The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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

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Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow and Laurel Smith-Doerr, PEP Steering Committee Member, were recently quoted in an article on faculty burnout

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow and Laurel Smith-Doerr, PEP Steering Committee Member, were recently quoted in an article on faculty burnout. At Massachusetts, the Advance program and an Amherst sociologist are proposing a de-identified study of the Covid-19-impact feedback submitted by faculty members. Experts also say it’s not enough to just tell instructors to catalog consequences. Amherst held workshops for department chairs and for personnel committee members on how to evaluate people fairly, because “the last thing we would want is for those statements to then activate bias against people,” says Joya Misra, a co-principal investigator with the Amherst Advance program.  Laurel Smith-Doerr explains that it’s important for instructors to document Covid-19’s impact. That way evaluators can pinpoint faculty needs, at an aggregate level, and what the campus should be attending to, says Smith-Doerr. Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about state-level educational testing options and decisions

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about state-level educational testing options and decisions. Sireci explains that states could provide shorter exams to students around the start of the next school year to enable a more nimble and useful assessment system. Such truncated exams, he added, should focus as much as possible on what educators know students have actually been taught in a disrupted year. Read more at Education Week.

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, was recently interviewed about vaccination rates among people of color

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, was recently interviewed about vaccination rates among people of color. “It's understandable why individuals and communities that have been mistreated by medicine or the government might have extra questions about whether or not to accept a new vaccine,” Greyson said. Greyson explains partnering with Black and Latino community leaders can help foster trust and access. “The leaders who are health care providers or who cross over into health care as social workers, or religious leaders, let them take the lead in shaping the way in which we are distributing vaccines and vaccine information to their communities because they are the trusted go-betweens,” Greyson said. Read or listen to this NPR interview here.

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about Biden's middle ground on school testing

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about Biden's middle ground on school testing. Sireci explains that the Biden guidance is a sign that the federal government is moving away from a rigid approach to educational testing. He says, "We're starting to see the dismantling of the No Child Left Behind, end-of-year summative assessment model... It's 20 years old. It's time for a change." Read more at Bloomberg Government

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, has written an article endorsing proposals for a monthly payment to parents to help address child poverty in the U.S., an idea she notes originated with former President Richard Nixon as the Family Assistance Plan

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, has written an article endorsing proposals for a monthly payment to parents to help address child poverty in the U.S., an idea she notes originated with former President Richard Nixon as the Family Assistance Plan. Misra explains, "Currently, this is an annual benefit families may receive after filing income taxes. Instead, parents would get monthly per-child payments of $250 or $300, depending on the age of their children. Greater frequency could make a huge difference for cash-strapped parents who often run short of money needed to keep their pantries full and bills paid." Read more at The Conversation.

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, recently published an opinion piece with colleagues about the pressure the pandemic is placing on women and faculty of color in higher education

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, recently published an opinion piece with colleagues about the pressure the pandemic is placing on women and faculty of color in higher education. Misra and colleagues outline a model that can be used to address the impact of the pandemic on inclusivity in higher education. "The TREE model emphasizes thinking ahead, resource provision, evaluation, and equity. It focuses on addressing both short-term and long-term impacts on faculty members to center equity as a goal. By cultivating the ground effectively and establishing the roots of equity, colleges and universities can ensure that faculty members grow through this pandemic rather than have stunted careers." Read more at Inside Higher Ed

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, was recently interviewed about vaccine attitudes and dating app behavior

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, was recently interviewed about vaccine attitudes and dating app behavior. “I think considering the current limitations on vaccine access and worries about privilege, people queue-jumping ... the issue of vaccination being seen as a desirable trait on dating apps does raise some concerns,” Greyson said. “But on the other hand, social norms influence people’s vaccine attitudes and behavior. So sharing pro-vaccine attitudes on social media, including dating or hookup apps, is not necessarily a bad thing.” Read more at the Huffington Post.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, is quoted in an article questioning the effect on workforce diversity of Salesforce’s new remote work hiring strategy

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, is quoted in an article questioning the effect on workforce diversity of Salesforce’s new remote work hiring strategy. Tomaskovic-Devey explains that Salesforce will consider remote work hiring in other locations is a start, "but they probably also need some outreach that makes clear they are looking for increased diversity in hiring, in order to get the applications." Read more at TechTarget

Linda R. Tropp, PEP Co-Director, recently published research on key ways to motivating advantaged racial groups to act in support of racial equality

Linda R. Tropp, PEP Co-Director, recently published research on key ways to motivating advantaged racial groups to act in support of racial equalityTropp and colleagues found that having open communication about group differences is a crucial pathway. "Our views of the world are a function of our lived experience," Tropp says. "The mere act of being willing to listen and accept the validity of the experiences of people who are different from you is a profound step toward bridging difference and building unity." Read more at Science Codex and the News Office release.

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In appreciation of their generous support, the UMass Public Engagement Project would like to thank the Office of the ProvostUniversity Relations, and the Colleges of Natural SciencesSocial and Behavioral Sciences Humanities and Fine ArtsEngineeringPublic Health and Health Sciences, and Education.  The UMass Public Engagement Project also recognizes and appreciates in-kind contributions and collaborations with the Center for Research on Families and the Institute for Social Science Research