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.  

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 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 "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.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, published research on the effect of prescription treatments for opioid use disorder on incarceration featured in Medical Xpress.

When it comes to addressing the national opioid crisis, most of the research has focused on the physical health risks faced by people with opioid use disorder, such as overdose and infectious disease. For the first time, Elizabeth Evans, 2018 PEP Fellow, studied the impact of treating opioid use disorder on the risk for arrest and incarceration, comparing the effects of two different medications approved for the condition. Published in the journal Addiction, the new research, featured in Medical Xpress, found that, over a period of five years, people with opioid use disorder taking either prescribed medication were less likely to be arrested and incarcerated than those with the disorder who were not taking the medication. "There has been very little examination of the impact on social outcomes of treating opioid use disorder," says Evans, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and lead author of the paper. "We shifted the research focus to look at criminal justice outcomes and whether providing medication was related to the likelihood of arrest or incarceration over time." Research also featured in Managed Care, News Medical Life Sciences, and R & D Magazine.

2019 PEP Fellow, Toussaint Losier, interviewed in The Appeal about misuse of prison labor in Texas

2019 PEP Fellow, Toussaint Losier, was interviewed in a story on The Appeal about a south central region federal prison official's use of prison labor from his Texas facility to do work on his church. The prisoners worked on several church landscaping and repair tasks over several days despite being paid below the Texas minimum wage in extreme heat. Losier explains, this incident is “in line with the abuses of power that take place in almost mundane ways…It sounds like this regional director was basically able to get his church repaired for next to nothing with this prison labor.”

Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, is co-author of an essay in The Conversation on the fragile state of the modern music festival economy

Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, is co-author of an essay in The Conversation where the fragile state of the modern music festival economy is examined in light of the Fyre Festival debacle of 2017. The authors say smaller events such as the Green River Festival in Greenfield could both boost the fortunes of festival organizers and benefit musicians who haven't yet attained national exposure. They also call for more local organizing and less corporate ownership that tends to make all festivals seem the same

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans receives a $1.5 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans receives a $1.5 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will fund a three-year research project undertaken by Elizabeth Evans, health promotion and policy, and two western Massachusetts sheriff's offices to design, implement and study an opioid treatment program for jail detainees. The program could serve as a model for tackling one of the nation's top public health crises. Read more about the project on MassLive, the Daily Gazette,, Healthcare News, and