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

Seeking Submissions for The Academic Minute

If you want to discuss what new in the academy and the ways in which academic research contributes to the public good,please submit your topic for the radio segment The Academic Minute, produced by WAMC Northeast Public Radio in partnership with AAC&U. In addition to being broadcast widely on radio stations around the country, each segment is posted daily on Inside Higher Ed and across The Academic Minute’s and AAC&U’s social media portals.

Please send submissions to David Hopper at dhopper@wamc.org. We look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your considering this opportunity for public engagement.

2016 PEP Fellow Stephen G. Sireci recommends that parents ignore the student growth percentile

2016 PEP Fellow Stephen G. Sireci ​is quoted in KUOW.org article about ​student growth percentile (SGP)​. This new statistic's objective is to ​compare a child’s learning to their peers​. Sireci started researching SGPs after he first received them in the mail for his own son. He and several colleagues studied how SGPs are constructed, and the research regarding their use. ​"I hate to hear myself give you this advice, but my advice to parents is to ignore the student growth percentiles," Sireci said. Measurement error is much greater on standardized tests than on a doctor's office scale, he said.​

2015 PEP Fellow Paul M. Collins, Jr. is quoted in Daily Hampshire Gazette

2015 PEP Fellow Paul M. Collins Jr., the director of legal studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is quoted in ​"Challenges in selecting jury for third murder trial of Cara Rintala"​ article on September 12, 2016. After a week of filling out questionnaires and interviews, 13 jurors have been impaneled for the third murder trial for a former Granby woman accused of killing her wife. Paul M. Collins Jr. said he sees two primary challenges in impaneling a jury for a case that is being tried for the third time in the same court. 

A study conducted by 2015 PEP Fellow Michael A. Rawlins projects that by the year 2050, there could be as few as 20 days in the state where temperatures hit below the freezing mark.

A study conducted by researchers at UMass Amherst and published in the October issue of the Journal of Climateprojects that by the year 2050 there could be as few as 20 days in each year in Massachusetts that temperatures dip below the freezing mark. Currently, that number stands at about 90 days a year. Michael Rawlins, lead author of the study and manager of UMass Amherst's Climate Science Research Center, says the projected decrease is a result of the continued emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases. For his research, Rawlins used projections in which emissions continued to rise aggressively. He said picking such a model made sense because the planet is now at a point at which temperatures will rise this century — regardless of any actions taken to reduce emissions.

PEP steering committee member M.V. Lee Badgett is quoted in The New York Times

M.V. Lee Badgett, economics and public policy and administration, says new findings that show married male same-sex couples earn an average of $176,000, $52,000 more than married lesbian couples and $63,000 more than married straight couples, is due to the gender pay gap. Badgett says in heterosexual couples, the pay gap affects only one partner, while in same-sex couples it has an impact on both people. She also says the higher earnings for lesbian couples is likely due to the fact that most same-sex couples live on the coasts or in urban areas of the country.

"The Most Detailed Map of Gay Marriage in America" was published by The New York Times on September 12, 2016.

2015 PEP fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta cited in Quartz article on how fathers can help daughters become strong women and successful leaders

A news story on how fathers can help their daughters grow up to be strong women and successful leaders mentions research conducted by Nilanjana Dasgupta, psychological and brain sciences, that says fathers in male-dominated fields like science or engineering, help their daughters by exposing them to their work and the skills needed to succeed. She says fathers need to talk to daughters and engage them in related activities.​

PEP Director Dr. Amy Schalet writes in The Conversation about counting public communication toward tenure

PEP Director Dr. Amy Schalet, writes in The Conversation (August 18, 2016) about how academics seeking tenure find that the only writing that counts toward their goal is peer-reviewed research. She argues that academics can and should push to see that public communication is also valued. Dr. Schalet says the American Sociological Association is calling for a conversation among scholars and administrators on how to include public communication when assessing a faculty member’s work. She says such a change would make critical research, often publicly funded, more available to the the public in a timely manner and would help teach faculty members how to clearly communicate using the news media and other non-academic outlets.

2016 PEP Fellow, Peter M. Haas writes a letter-to-the-editor to Nature

the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

2016 PEP Fellow, Peter Haas gave a presentation on Evidence Based studies of Effective Science panels to a UN side panel event organized by the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) on July 20, 2016.  In his presentation, Haas recommends creating a new committee which would help organize information and guide policymakers to attain the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  Haas published his recommendations for attaining the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in a letter-to-the-editor in Nature on July 28, 2016.