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American University Experts Look Back … And Ahead


The unending COVID-19 pandemic; the total withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, social justice protests across the U.S.; record numbers of migrants surging across the U.S.-Mexican border; an urgent environmental conference in Glasgow; the inauguration of the 46th President … These and many other events have made 2021, a year that will live in history…  As these 12 tumultuous months conclude, American University experts analyze the lasting effects of 2021’s headlines and make forecasts for 2022.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021 - ongoing


Skype, Zoom, and phone  


American University expert who are available for interviews include experts below.

U.S. Politics

David Barker is the Director of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at the School of Public Affairs. He is a nationally recognized expert on campaigns and elections, public opinion, political information and misinformation, political polarization and political representation. His latest book, One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy, was published in 2019.

Capri Cafaro is an executive-in-residence American University’s School of Public Affairs. She is a former Democratic leader of the Ohio State Senate. During her ten years in the Ohio State Senate, Cafaro advocated for economic growth and development, and access to health care. As a state Senator, Cafaro received numerous awards. She frequently offers her insights into a wide range of topics on Fox News, NPR, CBS, AFP, AP, USA Today, and other media outlets.

Capri Cafaro said:Congressional midterms and gubernatorial elections will take center stage in 2022. This election cycle, like many midterms before, will be a referendum for or against the sitting president's agenda. President Biden's policy priorities, handling of COVID, government spending, inflation and the overall state of the economy will come under scrutiny. SCOTUS rulings, especially related to Roe, could have a direct impact on the direction of the midterms as well. Expect former President Trump to increase his political involvement and public presence in the upcoming year. Internationally, watch for developments on the Russian-Ukraine border and how the international community reacts, as well as the contentious US-China relationship on everything from trade and climate to Taiwan.” 

W. Joseph Campbell is a professor in the School of Communication's Communication Studies program, he is an expert in election polling, its history, and the challenges and failures of polls. Campbell is the author of seven books, including most recently Lost in a Gallup: Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections.

Prof. Campbell said: "Election polling in 2021 showed further troubling signs of problems that arose dramatically in the 2020, leading then to the most dramatic discrepancy between polls and outcome in a presidential race in 40 years. The off-year governor's race in New Jersey in 2021 notably was marred by sharp polling discrepancies that prompted one of the state's leading survey-takers to offer a remarkably candid apology, declaring, “I blew it. Problems facing election polling include non-response bias, which is proving difficult to resolve, and offers worries for projecting the mid-term elections in 2022."

Amy Dacey is Executive Director of the Sine Institute of Policy & Policy at American University. For more than two decades, she managed prominent national organizations, advised leading elected officials and candidates, including President Barack Obama and Senator John Kerry, and counseled a variety of nonprofits and companies. During the 2016 presidential election, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Committee. During the 2004 elections, she worked for then-Senator John Kerry on his presidential campaign and, following his narrow loss, helped to lead Kerry’s political operation. She also managed Rep. Louise Slaughter’s congressional campaign in 1998.

Amy Dacey said: "Elections have consequences -- and that was made clear in 2021 when three new conservative judges nominated by President Donald Trump began to make their presence felt. In particular, a 6-3 majority that includes right-leaning Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett now has the power to reverse some of the most significant constitutional decisions of the last 100 years, including rulings on gun ownership, abortion, and voting rights, and the newest conservatives outnumber the comparatively centrist Chief Justice John Roberts." 

Impact of COVID-19

Nina Yamanis is an associate professor in the School of International Service. Her research focuses on health disparities and community-based interventions to improve health among vulnerable groups, and the role of social networks in HIV transmission. Prof. Yamanis is available to comment on issues related to U.S. Latinx immigrants and access to health care, community responses to Ebola and HIV, and how to reach under-served and vulnerable populations with public health interventions. 

Nina Yamanis said: “The COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate headlines during 2021. The pandemic laid bare huge inequities, this time in vaccination rates. Public health continued to be politicized around the world, with denialist presidents in Brazil and Tanzania, protests around mask and vaccine mandates, and the rollback of public health protective laws in some US states. As we move into the holiday season and with the emergence of a new variant, one wonders when we will learn that global cooperation and solidarity, including the suspension of intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines, will ultimately make us all safer.”

Maria DeJesus is an associate professor in the School of International Service. She is an expert in health inequalities, with a particular focus on cross-cultural communication and health promotion. While serving as a Yerby post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for Community-based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, she served as coinvestigator on several NIH-funded cancer disparities research studies examining how ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and migration status interact to affect health outcomes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated health inequities among migrants in the U.S. and globally, including increased food and financial insecurity and disruptions of formal social networks and routines. Their precarious living conditions also made it extremely difficult to follow the public health measures that would keep them safe. Understanding these inequities can help us address their causes and develop response plans and policies that ensure equitable access to care, including COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and new therapeutics."

