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

Upcoming Events

Effective Communication of Risk and Uncertainty With Non-Experts
January 31 2023, 10:00am to 12:00pm EST
Via Zoom

Participants will learn about challenges and opportunities with respect to effective communication of risk and uncertainty, including conveyance of probabilistic information, distinguishing between absolute and relative risk, and understanding how peoples’ perceptions of uncertainty may depend on what is at stake. The focus will be on how to communicate risk and uncertainty more effectively with non-experts, including the use of visual techniques and analogies to improve understanding and uptake of information. Register here!

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, is cited in an article examining if layoffs at “big tech” firms may impact their diversity and equity efforts

The article explains how surging layoffs have disproportionately affected women and mid-career talent. Tomaskovic-Devey, a sociology professor at UMass, studied equal employment data from 2008-2016 and found that about 7% of tech firms are actively trying to diversify their workforce. These patterns demonstrate a risk to further entrench the dominance of white and Asian males in the industry. Read more at Reuters

 

Sade Bonilla, 2022 PEP Fellow, is participating in a panel discussion on “Understanding and addressing gender, class, and racial disparities in college enrollment”

Sade Bonilla will bring her expertise in the economics of education and education policy to the panel hosted by the Brookings Institute’s Center on Children and Families. The panel will discuss “how college enrollment rates vary depending on gender, socioeconomic status, and race or ethnicity and the role that differences in academic preparation through high school play in explaining differences across groups”. The panel will be live-streamed on January 23rd, 2023 1:30 PM EST - 3:00 PM EST, register here!

 

Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, is interviewed about the record-high rising temperatures in Massachusetts in 2022

Rawlins, the associate director of the Climate System Research Center at UMass, shared findings from the center’s report. The year 2022 was one of Massachusetts' hottest on record, and the annual total precipitation for Massachusetts was also below the average for years 1901 to 2000. “With the increasing greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and current emissions, we can expect further warming in coming decades," Rawlins says. Read more at the Boston Globe and listen to the Interview at WAMC and WWLP

 

Dr. Alicia Timme-Laragy, 2019 PEP Fellow, has been appointed by Governor Baker to serve on the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Science Advisory Board

Alicia Timmie-Largay, 2019 PEP Fellow, has been appointed by Governor Baker to serve on the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Science Advisory Board. The Science Advisory Board (SAB)'s primary role is to consider petitions to add or delete chemicals from the TURA chemical list and make recommendations to the Institute accordingly. Alicia Timme-Laragy is a developmental toxicologist with extensive experience in researching how early life exposures to pollutants affect health. Her expertise on the SAB will help inform science-based policy decisions for our state.

Matthew Lackner, 2018 PEP Fellow, publishes a piece in The Conversation explaining a promising clean energy project that aims to create the nation’s first floating offshore wind farms.

Matthew Lackner, 2018 PEP Fellow, publishes a piece in The Conversation explaining a promising clean energy project that aims to create the nation’s first floating offshore wind farms. Lackner writes that the strongest wind resources for clean energy exist farther offshore than where traditional wind turbines are built on the continental shelf. “A solution has emerged that’s being tested in several locations around the world: wind turbines that float”. This innovative project was made possible on Dec. 7th, 2022 when the federal government auctioned off five lease areas off the California coast to companies with plans to develop floating wind farms. Read more at The Conversation.

Paul Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments on faith group's calls for Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from LGBTQ+ rights Supreme Court Case

Paul Collins explains that it’s unlikely U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett will recuse herself from an upcoming LGBTQ+ rights case because of her former role on the board of Christian private schools that reportedly barred admission to children of same-sex parents. Collins says, “The allegations of a conflict are too broad to be meaningful and could apply to membership in a wide array of religious organizations that would effectively preclude many justices from ever hearing cases about any issues that remotely involve religion.” Read more at Newsweek

Paul Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, is quoted in a story reporting that the legal battle over President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student loan debt could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court

Paul Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, is quoted in a story reporting that the legal battle over President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student loan debt could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins says, there are “Signals that the court understands the time sensitive nature of what's going on and if they're going to say that ‘we're going to move this case forward,’ they'll probably do so fairly quickly.” Read more at Channel 12 News [N.C.]. 

Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, explains how lake-effect snow contributed to last week’s massive storm that dropped more than six feet of snow in some areas around Buffalo, N.Y.

Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, explains how lake-effect snow contributed to last week’s massive storm that dropped more than six feet of snow in some areas around Buffalo, N.Y. He writes the phenomenon happens when cold, dry air from Canada sweeps across the relatively warmer Great Lakes where it sucks up more moisture that then falls as snow. Rawlins also says models are predicting warming caused by climate change will lead to more of the precipitation falling as lake-effect rain, than snow. Read more at The ConversationThe Herald PressWABC-TV, and Lock Haven Express.

Linda Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, collaborated with the nonprofits American Immigration Council and Welcoming America to author a new publication – “Cultivating Contact: A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups

Linda Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, collaborated with the nonprofits American Immigration Council and Welcoming America to author a new publication – “Cultivating Contact: A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups. The free guide distills the lessons from decades of academic research and insights from community partners concerning how people from different groups experience contact with each other and how their social attitudes and behaviors can be transformed through these experiences. The 24-page booklet describes how to foster greater trust and belonging between people from different backgrounds through community-based programs and initiatives. “We developed this guide so that it could be shared widely and freely – at no cost to any organizations that might benefit from the insights offered,” says Tropp. Read more at India Education Diary.

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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