Monday, March 28, 2022

Economic Impact of the Ukraine-Russia Conflict

Dr. Robin Dhakal

The recent conflict in Eastern Europe between Russia and Ukraine has tested many international norms, institutions, and systems. The strengths and relevance of international alliances, such as the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), have been directly challenged by this conflict. Even though the West has been reluctant to make this conflict a direct conflict between Russia and NATO, many countries have applied crippling economic sanctions against Russian oligarchs, government officials, and the Russian economy at large. Most recently, the Biden-Harris administration announced that the U.S. will stop importing oil from Russia. With these unprecedented international economic pressures on Russia, an obvious question arises- what will be the impact on the U.S. and the global economy?

While any war is undesirable, from the global economic perspective, the timing of this conflict couldn’t be worse. We just went through the worst pandemic in recent history and our economy has been recovering from a pandemic-induced recession followed by a high level of unemployment. While the U.S. is not in a direct conflict with Russia, we should expect the Ukraine-Russia conflict to impact the U.S. economy and to influence its monetary and fiscal policies.

It is helpful to know a few key statistics prior to a discussion about the economic impact of this conflict. First, the Russian Federation has a gross domestic product (GDP) of about $4.32 trillion (PPP, 2021 estimates), which is just 1.3% of the global economy, according to the World Bank. However, Russia’s exports make up one quarter of its GDP. There is thus reason to believe that the targeted economic sanctions imposed by the West could have a significant impact on the Russian economy. In 2021, the U.S. imported $30.76 billion worth of goods from Russia, according to the UN Comtrade Database. Oil and oil refinery products amount to sixty percent of U.S. imports from Russia. Hence, the recent announcement that the U.S. is banning imports of Russian oil will surely impact the Russian economy. However, despite the sanctions from the West, Russia’s economy is not likely to collapse thanks to its largest trading partner- China. In 2020, Russia’s exports to China amounted to $50 billion, of which 15% were oil and gas (an amount that is expected to grow during and following the Ukraine conflict). It is also important to note that two of the largest trading partners for China are the U.S. and the European Union. Therefore, it seems unlikely that China would jeopardize its own economy in order to help Russia by exclusively aligning itself with Russia.

So, what does all of this mean for the U.S. economy?

Most of the impact that this conflict will have on the U.S. and global economy will be seen in subsequent supply chain disruptions. The sanctions and economic restrictions placed on Russia mean that we are creating a virtual wall around Russia. Companies are now unable to use Russian airspace or Russian ports to transport goods. This means that it costs companies more money to transport their goods over longer air and sea routes. This is especially true when it comes to the flow of goods between China and Europe. Most of the Russian ports are closed to cargo ships which means companies must find alternative shipping routes. Because of this, since the start of the conflict, other ports around the world, including the seaports in California, have seen increased traffic. In addition, because Chinese warehouses and ports are still not functioning at full capacity because of COVID and its new wave of infections, the supply chain has been further disrupted. Furthermore, the rising oil and fuel prices have made the transportation of goods even more expensive. All of this is bad news for the world, especially since the global economy grew 2.5 times larger over the past 30 years because of ocean transportation, according to a report by the World Bank.

Perhaps the sector hardest hit by the supply chain disruption is the auto industry. Many auto manufacturers have stopped production in Russia. For example, Nissan halted production at its factory in St. Petersburg, and Renault suspended its operation in Moscow. In addition, auto manufacturers rely on many auto parts from Russia and Ukraine. This means that the auto producers are having a harder time finding chips and other parts. For example, Audi halted production for weeks because of the shortage of parts after the start of the invasion. Ford’s plant in Germany reported a similar disruption because of the shortage of parts.

In addition, we are also expected to see an impact in the global food market. Russia and Ukraine combined produce over 30% of wheat and 15% of corn in the world. Because of the conflict and the subsequent sanctions and supply chain disruption, most of the stores of wheat and corn are not expected to hit the global market. Those two products are also essential ingredients in a variety of food products we consume, such as bread, pasta, cereals, sweeteners, etc.

All of this means that we should expect to see shortages and possibly even higher inflation in the U.S.

There are a few economic scenarios that are worth analyzing if the conflict does not end soon. First, the combination of higher energy prices and supply chain disruptions means that the economy experiences a negative supply shock, which may result in stagflation. Although there is no concrete evidence of stagflation occurring in the U.S. economy yet, it remains a possibility if this conflict continues. Because there are no easy solutions to stagflation, the Fed and Congress must navigate the usage of policies carefully, such that we do not enter a bigger recession while trying to tackle inflation.

