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

Celebrating 10 Years of Public Engagement: Commemorating the Past and Envisioning the Future
September 11th, 4-6 pm, Amherst Room, Campus Center
 
Please join us as we celebrate PEP's 10th anniversary, including reflections on its past and visions for its future. The event will culminate with an invited lecture by Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University, who will speak about the importance and value of public engagement. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
 

The Public Engagement Project invites applications from UMass faculty for the Spring 2019 Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship

Do you want to share your research with audiences beyond the academy, write an effective op-ed or policy brief, testify before Congress, or work with community and professional groups?

The Public Engagement Project invites applications from UMass faculty for the Spring 2019 Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship. As a Public Engagement Faculty Fellow, you’ll develop a fellowship plan tailored to your expertise and aspirations for reaching broader publics. You will receive technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences, cultivating networks to reach those publics, and workshopping your policy brief, blog, op-ed piece, or other public engagement products. 

For more information, click here. 

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in Baltimore Jewish Times and Slate about the recent controversy generated by the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in Baltimore Jewish Times and Slate about the recent controversy generated by the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a commentary authored by Democratic U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono and Sheldon Whitehouse, Collins' research is cited on the number of amicus briefs filed supporting liberal and conservative positions and what impact they have on the outcome of 5-4 cases. In another commentary, the author points to Collins' view that the nomination process was possibly the most controversial in history, not only because of the allegations of sexual abuse, but also what he calls "fairly substantial evidence that at a minimum he [Kavanaugh] misled the judiciary committee.

Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP Fellow, discusses the potential effects of naps for small children on BBC.

Rebecca Spencer,  2015 PEP Fellow, says on BBC while it is known that deep sleep helps process memories and emotions, lighter sleep, such as naps for small children, can also have a soothing effect. She says, "kids are really emotional without naps, and they're hypersensitive to emotional stimuli," because they haven't consolidated the emotional baggage from earlier in the day. Spencer says naps can help adults, but not the same degree.

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, co-authored an essay in The Conversation on the increase in interruptions by senators and the nominees during Supreme Court confirmation hearings

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, is co-author of an essay in The Conversation on how during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justices, interruptions by senators and the nominees have increased since the 1980s. Collins and his co-author Lori A. Ringhand of the University of Georgia, say overall the rate of interruptions is increasing and they echo and amplify racial, gender and partisan divides.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, releases findings of recent study on complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapy use by the Veterans Health Administration (VA)

A recent major shift in practice by the Veterans Health Administration (VA) now means that complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapies such as meditation, yoga and acupuncture are increasingly being offered to VA patients as non-drug approaches for pain management and related conditions, says 2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, an epidemiologist in the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Now, Evans and colleagues at VA centers in California, the RAND Corporation, UCLA, and the Stanford School of Medicine report results of their recent study of CIH use by gender among veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain, and variations in gender differences by race/ethnicity and age. The paper is featured as the "Editor's Choice" in the September/October issue of Women's Health Issues. Read more here.

Donald T. Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in the Times of San Diego on a new study of voting patterns among the 50 states

Donald T. Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in the Times of San Diego on a new study of the 50 states in the U.S. that shows the states that are the most diverse tend to vote Democratic while the least diverse tend to vote Republican. He says, "Growing diversity is almost always a sign of increased economic vitality," especially in major cities, with immigration contributing to growth. He also says migrants tend to increase the opportunities and earnings of natives, except for native black and white men with less than a high-school degree. 

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee member, discusses Indian economic losses due to discriminatory law in the Business Times and NDTV News.

M.V. Lee Badgett,  PEP Steering Committee member, says in the Business Times and NDTV News, the Indian economy has been losing as much as 1.4 percent of its national output because of laws that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. The estimate is this represents about $26 billion per year. The Indian Supreme Court recently struck down laws that criminalized homosexuality. The move is expected to boost economic activity in the hotel and tourism sectors and promote more multinational business ventures.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elsbeth Walker, awarded a three-year, $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics program.

A decade or so ago, scientists discovered genes they thought could be turned on to make plants take up more iron from the soil, enriching cereals, grains and other staple foods that feed millions of people around the world an iron-poor diet leading to iron deficiency anemia, says 2018 PEP Fellow, Elsbeth Walker. "But it didn't work," she adds. "Somehow the plants downregulated our efforts, and we don't understand how." Now Walker has a three-year, $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics program to learn how plants thwarted those past efforts and further, how plants firmly control iron in their systems. They have good reason for this, she adds, because iron is a highly reactive metal that can damage their tissues. Read more here.

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