What will the New Year bring? Fordham faculty, students, and administrators share their thoughts on upcoming current events and trends, and why they matter.

Oil Prices & Airline Profits

Frank Werner

Oil Prices & Airline Profits: A big story in 2015 will be the continued fall in the price of oil.  Brent crude, $115/barrel in June 2014, is now down to $60 and will likely fall to around $50 next year.  The impact is perhaps most visible at the pump where gasoline is now below $2/gallon in some parts of the country.  The effect on the U.S. economy has been a stimulus far more effective than any that government could provide: reduced production costs for businesses and significantly greater disposable income for consumers.  One major beneficiary will be the airline industry.  Fuel accounts for 25-30 percent of airline costs, the industry’s single biggest expense.  Lower oil prices will add over $6 billion to airline profits worldwide in 2015.  However, fares are unlikely to decline on most routes since the airlines are already filling their planes and have little incentive to discount prices to sell the remaining seats.

-Frank Werner, associate professor of finance and business economics

Net Neutrality No, Faster Streaming Yes

Paul Levinson

Net Neutrality No: The big social media development in 2015 will be the increase in original television watched by streaming, adding to the success of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Marco Polo, and The Peaky Blinders on Netflix and Alpha House on Amazon.  Viewing unique to smart phones, tablets, laptops, and smart television will continue to compete with and supplant traditional cable and network offerings.  Net neutrality won’t be enacted, insuring even faster streaming and better viewing for millions of consumers.

-Paul Levinson, professor of communication and media studies

A New Human Rights Movement

Aimee Meredith Cox

Human Rights: What we have witnessed during the latter half of this year is a revolutionary transformation in the way we think and act in regard to race-based injustice. I hesitate to call the protests, actions, and community mobilizations that have occurred in response to Mike Brown’s murder in Ferguson and Eric Garner’s death in Staten Island “trends”. As a young woman activist recently told me, “Mike Brown is the catalyst and Ferguson the site” that highlights the pervasive nature in the United States of state violence against people of color (who are usually black and poor), and an enduring anti-black ideology. People of all class and race backgrounds have come together to call out these inhumane practices. This is a new movement. This is a human rights issue, not a matter of partisan politics. We will see this movement for justice continue into 2015 and beyond. And, it will be largely led by the courageous and smart organizing of black youth who refuse to be silenced or see anyone refused his or her full rights of citizenship.

-Aimee Meredith Cox, assistant professor of African and African-American Studies

Pope Francis in the Land of the Free

Charles Camosy

A Papal Appeal: This coming Earth Day (April 22nd) Pope Francis will release a much-anticipated encyclical on ecology. I suspect his visit to the United States, which comes only five months later, will focus on ideas from that document. My sense is that he will call Americans–especially given our status as trend setters when it comes to the world’s economy–to radically rethink our consumerist lifestyles and addiction to technology. These twin forces are destroying both the world’s ecology and what the Pope will refer to as “human ecology.” For decades, Catholic social teaching has connected the health of the human heart or spirit with the health of the earth. I anticipate that the Pope will call on Americans to resist the disconnected lifestyle that consumerism and technology produce, and instead live a life concerned with and connected to the health and flourishing of those in need and, indeed, of the whole planet.”

-Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology

Apple Watch Drives Wearable Tech

Susan Scafidi
Susan Scafidi

Design and Tech: Fashion and fashion law are all about trends, and 2015 will be no exception.  The wearable tech sector will continue to grow, generating a steady stream of patent applications and licensing deals between designers and tech companies, and the expected release of the Apple watch is likely to boost interest still further.  Data privacy problems will remain critical for online retailers and are on the horizon for wearable tech companies as well.  And social issues, from environmental sustainability and working conditions to gender-specific workplace dress codes to ruffled feathers over Native American headdresses and other forms of cultural appropriation, will continue to be topics of conversation.  In other news, following a recent legal settlement, New York Fashion Week will leave Lincoln Center after February.  Enjoy the spectacle now!

-Susan Scafidi, academic director for the Fashion Law Institute

The Supreme Court has a Big Decision to Make

Bobby DeNault
Bobby DeNault

A Presidential Legacy: In the spring of 2015 the Supreme Court will hear another challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The judicial question revolves around the extension of federal subsidies to individuals in the 36 states that have not established health care exchanges. Plaintiffs argue that the government avoided establishing federal exchanges in the ACA, encouraging individual states to establish them instead. Contrarily, the government argues it intended to establish federal exchanges, but still encouraged states to join them in doing so. As a result, the Court has a serious decision to make. It could deconstruct the signature piece of legislation passed by the executive and legislative branches in the last six years, which would likely cement itself to critics as a politicized institution and not an objective appellate judiciary. It could also refrain from any decision with major impact. As the Obama Presidency draws to a close, a decision on this case could significantly affect his legacy.

– Bobby James DeNault, FCRH 2016, political science major

Restorative Justice and Transformative Power

Anita Lightburn
Anita Lightburn

Fixing What’s Broken: Next year we’re going to see much needed attention on restorative justice that focuses less on punishment and more on repairing harm for all involved because of crime. Fordham collaborated on an exceptional restorative justice consultation in November 2013 that brought leadership in the faith community and justice officials together with leaders from around the world who have experienced restorative justice’s transformative power. Everyone there agreed that the U.S. justice system is broken, particularly for people of color. We are inhumane with the way we handle justice. Right now the Beck Institute is working with judges, lawyers, social services and congregations in Westchester who have committed themselves to doing something about this. Currently there isn’t a program of restorative justice in the county; a tragic omission, particularly for youth. Judge George McKinnis has provided the leadership, establishing a 501c3 for Community Restorative Justice.”

-Anita Lightburn, professor of social work and director, Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty

— Janet Sassi



Janet Sassi is editor/associate director of internal communications. She can be reached at (212) 636-7577 or [email protected]