A second scenario is even more plausible: the conflict increases inflation and affects some specific industries, but the U.S. GDP and unemployment are healthy. This is a relatively easier scenario for the Fed and Congress to tackle. With appropriate policy tools, the Fed can try to decrease the money supply to dampen the fast-economic growth in the hopes of slowing down inflation. In fact, on March 16th, the Fed approved the first interest rate hike in over three years. Even though this is a step in the right direction, the Fed has to navigate these tricky waters carefully, because the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently released a revised estimate of the GDP growth rate for the U.S. economy, taking it down from 2.1% to 1.8%.

In either of these scenarios, Congress can aid the Fed by passing appropriate fiscal policy bills that are not likely to increase inflation. Slowing down some discretionary spending like the general government, defense, and foreign aid expenditures would lower government expenditures which will ease inflationary pressure. In addition, reducing targeted tax credits in energy and housing sector and reducing subsidies on fossil fuel industry could help address inflation. However, these steps need to be taken with caution and in conjunction with the Federal Reserve System.

Dr. Robin Dhakal
Dr. Robin Dhakal Bio:

“Dr. Robin Dhakal is an Assistant Professor in the Forbes School of Business and Technology. He earned a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics from University of South Florida and a B.A. in Business/Economics and Mathematics/Computer Science from Warren Wilson College. His academic research focuses on development economics and political economy. He has been teaching Economics in colleges and universities for the past nine years. “


GDP, PPP (current international $) - Russian Federation | Data. (n.d.). Data.Worldbank.Org.

Reuters. (2022, March 1). Factbox: China-Russia trade has surged as countries grow closer.

Trading Economics. (n.d.). Russia Exports to China - 2022 Data 2023 Forecast 1996–2020 Historical.

United States Trade Representative. (n.d.). Russia.

*The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any other entity.


Monday, March 14, 2022

UAGC Chronicle 4Q 2021 Edition

The UAGC Chronicle is a quarterly publication that is designed to inform and educate faculty while keeping the broader UAGC academic community updated on student successes, events, initiatives, and the people that shape our community of learners and scholars. The contributions we have received from across all departments demonstrate the high level of engagement and dedication to the UAGC Chronicle’s mission. As we strive to increase readership with each issue, we welcome your questions, ideas, and submissions. Learn more here.

The UAGC Chronicle Fourth Quarter 2021 Issue

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Role Scaffolding Plays in Student Success and Faculty Satisfaction

Designing courses that engage online learners to achieve the highest mastery of course learning outcomes is at the forefront of online course development at The University of Arizona Global Campus. During a recent course redesign, the developers sought to incorporate opportunities for the students to learn the information through various modalities, including lectures, interactives, and videos. Additionally, the developers built scaffolded assignments into the course so students could build upon the knowledge they were gaining each week and ultimately master the course learning outcomes. Along with scaffolding the assignments for student success, the developers considered the faculty's ability to provide more detailed and meaningful feedback in a time efficient manner that would contribute to student mastery of course learning outcomes. By designing scaffolded assignments, the faculty can focus on specific elements each week and cumulatively build their feedback throughout the course to support student learning and growth.

This research project was conducted in order to take a deep dive into how incorporating these strategies in course design impacts student success and faculty satisfaction. Through a mixed-methods research project, the researchers will investigate the efficacy of scaffolded course design and how it contributes to both student success and faculty satisfaction. Specifically, the research will consider the following:

1.       How does presenting information through different modalities in an online asynchronous classroom impact student retention?

2.       How does intentional scaffolding of content impact performance on course learning outcomes?

3.       How do course tools that provide guided practice, reteaching, and scaffolding impact faculty's satisfaction when teaching?

4.       How does intentional scaffolding of content impact faculty’s ability to support student success?

5.       How do students perceive their own learning was impacted from the intentional scaffolding of the course content?

6.       How do students perceive the presentation of content in this course in relation to presentation of content in their other courses?

This research will inform decisions about curriculum development to support student success and retention across the university and throughout online higher education.

Jennifer Zaur (Principal Investigator)

Jennifer Zaur is an assistant professor in the Department of Education and Liberal Arts at the University of Arizona Global Campus. She has a BA in Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Language and Literacy, both from Arizona State University. She has been an elementary school teacher, a reading interventionist, a teacher mentor, and an instructor of professional development workshops. For the last nine years, she has worked in higher education, focusing on student retention, curriculum development, and best practices in online learning.

