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

The deadline for the 2020 Fellowship has passed. Please check back next fall to apply for the 2021 Fellowship program.

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 tenure-track faculty for the Spring 2020 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, cultivate networks to reach those publics, and workshop your policy brief, blog, op-ed piece, or other public engagement product(s). 

Faculty Fellows will meet twice per month during the 2020 spring semester, attending panels and skill-building workshops offered by faculty, communications experts from University Relations, and others experienced with public engagement. Fellows will also have the opportunity to work in small groups and receive peer mentoring tailored to their engagement plan, as well as to present their research to Massachusetts lawmakers. An initial meeting for accepted applicants will take place in the afternoon in December 2019.

In addition to opportunities for skill development, networking, and outreach, Public Engagement Faculty Fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend for their research account.

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in The Washington Post on the dilemma facing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in the presidential impeachment trial

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in The Washington Post on the dilemma facing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in presiding over the presidential impeachment trial. “Any decision he makes in the president’s favor will be interpreted as partisan since Roberts is a Republican. Yet any decision he makes against the president will be interpreted as biased, too,” says Collins.

Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, comments in Consumer Reports about study on lead exposure in children and pregnant women.

Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, comments in Consumer Reports on a study suggesting that children and pregnant women are exposed to less lead and mercury than they were two decades ago as a result of restrictions on use of these substances. Zoeller, who was not involved in the research, says this type of observational study is “never going to give us a perfect picture of what’s going on in the real world, but [it] serves as an incredibly important scientific tool in identifying potential areas of concern.”

Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, findings on thawing permafrost in northern Alaska featured in Technology.org

Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow and associate director of the Climate Systems Research Center at UMass Amherst, led a multi-institution team that found evidence of thawing permafrost in northern Alaska. These findings, featured in Technology.org, reveal that thawing is altering the Arctic hydrological system, disrupting inhabitants and changing the environment into a source of carbon emission. Research also featured in ScienceBlog and NSF.gov.

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee Member, quoted in New York Times article covering  annual meeting of the American Economic Association  

Coverage in The New York Times of the annual meeting of the American Economic Association quotes M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee member, and co-chair of the association’s new Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession, formed in response to revelations of sexism, racism and harassment in the profession. Badgett says, “What I’ve heard, over and over again, is — this is the moment, we need to take advantage of it.”

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, interviewed about her research on climate evolution 

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, is interviewed for a Glacjoblogia blog post about her research on climate evolution in the Arctic. In the article, she explains, "What we’re doing now is we are burning fossil fuels and driving the planet past its safety thresholds. We’re causing a radical change in snow cover, glaciers, sea ice, the migration of boreal forest and commercial fisheries to the north, all kinds of things down the line.  And its not in the future, its happening now."

Paul M. Collins Jr., 2015 PEP Fellow, discusses Chief Justice John Roberts's potential rulings in the upcoming impeachment trial in WHDH-TV 7 news story

Paul M. Collins Jr., 2015 PEP Fellow, says in WHDH-TV 7 news story that Chief Justice John Roberts isn’t likely to make controversial or partisan rulings in the upcoming impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump because that would undermine the view of the court as above politics and even handed. Also featured in ABC 4, PBS NewsHour, MetroWest Daily News, MassLive, and OregonLive.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans's research on gender-tailored methods to address the harmful mental health effects of childhood adversity featured in News Medical Life Sciences

Gender-tailored methods to address the harmful mental health effects of childhood adversity may help alleviate the current opioid crisis and make treatment more effective, concludes 2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, in her latest research about opioid use disorder (OUD) featured in News Medical Life Sciences. Looking for new ways to address the public health emergency that the opioid crisis has created, Evans and colleagues examined gender differences in associations between mental health conditions and adverse childhood experiences (ACE) among adults with opioid use disorder. The study, published in the international journal Addictive Behaviors, suggests that treatment for OUD and mental health conditions, especially in the case of women, should be integrated in settings that also provide childcare and create a supportive environment to address stigma and shame. Research also featured in Vermont Public RadioScience Codex and NEPR.

New research by Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, on the changing character of hydrological cycle elements across the North Slope of Alaska featured in Science Daily

A new analysis, featured in Science Daily, of the changing character of runoff, river discharge and other hydrological cycle elements across the North Slope of Alaska reveals significant increases in the proportion of subsurface runoff and cold season discharge, changes the authors say are “consistent with warming and thawing permafrost.” First author and lead climate modeler Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, says warming is expected to shift the Arctic from a surface water-dominated system to a groundwater-dominated system, with deeper water flow paths through newly thawed soils. “Our model estimates of permafrost thaw are consistent with the notion that permafrost region ecosystems are shifting from a net sink to a net source of carbon,” he says. Also featured in Daily Hampshire Gazette, and Stories In The News.

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