Public Engagement Project (PEP) Hosts “The Engaged Campus” – A Panel Discussion that Highlighted UMass’ Connection between the University and the Public
The Public Engagement Project (PEP) hosted a presentation about “The Engaged Campus: Giving Back to the Commonwealth and Beyond” on April 26th. The event was part of the UMass Founder’s Day celebration and discussed the importance of the University's collaborative involvement with the local, state, and national community.
PEP member Naomi Gerstel moderated this panel which featured Dan Gerber, Marla Michel, John Reiff, and Linda Tropp, who are UMass staff and faculty that play different roles in creating a campus that engages the broader community. UMass alum (’77) and Massachusetts Senator Stanley Rosenberg was also a member of the panel and provided closing remarks reflecting on his experiences as a politician and a student at UMass.
Each panelist explained a different aspect of engagement at UMass and topics spanned from the history of outreach and engagement on campus, new programs being used to create opportunities, service-learning in classrooms, and campus initiatives like the Public Engagement Project. While the presenters covered a wide variety of information, the overall conclusion was clear: UMass is an extremely engaged campus and is a leader in connecting research with the local, state, and national public. Rosenberg highlighted the fact that UMass has a function beyond just giving degrees and that the campus has done a great job creating a bridge between research and the community.
A variety of staff, faculty, students, and community members attended the panel. One attendee said, “The speakers were all extremely informative. I was here to learn about the lay of the land here at UMass in respect to community engagement. This panel was great for that purpose.” Many attendees of the panel and the panelists themselves said they came to UMass specifically because of its cutting edge attitude towards engagement.
About the Public Engagement Project:
The Public Engagement Project was founded in 2007 by social, behavioral, humanities, and life scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who wanted to expand the engagement of scholars with the world outside the academy. Faculty from the Center for Public Policy & Administration, the Center for Research on Families, the Department of Sociology, and the Psychology of Peace & Violence Program in the Department of Psychology were involved from the beginning.
The Public Engagement Project supports and trains faculty members to use their research to contribute to social change, inform public policy, and enrich public debate. Scholars learn new skills from experts and from each other to improve their communication and engagement with the media, community groups, policymakers, and practitioners. The Project also helps faculty members build their own networks of institutions and individuals who can apply their research findings, and it helpscreate institutional spaces for communication between academics and non-academics who do applied work in common areas of expertise. This public engagement not only expands the impact of research on society, it also improves the quality of research. By developing a new generation of public intellectuals, the project enhances the public’ s understanding, value, and use of research, and promotes greater integration of research and its application.