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

Summer Methodology Workshop: De-Mystifying Public Engagement: A Two-Day Crash Course In Using Research to Change the World
June 10-11, 9:00am to 3:30pm
June 12, 9:00am to 12:00pm (Optional)
Machmer Hall, Room E20, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Have you always dreamed of impacting the world with your research but aren't sure how to engage with non-academic audiences? Do you find yourself mid-way through your career only speaking to your peers? Are you a graduate student, post-doc or early career faculty member looking to chart a pathway through academia that also allows you to engage with real-world problems? Are you nearing retirement and wishing to redirect your energies so your research contributes to the greater good?

This two-day crash course in public communication and public engagement skills and networking can help. The workshop is designed for anyone who wants to improve their ability to communicate and interact effectively with diverse audiences. It is open to researchers at all stages of their career; non-UMass affiliated individuals are encouraged to enroll. Learn more about the workshop and how to register here.

PEP Co-Director, Linda Tropp, receives 2019 Nevitt Sanford Award from ISPP

PEP Co-Director, Linda Tropp, has been named the 2019 recipient of the Nevitt Sanford Award from the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), in recognition of professional contributions to political psychology. Recipients of the award are “engaged in the practical application of political psychological principles, or creating knowledge that is accessible and used by practitioners to make a positive difference in the way politics is carried out.” Read more here.

2017 PEP Fellow, Julie Brigham-Grette Speaks at UN Climate Change Event in Germany

2017 PEP Fellow, Julie Brigham-Grette, chair of geosciences and chair of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Polar Research Board, was an invited speaker in late June at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held at Bonn, Germany. Her presentation at the event was organized by the International Climate and Cryosphere Institute based in Burlington, Vermont and Stockholm, Sweden. She spoke at an event related to the conference and participated in a press conference discussing future changes in ice sheets, sea level rise and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Read more here.

Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP Fellow, quoted in The Scientist story about new research on rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and processing emotional memories overnight.

Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in The Scientist about new research that finds poor quality rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep can interfere with processing emotional memories overnight. She says, “While it’s good that I can learn to put up with hearing myself sing, it may not be good for me to habituate to gunfire in my neighborhood.” She also says the study had a small sample size but did seem to draw a strong correlation between REM sleep interruptions and adaptation of the amygdala portion of the brain.

PEP Steering Committee member, Lee Badgett, appointed to NASEM Committee

Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee member, has been appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Review of Data and Research on Social Outcomes for LGBTQ+ Populations. The committee will work on a review of what we know and don't know about economic and social outcomes for LGBTQ people. 

Research by 2018 PEP Fellow Elizabeth Evans on the VA as health care safety net or last resort for women veterans featured in Health Medicine Network.

Research by 2018 PEP Fellow Elizabeth Evans, and colleagues at UCLA and at the Veterans Administration (VA) in Los Angeles, looked at why many women military veterans turn to the VA only as a health care safety net or last resort.  The research, featured in Health Medicine Network, cites bureaucratic hurdles, limited knowledge about VA eligibility and a dislike of the VA's military-like setting among factors deterring women from using VA services.

2015 PEP Fellow Rebecca Spencer's research on the impact of television on preschoolers sleep featured in MarketWatch.

Preschoolers who watch television sleep significantly less than those who don't, according to new research featured in MarketWatch by Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP Fellow, and a graduate student. Spencer also reported that 36 percent of 3 to 5-year-olds in her study had televisions in their bedrooms, and a third of those children fell asleep with the television on, often watching stimulating or violent adult programming. The study also found that daytime napping did not fully compensate for lost sleep at night. The research has also been highlighted in Science Daily, WBZ-TV 4, The Sector, All4Women, Harlem World, India TV, Sleep Review, US News & World Report, Western Mass News, Fox 8 Cleveland, and WAMC.

2019 PEP Fellow Toussaint Losier featured in three-part Kite Line series on prisoners' movement and resistance to incarceration.

Toussaint Losier, 2019 PEP Fellow, was interviewed on Kite Line radio program in a three-part series about his book on the prisoners' movement, and history of resistance to slavery and incarceration. In the program, Losier discussed the history of resistance beginning with the "workhouse" period of incarceration occurring from emancipation to the 1940s. He then moves into the rise of the "big house" ideal from WWII into the 1970s, which was a period of immense gains in prisoner self-determination and labor organizing, including the "prison rebellion years" of 1968-1972. The series concludes with a discussion of more recent waves of prisoner organizing. Listen to Part One, Part Two and Part Three now.

PEP Steering Committee Member, M.V. Lee Badgett, interviewed on Phys.org about a new study on LGBTQ rights and GDP

A new study published by PEP steering committee member, M.V. Lee Badgett, and colleagues at UMass,  Rutgers University, and Leiden University in the Netherlands has found that nations offering more rights to lesbian, gay and bisexual people enjoy significantly higher per capita GDP than those who trail in LGB equality, and that nations fostering exclusion of LGB people are causing harms to their economies. The study, "The Relationship between LGBT Inclusion and Economic Development: Macro-Level Evidence," appears online in the journal World Development, and is featured on Phys.org. "All over the world LGBT people face discrimination in the labor market, harassment and bullying in education and stresses that harm their health. This treatment diminishes their ability to contribute to the economy, and the economy suffers when countries fail to recognize their rights," says Badgett.

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