Professor Jennifer Zaur

Dr. Amy Johnson (Co-Investigator)

Amy Johnson is a Core Faculty member for the Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education degree program in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC). She earned a Doctorate of Early Childhood Development and Education from Texas Woman’s University, a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from San Diego State University. Dr. Johnson began her career teaching elementary grades before transitioning into higher education in 2010. She has a heart for marginalized populations and has spent time in Cambodia and Mexico working with individuals who have been orphaned, trafficked, and traumatized.

Dr. Amy Johnson 

Dr. Allison Rief (Co-Investigator)

Dr. Allison Rief is an Associate Professor and Associate Director in the Academic Engagement Center at the University of Arizona Global Campus. Dr. Rief’s research interests include virtual professional learning communities, collaborative and reciprocal relationships with online associate faculty, course design with intentional scaffolding within online learning, and the effects of how flexibility and care impact student learning. Within higher education, she has had experience launching new programs and revising existing programs, developing courses, providing professional development, and working with collaborative teams across the university. Currently, Dr. Rief is a member of the Change Advisory Group, Student Conduct and Community Standards Committee, Forbes Center for Women’s Leadership, Turn the Tide, and oversees the partnership with No Excuses University schools. Beyond the programs she leads, she also serves on Doctoral committees and teaches the Doctoral In-Residence.

Dr. Allison Rief 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Live Learning Through  Asynchronous First-year Experience: Learning from Students

Jennifer Robinson, Ph.D.
The purpose of this research was to understand better and disseminate students' reactions to Live Learning (or synchronous learning) as part of an asynchronous first-year experience course. Live Learning (LL) is optional, except for Information Literacy. However, LL is now gaining traction as a viable alternative to solely asynchronous teaching and learning. Understanding how students react to these sessions is crucial as part of the First-Year Experience High Impact Practices (Kuh, 2008). Without understanding this information, we run the risk of not adapting our sessions to meet the needs of our students and not supporting their persistence to graduation. 

 Information Literacy has traditionally been a completely asynchronous course as part of the general education sequence at UAGC. However, during the 2021 redesign, embedded orientation and LL were added as requirements for students. Embedded orientation is mentioned in conjunction with LL because LL teaches students how to use the online library to complete assignments and how-to-use-the-library modules were traditionally housed in an orientation course. When the decision was made to embed orientation into general education courses to demonstrate the connections between university resources and course progression, LL and the library became a common objective. 

Synchronous learning is a viable option alongside otherwise completely asynchronous learning. Such sessions allow faculty to make public what is often private teaching, especially in asynchronous courses (Yamagata-Lynch, 2014). These participatory learning spaces enable students to feel a sense of connection with the university while demonstrating the value of their presence (Han, 2013) and decreasing transactional distance (Moore, 2013). Students who engage in synchronous learning as part of an asynchronous course engage in scaffolded teaching and learning and begin to think of themselves as participatory learners. Synchronous learning sessions must be well-executed and intentionally designed to promote community, interaction, and dialogue (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011). 

This qualitative case study will share the themes and patterns that emerged from students' voices through the triangulation of three data points:

1. Zoom chat during LL
2. Post LL student surveys
3. A question required on the final project in the course
Conclusions will also offer suggestions for what research still needs to be undertaken. Since the revision team followed the recommendations of creating a well-executed and intentionally designed Live Learning session, we want to ensure that students feel they have benefitted from this required part of the course. This study supports the High Impact Practice of First-Year Experience and supports the Power of One retention and persistence initiative. Through uncovering themes in the data, it will be possible to revise GEN103 and the LL sessions to meet the needs of students and promote retention and persistence toward graduation.

PI for this study is Jen Robinson (Lead Faculty). Co-PIs are Stacy Manning (Core Faculty), Tanya Mooney (Core Faculty), Diane Hilbrink (Associate Faculty), Benjamin Sorensen (Associate Faculty), and Cathlene Dollar (Associate Faculty).

Conrad, R.M. & Donaldson, J.A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources
for creative instruction (2nd ed). Jossey-Bass

Kuh, G. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them,and why they matter. Association of American Colleges and Universities.  

Han, H. (2013). Do nonvermal emotional cues matter? Effectof of video casting in synchronousvirtual classrooms. American Journal of Distance Education, 27(4), 17-28.

Moore, R. (2003). Reexamining the field experiences of preservice teachers. Journal of TeacherEducation, 54(1), 31-42.

Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2014). Blending Online Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning. TheInternational Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(2), 189-212. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v15i2.1778