Environment, Agrarian Policies

Paul Bledsoe is an adjunct professorial lecturer at the Center on Environmental Policy at American University's School of Public Affairs at. He was director of communications of the White House Climate Change Task Force under President Clinton from 1998-2001, communications director of the Senate Finance Committee under Chairman Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and special assistant to former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Bledsoe is attending the Glasgow Summit.

Paul Bledsoe said: "In the aftermath of the Glasgow climate negotiations, focus must turn from promises to real actions to cut emissions and prevent climate catastrophe. In the U.S., this means passing legislation which includes $550 billion in clean energy and climate investments. Globally, tremendous pressure will grow on dictatorships like China and Russia to take more serious climate actions or risk a new Climate Change Cold War. Most of all, global efforts to cut methane and other super climate pollutants must gain new momentum as the fastest way to limit near-term temperatures and prevent climate destabilization."

Todd Eisenstadt, professor and Research Director at the Center for Environmental Policy at American University’s School of Public Affairs, is an expert on climate change policy. He recently co-authored Climate Change, Science, and the Politics of Shared Sacrifice and has written extensively on climate finance and adaptation in the developing world. He is presently studying the correlates of ambition levels of national climate policies and the trade-offs nations make between climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Prof. Eisenstadt said: “The United Nations climate change meeting built on momentum from the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to COVID’s slowing of the world economy in 2020. Most importantly, for the first time ever, diplomats and politicians acknowledged publicly that fossil fuel subsidies were a big part of the problem and that the worst part of the problem is the continued burning of coal. We need to build further and quickly on these modest accomplishments in 2022 by putting these acknowledgements into policies and implementing them at the international level and in governments around the world.”

Garrett Graddy-Lovelace is associate professor in the School of International Service and an expert on global environmental and agricultural policy, studying domestic and global impacts of US farm policies. She is a Faculty Affiliate at American University's Antiracist Research & Policy Center and Associate Director for the new Center for Environment, Community & Equity. Prof. Graddy-Lovelace co-founded and co-leads the new, nation-wide Agroecology Research-Action Collective. 

Prof. Garrett Graddy-Lovelace said: “Tens of millions of Indian farmers took to the streets and have occupied Delhi for over a year in a struggle for agrarian viability and to stave off corporate capture of agri-food markets. This was already a world-historical mobilization, but when Modi suddenly repealed the farm laws last month, it became a watershed moment in international agrarian politics—and potentially a tipping point in agricultural policy at large.”

Foreign Policy, Refugees

Tazreena Sajjad is a senior professorial lecturer at the School of International Service (SIS). She is an expert on refugees and forced displacement, post-conflict governance, transitional justice, and the role of gender in conflict and peacebuilding. Her current research projects include examining the role of fortifications against irregular migrant flows, and refugee reception in the Global South. She currently serves as an advisor to Refugee Solidarity Network (RSN) and is a faculty affiliate of The Transatlantic Policy Center and The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at AU. Prof. Sajjad has served in the National Democratic Institute's South Asia program in the Global Rights Afghanistan program and as a research consultant for the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU).

Prof. Sajjad said: “Much ink is being spilt in analyzing the achievements made during the 20 years of U.S. occupation in Afghanistan and the “failures” of the state-building enterprise following the US withdrawal from the country. But Afghanistan should not be discussed in terms of the “failures” and “successes” of occupying powers. The new government seeks “order and stability,” while targeting civilians and ethnic minorities in a tense political landscape where food insecurity looms amidst a deadly global pandemic. The focus should be on the millions of Afghans who have been, and continue to be, internally displaced as a result of complex realities of food and climate crises, US air strikes, drone attacks, suicide bombings, and targeted killings during the 20-year occupation, and in the aftermath of the US withdrawal.”

Prof. Jordan Tama specializes in U.S. foreign and national security policy, foreign policy bipartisanship, presidential-congressional relations, national security strategic planning, the politics of economic sanctions, the foreign policy views of U.S. elites, and the value of independent commissions. He is currently working on a book “Bipartisanship in a Polarized Age: When Democrats and Republicans Cooperate on U.S. Foreign Policy.” Jordan is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. 

