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

ISSR/PEP Seminar | Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger: How Scholars and Activists Can Partner for Reproductive and Racial Justice

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 11:30am to 1:00pm     Commonwealth Honors College Event Hall, Room 160 West (Next to Roots Cafe)

Please join us for an exciting lunch panel on the state of racial justice activism since the 2016 Presidential election. This presentation will bring together scholars interested in public engagement to hear from the renowned reproductive justice activist and co-founder of SisterSong Loretta Ross and public scholar Rickie Solinger, who will give their insights on successful partnerships between scholars and activists. For more information, click here. To RSVP, click here.

2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta's study on how women mentors help female engineering students is covered in Control Engineering

A study by 2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta and her doctoral student Tara C. Dennehy at UMass Amherst, covered in Control Engineering, found that early in college, young women in engineering majors felt more confident about their ability, a greater sense of belonging in engineering, more motivated and less anxious if they had a female, but not male, peer mentor. At the end of the first college year, a remarkable 100 percent of women students mentored by advanced female peers were still in engineering majors, Dasgupta says.

2016 PEP Fellow Jeff Blaustein publishes article on the effects of breast cancer treatments on postmenopausal women in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Jeff Blaustein, 2016 PEP Fellow, publishes “Treatments for Breast Cancer that Affect Cognitive Function in Postmenopausal Women” in the policy journal Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. The article offers a review of the potential adverse effects of the breast cancer treatments on postmenopausal patients’ quality of life, and aims to provide women and oncologists with information that will encourage them to consider side effects of aromatase inhibitors (AIs) treatment on the brain. 

2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta’s research on how female peer mentors help retain women engineering majors is cited in the Philadelphia Tribune and CNN Tech

A news story in The Philadelphia Tribune and CNN Tech cites a recent study by 2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta and her doctoral student Tara C. Dennehy that found that early in college, young women in engineering majors felt more confident about their ability, a greater sense of belonging in engineering, more motivated and less anxious if they had a female, but not male, peer mentor. At the end of the first college year, a remarkable 100 percent of women students mentored by advanced female peers were still in engineering majors, Dasgupta says. Read more here.

PEP Director Amy Schalet and colleagues' review on the harms of Abstinence-Only Until Marriage programs receives wide media coverage

Tamara Shopsin, NY Times

Thirteen leading experts in adolescent sexuality research and policy, including PEP Director Amy Schalet, release a new review of U.S. sexuality education policies and programs, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and covered in the New York Times, Forbes, NPRMedpage Today, as well as many other media outlets. The authors review the scientific evidence accumulated over several decades and conclude that AOUM programs are ineffective, stigmatizing and unethical. The review and accompanying position paper examines the U.S. government’s decades-long history of funding AOUM programs, presenting evidence on AOUM programs' inefficacy and potential harms, as well as the efficacy and benefits of more comprehensive sexuality education programs. Based on this body of research, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine has published updated recommendations on sexuality education policies and programs, reaffirming the importance of approaches that are comprehensive and grounded in scientific evidence. Photo Credit: Tamara Shopsin, NY Times

2016 PEP Fellow R. Thomas Zoeller discusses potential effective treatment for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Science News

R. Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, says the discovery that a common blood sugar medication or an extra dose of a thyroid hormone can reverse some signs fetal alcohol syndrome in rates that may help scientists find an effective treatment for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in humans. “At this moment, there’s really no pharmaceutical therapy,” Zoeller says. These disorders may affect up to 5 percent of children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and scientists don’t know exactly why alcohol has such a strong effect on developing brains. Read more: Science News

2017 PEP Fellow Jonathan Wynn discusses tackling issues of community through first-year reading selections in Inside Higher Ed

A story in Inside Higher Ed on reading lists for incoming first-year students includes a comment from Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, who is one of two co-chairs of the book selection committee at UMass Amherst. The selection is “The Other Wes Moore,” a nonfiction book that tells the story of two black boys growing up in Baltimore. “We want to tackle issues of community and also engage students at the point of…making choices and defining who they are,” Wynn says.

2017 PEP Fellow Deepankar Basu writes a column in Livemint on the impact of public health expenditures on India's infant mortality rate

Deepankar Basu, 2017 PEP Fellow, authors a column in Livemint about the impact of greater investments in public health on lowering India’s infant mortality rate.  Basu's research, coauthored with colleagues Andrew Barenberg and Ceren Soylu, and recently published in the Journal of Development Studies, suggests that an increase in public health expenditure by 1% of state-level GDP lead to a decline in India's infant mortality rate by about 9 deaths per 1,000 live births, after controlling for all other factors. According to Basu, continued investments in public health "should help India improve health outcomes more rapidly."

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