of marketing and international business

A pay as you "go" fee to use the lavatory will get more attention, as the carriers seek to squeeze every nickel out of their “customers.”

Andrew Thomas

While the average American continues to expand, seats will get smaller.

Overall, service will remain at about the same level as it is for a guy serving six months on a parole violation.

Fortunately, however, we will be able to keep our small electronic devices turned on throughout the flight.

And, thanks to vocal opposition, cellular telephone calls will not be permitted.

This year will also finally see the TSA moving in the right direction. The security focus will be squarely on keeping bad people, rather than bad things, away from aircraft.

Finally, let's remember that flying is far safer than driving; fares are pretty stable; and, you can be anywhere in the world in a matter of hours.

Enjoy your flight!

Affordable Health Care Act — two views

Prediction: We will see improvements in the quality of care and reductions in its cost as a result of the push for evidence-based medical practice with the Affordable Care Act.

Katharine Van Tassel

By Katharine Van Tassel, professor of law and director of the Public Health Law & Science Center and Health Law Program

Consumers will flock to providers that offer better care at lower costs by relying on a rapidly growing number of new mobile apps for data-sharing and health care decision assistance. All major insurance companies will offer these smartphone-based tools.

Consumers are demanding transparency in all transactions. They want it in health care now and they will be tweeting about it. Thus, ACA, combined with innovative new technologies and social media, will incentivize major changes in health care quality, cost and access, starting in 2014.

Prediction: Outcomes in 2014 could move the United States closer to single-payer health insurance.

By Wilson R. Huhn, C. Blake McDowell Jr. Professor of Law

If health insurance premiums continue to rise at the rate of 1.3 percent annually as they have since 2010, the ACA will have achieved its principal purpose — making health care affordable.

Wilson R. Huhn

Without Disproportionate Share funding under Medicare, hospitals serving low-income populations will be under enormous financial pressure in the states that have not expanded Medicaid. These states will either have to expand Medicaid, raise state taxes, or let those hospitals close. Watch what Texas and Florida do. If either one of those states expands Medicaid, all the rest of the states will follow.

Would it be less expensive for the government to simply pay for all health care? OK, this won't happen during 2014, but we will begin to learn whether single-payer health care ("Medicare For All") makes sense. The first step toward a single-payer system will be if employers stop offering health insurance to their employees and instead subsidize the purchase of their health insurance on the Exchange. Employers would like to shed the responsibility of paying for health care. This would level the playing field in the global economy and improve the competitive position of American business. Once health care is disentangled from employment, the road to single-payer becomes simply a matter of what is most efficient – direct government payment to providers or the use of insurance companies as "middlemen" between patients and providers.

Research funding

Prediction:  Uncertainty about the future of federally funded research will result in more diverse research portfolios.  

By Kathryn Watkins-Wendell, assistant vice president, Office of Research Administration

Kathryn Watkins-Wendell

Research is still feeling the effects of the 2013 federal sequestration. The shutdown created a ripple throughout the research community. Labs were closed and personnel let go. In the big picture, sequestration has delayed the creation and application of new knowledge. Although President Barack Obama's 2014 budget includes a 1.3 percent increase in federal research funding, the final, approved budget will likely look very different. The picture is quite bleak.

So what do we do when faced with adversity? We diversify.

In 2014, there will be more reliance on funding which results from partnerships, particularly partnerships with industry. Institutions can no longer rely solely on the federal government to fund big research.

In the coming year, we will see industry reaching out to universities in order to supplement in-house R&D programs. We will see researchers approaching businesses to participate in university-industry programs. Federal funders, facing tight budgets, will place greater emphasis on multi-disciplinary, multi-partner projects in anticipation of getting more "bang for their buck." While funds will still be available for single researcher, basic science projects, the competition will be much steeper than in years past.