March 27th

Colloquium: A Call to Public Sociology: Inspiration and Insights from Sociological Images

Reaching 20,000 readers daily, Sociological Images helps a broad public audience develop and apply a sociological imagination. In addition to offering an overview of the blog's reach and impact, Lisa Wade, PhD – founder, author, and editor – will narrate the blog's unlikely beginnings, reveal the "behind the scenes" workings, and share its evolving philosophy, including those features that have contributed to its success. She'll close with a frank discussion of some of the challenges facing academics interested in blogging for a general audience and an optimistic call to take advantage of the keen and eager public interest in the social sciences.

Dr. Lisa Wade is a cultural critic and sociologist based in Los Angeles. An assistant professor at Occidental College, her research involves discourses about gender, sexuality, and transnational feminisms. She is most widely known for her work on the popular blog "Sociological Images," a site that reaches 20,000 readers daily. Lisa's public sociology, born in the blog, now extends to print, radio, television, and online news and commentary.

FALL 2011

November 22nd

Schalet's New Book Attracting Widespread Media Attention

Not Under My Roof

A new book by Amy Schalet, assistant professor of sociology, is attracting widespread media attention. Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex, released November 1 by the University of Chicago press, compares attitudes toward teen sex in the U.S. and Holland, where teen pregnancy rates are significantly lower than in our country. Schalet calls for a new comprehensive sex education program in the U.S. that focuses on strategies such as encouraging teen autonomy and helping teens to build healthy relationships with their parents and peers.

Schalet’s book has been featured nationwide on National Public Radio. It has also been featured in the Washington Post, The Slate, Salon, Time, the Huffington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. In Canada, stories have been featured by Maclean's and Ontario Today.

October 26th | 3 pm - 4.30 pm | Campus Center 803

Studying Stories That Can Change Policy: Narratives in Science Communication,
Policy Analysis, and the Policy Process

Michael D. Jones, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, will speak on Wednesday, October 26, from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Campus Center 803 about his research on narratives and public policy. The talk is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the UMass Public Engagement Project.

Jones’ talk, “Studying Stories That Can Change Policy: Narratives in Science Communication, Policy Analysis, and the Policy Process,” will draw on the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), an approach to studying public policy that Jones helped to develop, elaborate and empirically test.

NPF recognizes political speeches, interest group letters, media reports, policy briefs and other related materials as narratives, or stories, that shape people’s understanding of themselves and their communities. According to Jones, NPF can significantly contribute to explaining policy processes and outcomes.

Jones has applied NPF to understanding public perceptions of solutions to climate change, opinions about gay and lesbian parenting, and mass attitudes toward campaign finance reform.

In his talk, Jones will discuss the role of NPF in synthesizing findings from such disciplines as communication, marketing, neuroscience, and public policy, and also how NPF can improve the communication of scientific information and the practice of policy analysis.

In addition to his work this year at Harvard, Jones is a collaborator with the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Oklahoma.

The UMass Public Engagement Project supports and helps to train faculty members who want their research to make a difference in the world, and is a collaborative project of the Center for Research on Families, the Center for Public Policy and Administration, the Department of Sociology, and the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program.

For additional information about Jones’ visit, please contact M.V. Lee Badgett (lbadgett@pubpol.umass.edu), or check out the Poliblog.


A panel designed to provide faculty with strategies for disseminating potentially controversial research findings or theoretical perspectives to diverse audiences met on April 14 in Gordon hall. The panel was moderated by Amy Schalet, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Panelists addressed the problems that can sometimes arise when faculty discuss their research in public forums.

Check out CPPA's Poliblog for more details.

Workshop on Effective Public Management

On June 9th, 2011 att the Berkshire conference, a one-day workshop on effective public management was held in Gordon Hall. This workshop was designed to help historians (both faculty & graduate students) bridge the gap between their academic work and broader public engagement. Sessions were held to provide participants with (1) an improved understanding of how to work in diverse public settings and (2) communication and networking skills to strategically and effectively engage in those settings while also thriving in academia.

Issues addressed included: How can our scholarly work be most useful in legislative, judicial, administrative, activist, or inter-professional settings? What are the “rules of the game” for common sites of engagement? What are the major challenges for academics in non-academic settings? How do we effectively interact with the media, including helping to reframe complex issues? What strategies have proven effective for writing and placing influential op-eds? How can we use newer electronic media—such as blogs—toward our ends? What is the impact of public engagement on academic scholarship and academic standards? Can public engagement activities help at promotion and tenure time?

