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

ISSR/PEP Seminar | How Scholars and Activists Can Partner for Reproductive and Racial Justice: A Conversation with Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 11:30am to 1:00pm        Old Chapel, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Join us for a critical panel on the state of racial justice activism around reproductive rights since the 2016 Presidential election. This presentation will bring together scholars, activists, and community members invested in public engagement to hear from renowned reproductive justice activist and co-founder of SisterSong, Loretta Ross, and public scholar, Rickie Solinger. Ross and Solinger will share their insights on successful partnerships between scholars and activists and discuss the complexities and importance of collaborative work in the context of the current contentious political landscape. Lunch will be served. The event is currently at capacity. Please click here to be added to the waitlist. 

PEP Steering Committee Member, Linda Tropp, publishes Making Research Matter: A Psychologist's Guide to Public Engagement

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp's book, Making Research Matter: A Psychologist's Guide to Public Engagement, has been released by APA books. Tropp's edited volume gathers a wide range of well-known experts, including PEP Director, Amy Schalet, to discuss how researchers can impact a broader audience, by lending their scientific expertise to pressing social issues, current events, and public debates. With pointers on talking to the media, testifying as an expert witness, dealing with governmental organizations, working with schools and students, and influencing public policy, this volume helps social scientists forge the vital link between scholarship and public engagement. Contributors include prominent scholars with wide-ranging areas of expertise, including academic psychologists, government officials, and leaders of professional organizations. Tropp also cites the Public Engagement Project in the book's introduction as a source of inspiration. The book is available for sale here and here.

PEP Steering Committee Member Laurel Smith-Doerr and collaborators publish report evaluating Gender Pay Equity on Campus

A recent ISSR report on gender equity among tenure-track faculty at UMass Amherst published by PEP Steering Committee Member Laurel Smith-Doerr and colleagues finds that men and women earn similar salaries — if they hold the same rank for an equivalent period of time within their college. The authors state that this positive finding places the university in a strategic position to make further progress and address a continuing under-representation of women in senior, higher-paying positions and in colleges that typically pay the highest salaries. Read more here.

PEP Steering Committee Member Ezra Markowitz co-authors report that finds more support for offshore wind than public perceives

A new investigation of public estimates of support for offshore wind energy by PEP Steering Committee Member, Ezra Markowitz and colleague suggests, among other things, that participants who say they support wind power off the coast of New England significantly overestimated the level of opposition to this new technology among their fellow New Englanders. The authors' report in the journal Energy Policy was covered by Informed Infrastructure and ReNews.

2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta's research on the impact of female mentors for women studying engineering is cited in Smartcompany.com

A story in Smartcompany.com about female mentors for women studying engineering cites recent research by Nilanjana Dasgupta, 2015 PEP Fellow, and her doctoral student Tara C. Dennehy, that found that early in college, young women in engineering majors felt more confident about their ability, a greater sense of belonging in engineering, more motivated and less anxious if they had a female, but not male, peer mentor. At the end of the first college year, a remarkable 100 percent of women students mentored by advanced female peers were still in engineering majors, Dasgupta says.

2017 PEP Fellow, Jonathan Wynn, discusses what shapes certain cities' affinities towards gentrification in The Conversation

Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, is co-author of an opinion piece in The Conversation that discusses gentrification and why it is welcomed in some cities and neighborhoods but hated in others. He says small cities such as Hartford, Conn., would like to see an influx of new residents and businesses and officials there say they would welcome gentrification, while neighborhoods in expensive cities such as New York or San Francisco see such changes as threatening. The op-ed was republished by CNNSalonBusiness Insider, the LA Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp is quoted in Time about how social norms regarding anger shape the potential for violence in the US

Linda Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, is quoted in an opinion piece in Time about the level of anger that seems to permeate America, and how increasing rage and contempt toward our fellow countrymen and women can serve as a spark to cause incidents such as the recent mass-shooting in Las Vegas. “Social norms play incredibly important roles in shaping our behavior,” she says. "We look to others in our social environment to learn whether to respond to events with violent or peaceful actions, with hatred or friendliness.” 

2016 PEP Fellow Ellen Pader's research on how US housing regulations shape Americans' approach to space is covered on BBC broadcast The Why Factor

Ellen Pader, 2016 PEP Fellow, is interviewed on BBC broadcast The Why Factor on an episode on small living. Pader describes how cultures approach space in different ways. She offers the cross cultural example that that in Mexico, sharing beds and bathrooms is preferred, while in the US, the emphasis is on more space, less sharing. Pader argues that Americans' approach to space is related to how US housing regulations promote the building of larger spaces, emphasizing individualism rather than interdependence. Listen to the story here.

2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta's research on how female mentors benefit young women engineering majors is covered in Forbes

A columnist writing in Forbes about how to get diversity right cites recent research by Nilanjana Dasgupta, 2015 PEP Fellow, and her doctoral student Tara C. Dennehy that found that early in college, young women in engineering majors felt more confident about their ability, a greater sense of belonging in engineering, more motivated and less anxious if they had a female, but not male, peer mentor. At the end of the first college year, a remarkable 100 percent of women students mentored by advanced female peers were still in engineering majors, Dasgupta says.

2017 PEP Fellow Jonathan Wynn discusses how small cities use music festivals for cultural promotion in Jezebel

Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, comments in Jezebel.com about why small cities use music festivals to promote themselves as cultural centers and hip places. “There is something about this being a cheaper avenue for getting a kind of cultural distinction to attract new residents and hopefully news businesses, new tourists, for smaller towns or smaller communities,” he says. Wynn has written a book on festivals. 

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