Guy Ziv is an expert in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, U.S.-Israel relations, and Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. He is the author of Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel. His opinion articles have appeared in leading American and Israeli newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun,, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and USA Today. He frequently appears as a commentator in major media outlets, such as Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, CTV, i24 News, and Sky News.

Guy Ziv said: “The ouster of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister after 12 years in power was one of the most dramatic political developments in recent Israeli history. The new government is a fragile coalition of disparate political parties spanning the political spectrum. Divisive issues like Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians will be sidelined for the foreseeable future, but the longer this government survives, the lower the likelihood that Netanyahu will succeed in staging a political comeback. His departure from the political arena would, in turn, have important implications for major issues, such as the status of the occupied territories, US-Israel relations, and Israeli democracy.”

Media & Technology

Jason Mollica is a professorial lecturer and program director for the online master’s degree in strategic communication, in the School of Communication. He is a seasoned strategic communication professional with over 20 years of experience as a journalist, news producer and public relations professional. Jason started his career as a journalist working for WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. He is an Emmy-nominated television producer and was an integral part of the team that launched Fox News Radio in 2003. He is available to comment on social and digital media landscape and regulations. He can also discuss political communication and messaging, the news industry, and how the pandemic will affect sports leagues moving into 2022.

Prof. Mollica said: “If Americans thought 2021 would bring a new sense of calm and stability, it was shattered quickly due to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Our country continued to witness divisiveness, not just in Washington. Arguments over mask and vaccine mandates around COVID-19 and its variants, voting restrictions in Georgia, and the chaotic exit from Afghanistan were just some of the events that come to mind. In 2022, it’s important to keep an eye on midterm elections in battleground states and how it could re-shape President Biden’s agenda. How will social media continue to shape how we view information or the lack of facts when it comes to sharing.”

Aram Sinnreich is a professor and chair of the Communication Studies division at the School of Communication. His work focuses on the intersection of culture, law, and technology, with an emphasis on subjects such as surveillance, critical data studies, intellectual property, remix culture, and music. He is the author of three books and has also written for publications including The New York Times, Billboard, Wired, The Daily Beast, and The Conversation.

Prof. Sinnreich said: “2021 demonstrated to us that many of society’s most pressing issues, from COVID disinformation to online political recruitment by extremist organizations, are challenges best understood through the lens of media and communication technology and policy. The future of our democracy will depend on how clearly we identify the underlying causes of these social ills, and how successfully we address them through proactive changes to communications policy and the way we build our digital platforms.”

Business & Economy

Itir Karaesmen Aydin is an associate professor of Information Technology & Analytics at the Kogod School of Business, American University. Her research interests are in decision making under uncertainty and using analytics to make better business decisions, and her work focuses on operations management, include supply chain management. She is particularly interested in industry applications of revenue management and pricing, supply chain management and inventory control planning and control of perishable products. Prof. Aydin has published papers in the leading journals in her field, including Operations Research, Management Science, and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management. She has served on the editorial boards of academic journals, including Manufacturing and Service Operations Management.

Prof. Karaesmen Aydin said: “The current shortages and delays experienced by multiple industries, from small businesses to global companies, brought the often-overlooked aspect of tightly-connected operations and supply chains to the forefront."

Caroline Bruckner is a senior professorial lecturer in the tax department of the Kogod School of Business, she is also the managing director of the Kogod Tax Policy Center. She has testified multiple times before both U.S. House and Senate Congressional committees as well as IRS. Since 2015, she has released ground-breaking research on the gig economy as well as women business owners and the U.S. tax code. In Oct. 2019, the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Ron Wyden (D-OR), introduced legislation to address challenges women business owners have accessing capital prompted by Bruckner’s research. She teaches courses on business law, fundamental principles of federal income tax and business implications of the future of work.

Extremism & Polarization

Kurt Braddock is an assistant professor in the School of Communication. Kurt also holds faculty fellow positions at the SOC's Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI) and the Center for University Excellence's Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL). His research focuses on the persuasive strategies used by violent extremist groups to recruit and radicalize audiences targeted by their propaganda. Prof. Braddock also explores how theories of communication, persuasion, and social influence can be used to inform practices meant to prevent radicalization among vulnerable audiences. He is presently interested in the development of communicative counter-radicalization strategies that prevent white supremacism, neo-Nazism, and the adoption of other violent far-right ideologies.

Prof. Braddock said: "In 2021, we saw a growing tendency of far-right politicians to vocalize support for extremist ideas and behaviors, particularly in the wake of the January 6th insurrection attack. I believe this trend will continue through 2022, with far-right public figures increasingly emboldened in their support for ideals and ideologies that had previously been held only by the violent fringes of the right wing."