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 Public Engagement Project invites applications from UMass faculty for the Spring 2020 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 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, 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. 


Public Engagement in the Age of Social Media
October 1, 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Campus Center Room 174-76, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Social media can be a valuable tool for public engagement. But navigating the social media landscape can also be intimidating for many. How do you build a following? How do you write a Tweet that will resonate with everyday people? How do you deal with ‘trolls’?

Please join us for a panel and discussion on the use of social media for public engagement, highlighting strategies for knowing and growing your audience, effective messaging, handling controversy, and exploring the professional impacts of a social media presence.  

2019 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Schmidt, writes article for The Conversation on how the public is changing corporate behavior.

2019 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Schmidt, writes in The Conversation that consumers, investors and workers are changing corporate behavior by demanding that companies act more responsibly  . She explains that most Americans are no longer comfortable with companies' profit-driven single-mindedness, and workers are increasingly looking to work for companies that share their values. She concludes that, " The shareholder value doctrine is not dead, but we are beginning to see major cracks in its armor. And as long as investors, customers and employees continue to push for more responsible behavior, you should expect to see those cracks grow." Reprinted in The Houston Chronicle.

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.