Why Public Engagement?

As citizens and as scholars, we have an interest in today’s debates about public policy, conversations about the state of the world, and imagining a different future. Read more about the Public Engagement Projects' Mission and Vision

Upcoming Events

Public Engagement 101: Goal Setting, Network Mapping, and Message Development
February 21, 12:00pm to 2:00pm Hadley Room, Campus Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst  
Seating is limited. Registration closed.

In this two-hour, highly interactive workshop hosted by the UMass Public Engagement Project (PEP), former PEP Director Amy Schalet and current PEP Co-Director Ezra Markowitz will lead participants through a series of concrete activities that will improve and support their ability to effectively engage with diverse audiences, including members of the public, journalists and policymakers.

This is a hands-on, active event, so participants will get the most out of the workshop if they come with a particular research product they want to share (e.g., paper, book, study) in mind. The activities are designed to be useful for all who are interested in improving their public engagement efforts, including both seasoned communicators and those who are just starting out. 

2015 PEP Fellow Michael Rawlins interviewed on WAMC Northeast Public radio about the climate records set in 2018

2018 was the fourth warmest year on record globally and the wettest year on record in Massachusetts. Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow and associate director of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst, says on a WAMC Northeat Public radio interview that in 5-10 years when the next El Nino happens, temperatures are likely to approach the threshold that we're trying to stay below to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. He says this is a wake-up call and we need to see a transition to renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize the climate. He also says that the current rapid fluctuations in temperature are indication of "weather whiplash," an expected phenomenon as the climate warms.

2016 PEP Fellow Miliann Kang quoted in two Connecticut Post articles about labor abuses in the nail salon industry

Two articles in the Connecticut Post about labor abuses in the nail salon industry in Connecticut quote Miliann Kang, 2016 PEP Fellow, who has studied the nail industry since the 1990s. Kang says the broader issue is not labor violations, but an immigration policy that makes it difficult for people to come to the U.S. and work legally, forcing immigrants into a shadow labor market. Connecticut is the only state in the U.S. that does not require nail technicians and estheticians to be licensed. See articles here and here.

2015 PEP Fellow Rebecca Spencer is interviewed for KPCC segment on sleep deprivation and disease

Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP Fellow, is interviewed for a KPCC radio segment on sleep deprivation and how scientists now think it may be associated with increased risk of a variety of health problems including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some mental disorders. Spencer says lack of sleep has developed into a public health crisis. Segment begins at 1:00.

2018 PEP Fellow Matthew A. Lackner, and 2017 PEP Fellow Erin D. Baker, co-write an essay in The Apopka Voice on offshore wind industry in the U.S.

Matthew A. Lackner, 2018 PEP Fellow, and 2017 PEP Fellow, Erin D. Baker, write an essay in The Apopka Voice on why they believe the offshore wind industry in the U.S. is about to dramatically expand. They say a combination of support from state governments, a developing market that is lowering prices and technological advances are the drivers of this trend.

Michael A. Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, quoted in Daily Gazette and the Republican on record 2018 rain season in Amherst

Michael A. Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, says in Daily Gazette and the Republican that 2018 was the second rainiest year to date since 1836 in Amherst when records began being kept. He says 63 inches of rain fell. "This anomalously high precipitation in 2018 is part of a longer-term trend. It's getting wetter across the Northeast U.S.," he says. The wettest year on record was 1888. Rawlins says three of the four most rainy years as measured in Amherst occurred since 2008. The trend fits with what climate scientists have been predicting in a warming world. Rawlins also penned column on this rain record for WWLP

Research by 2015 PEP Fellow, Rebecca Spencer, on napping and memory for small children featured in Education Dive

Research conducted by 2015 PEP Fellow, Rebecca Spencer, featured in Education Dive, indicates missing a nap for small children significantly and negatively reduced memory in several areas, including motor-skill development and regulating emotions, is cited in a news story. The story says even if children in preschool and kindergarten don't require a nap, they should at least have some quiet time during the day. It also says up to 60 percent of 4-year-olds still need naps. Also featured in WTVMWashington Post and The Morning Sun.

2017 PEP Fellow, Erin D. Baker, quoted in Utility Drive story on the bids for offshore wind leases off the coast of Massachusetts

Erin D. Baker, 2017 PEP Fellow and associate dean for research and Armstrong Professor in engineering, says in Utility Drive, technological advances that are driving down costs are a key element in recent high bids for offshore wind leases off the coast of Massachusetts. "So, to them, developing [offshore wind projects] is more profitable, therefore they are will to pay more for them," she says. Baker also notes that leasing is just one step in the extensive permitting process developers will have to navigate.