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.  

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, releases findings of recent study on complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapy use by the Veterans Health Administration (VA)

A recent major shift in practice by the Veterans Health Administration (VA) now means that complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapies such as meditation, yoga and acupuncture are increasingly being offered to VA patients as non-drug approaches for pain management and related conditions, says 2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, an epidemiologist in the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Now, Evans and colleagues at VA centers in California, the RAND Corporation, UCLA, and the Stanford School of Medicine report results of their recent study of CIH use by gender among veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain, and variations in gender differences by race/ethnicity and age. The paper is featured as the "Editor's Choice" in the September/October issue of Women's Health Issues. Read more here.

Donald T. Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in the Times of San Diego on a new study of voting patterns among the 50 states

Donald T. Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in the Times of San Diego on a new study of the 50 states in the U.S. that shows the states that are the most diverse tend to vote Democratic while the least diverse tend to vote Republican. He says, "Growing diversity is almost always a sign of increased economic vitality," especially in major cities, with immigration contributing to growth. He also says migrants tend to increase the opportunities and earnings of natives, except for native black and white men with less than a high-school degree. 

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee member, discusses Indian economic losses due to discriminatory law in the Business Times and NDTV News.

M.V. Lee Badgett,  PEP Steering Committee member, says in the Business Times and NDTV News, the Indian economy has been losing as much as 1.4 percent of its national output because of laws that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. The estimate is this represents about $26 billion per year. The Indian Supreme Court recently struck down laws that criminalized homosexuality. The move is expected to boost economic activity in the hotel and tourism sectors and promote more multinational business ventures.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elsbeth Walker, awarded a three-year, $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics program.

A decade or so ago, scientists discovered genes they thought could be turned on to make plants take up more iron from the soil, enriching cereals, grains and other staple foods that feed millions of people around the world an iron-poor diet leading to iron deficiency anemia, says 2018 PEP Fellow, Elsbeth Walker. "But it didn't work," she adds. "Somehow the plants downregulated our efforts, and we don't understand how." Now Walker has a three-year, $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics program to learn how plants thwarted those past efforts and further, how plants firmly control iron in their systems. They have good reason for this, she adds, because iron is a highly reactive metal that can damage their tissues. Read more here.

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, discusses Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings in the Times.

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, says in Times, Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, is avoiding answering questions during his confirmation hearings in a predictable pattern. He also says it is odd that Kavanaugh hasn't recused himself from any possible decisions about Trump's assertion of executive power to issue pardons or to impede the special counsel's investigation into the 2016 campaign. "It seems clear to me that it is inappropriate for the president to be able to select a judge who may decide his fate and there is case law that supports this view. For a judge who claims to care a lot about precedent, there is a problem here," Collins says. Also featured in Star Tribune

2015 PEP Fellow, Paul M. Collins interviewed on CNN about President Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh

Paul M. Collins, a 2015 PEP Fellow, is interviewed on CNN about what questions are likely to be put to Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins says in addition to questions about his views on abortion, Kavanaugh will face close scrutiny about whether and how much he believes the president should be subject to investigation by the courts and Congress. Collins also says if Kavanaugh is confirmed to serve on the court, the chief justice, John Roberts, is likely to become the swing vote on a much more conservative court.

2016 PEP Fellow, Stephen G. Sireci, comments in Newsday about security for the SAT tests and administration of the crucial college entrance tool

2016 PEP Fellow, Stephen G. Sireci, comments in Newsday about loose security for the SAT tests and a second consecutive botched administration of the crucial college entrance tool. Copies of the latest tests, given last week, were available online and have called into question whether the results are credible. "With high-stakes tests like the SAT, social media has to be monitored these days to see what is getting out," he says. He says a better way to run the test is to offer adaptive, computerized tests that reduce how many people see the questions and allow for more questions to be used.

2015 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth L. Krause, interviewed on Bloomberg about her recent book "Made in Italy"

Elizabeth L. Krause, 2015 PEP fellow, is interviewed on Bloomberg Daybreak Asia about her recent book "Made in Italy," where she looks at how Chinese immigrant workers in Italy took over large parts of the fashion industry in that country. She says a key to their success is an entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to be self-exploitive in their work ethic.