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

Making Research Matter: Sharing Insights on Public Engagement

Friday, February 2nd, 11:30pm to 1:00pm - Hadley Room, Campus Center, Lunch will be served

Please join us in celebration of the recently released book, Making Research Matter: A Psychologist's Guide to Public Engagement (Linda Tropp, Editor), for a panel and open discussion on how to engage effectively with diverse public audiences. Including book contributors from on- and off-campus and UMass faculty from the Public Engagement Project, this panel will highlight the many ways academics can become engaged scholars and share insights about effective strategies for engaging diverse audiences across a range of social issues, public domains, and institutional contexts. More details available here.

2018 PEP Fellow Donald Tomaskovic-Devey is interviewed by Northwest Public Television about the lack of diversity in oil companies

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in a story for Northwest Public Television about the lack of diversity in the workforce of oil companies. “For both women and for African-Americans, they tend to be among the worst performing in terms of both pay gaps and employment representation,” he says. He also says some companies are more diverse than others. “The key thing to understand is when diversity is a managerial priority, it happens,” Tomaskovic-Devey says. 

2018 PEP Fellow Timothy Randhir is interviewed on Masslive about the release of sewage into Nantucket Harbor

Timothy Randhir, 2018 PEP Fellow, says in an interview on Masslive that the recent release of more than a million gallons of raw sewage into Nantucket Harbor could cause significant harm to the harbor’s ecosystem and shellfish populations. “1 million gallons can be significant,” Randhir says. “It’s quite a big volume of wastewater getting into this system.” Rhandir says pathogens in the sewage could enter shellfish, possibly making them dangerous to eat until sufficient time has passed. He also identified another potential risk: the possibility of an algae bloom, due to excess nutrients entering the harbor from the sewage. Algae growth could disrupt the ecosystem and affect shellfish beds, he said. 

PEP Director Amy Schalet conducts webinar "Helping Journalists Interpret and Use Your Research" for ASA Section on Children and Youth

Amy Schalet

On December 6th, PEP Director Amy Schalet conducted a public engagement webinar for the American Sociological Association's Section on Children and Youth. The webinar, available here presents highlights from her chapter: “The Media: Helping Journalists Interpret and Use your Research,” recently published in Making Research Matter: A Psychologist’s Guide to Public Engagement, edited by PEP Steering Committee Member, Linda Tropp. Within, Schalet discusses some of the “rules of the game” of interacting with the media, providing tips on preparing for and conducting an effective media interview, and discussing differences between writing for academics and popular audiences. 

2018 PEP Fellow Elizabeth Evans’ research on the cost-effectiveness of evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder is covered by the LA Times and Reuters

Elizabeth Evans

Elizabeth Evans, 2018 PEP Fellow, co-authored an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine and covered in the Los Angeles Times Reuters, and several local media outlets that found that evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder could save billions of taxpayer dollars. Findings were based on a cost-effectiveness analysis model that compared California's observed standard of care, in which more than half of patients initiate opioid use disorder treatment with mandated, short-term, medically managed withdrawal, with a hypothetical alternative, in which all patients have immediate access to opioid agonist treatment (OAT) with methadone of unrestricted duration. The researchers found that treatment with immediate and indefinite OAT for all treatment recipients costs less (by $78,257) than with the observed standard of care. Cost savings were primarily due to lower costs from crime, health resource use, and HIV antiretroviral therapy.  Also, patients with immediate and indefinite access to OAT remained in treatment longer, accumulated more quality adjusted life years, and had lower rates of HIV seroconversion and mortality. It was estimated that if all Californians starting treatment of opioid use disorder in 2014 had received immediate and indefinite access to OAT, the total lifetime savings to society could be as high as $3.8 billion. Prominent addiction physicians also published an opinion piece on the study's findings. Read more here.

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.