Workshop activities included guided discussions, sharing expertise, brainstorming sessions, short writing exercises, mapping of professional networks, and role-playing. Workshop leaders came from several disciplines, all with backgrounds including expertise on topics related to gender and sexuality. The lunchtime speaker was Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were,Marriage: A History, and A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

A talk by noted social historian and author Stephanie Coontz. Coontz's talk, "'Mad Men,' Working 'Girls,' and Depressed Housewives: The 1960s and The Feminine Mystique," took place on Thursday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Mahar Auditorium at UMass.

Coontz drew on her newest book, "A Strange Stirring": The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, to describe how housewives and female office workers were mobilized by Betty Friedan's 1963 bestseller to change their lives.

Coontz is the author of award-winning books that include The Way We Never Were and Marriage, A History. Her research on gender and families has been widely featured in the media, and she has testified before Congress about issues and policies that affect contemporary households.

This event was sponsored by a number of centers and departments at UMass, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Five Colleges, Inc. For a full list of sponsors and additional information about Coontz and her research, please visit the CPPA PoliBlog.


(Click Here for Photos of the Event)

RESEARCH METHODS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE panel presentation considered how research methods promote social justice across a variety of contexts, both locally and globally.

Michael Ash, Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy, discussed his recent work using EPA data to track the industrial sources and differential effects of air pollution;

Mari Castañeda, Associate Professor of Communication, who conducts research in the areas of new media, communication policy, and Latino/Chicano studies, and whose work with Student Bridges has helped to expand college access for residents throughout Western Massachusetts;

Julie Hemment, Associate Professor of Anthropology, whose participatory action research with women activists in post-Soviet Russia offers important insights into cross-cultural analysis and the problems of democratization;

Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Professor in Clinical Psychology, who directs the NIH-funded Work and Family Transitions Project , which uses a longitudinal approach to explore the effects of the transition to parenthood and early return to paid employment on working-class families; and

Millie Thayer, Assistant Professor of Sociology, who teaches graduate-level field research methods and whose scholarship has focused on cross-border feminist relationships, Latin American women’s movements, and the social movement/international funding agency nexus.

The panel’s moderator was Amy Schalet, Assistant Professor of Sociology, whose research examines culture, sexuality and adolescents.

FALL 2009

How to Make Friends and Influence Policy: Working with State and Federal Policy Makers

Featured speakers:

Cheryl L. Dukes, Associate Director of State Government Relations, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Chris Hellman, Communications and Budget Analyst National Priorities Project

Prior to joining the Center, Chris spent six years as a Senior Research Analyst at the Centerfor Defense Information. He also worked for two years as a military budget specialist at Physicians for Social Responsibility. Previously, Chris spent ten years on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer working on national security and foreign policy issues. He is a frequent media commentator on military planning, policy, and budgetary issues and is the author of
numerous reports and articles.


Working with Social Movements: Lessons from the Front Lines

Featured speakers:

Sonia Alvarez, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, and holder of the Leonard J. Horwitz Professorship in Latin American Politics and Studies, UMass Amherst.

Stephanie Luce, Associate Professor and Acting Chair of the Labor Center, UMass Amherst.

Amilcar Shabbazz, Professor and Chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst.

M. V. Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics, Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, UMass Amherst, and Research Director at the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA.

FALL 2008

The 2008 Presidential Election: A Sociology Department Forum

Speakers addressed the following topics: representations of race and gender, sexual and reproductive politics, affirmative action, the financial crisis, and much more. Following the introductions there was an open-mike discussion among members of the audience.

The forum featured brief introductory remarks by four faculty in the Sociology department:

Sanjiv Gupta, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Sociology

Jen Lundquist, Associatet Professor, Associate Director of the Social and Demographic Research Institute (SADRI), UMass Amherst.

David Cort, Assistant Professor of the Sociology Department, UMass Amherst.

Amy Schalet, Assistant Professor of the Sociology Department, UMass Amherst.


Writing Op-Eds and Getting Them Placed

Featured speakers:

Ralph Whitehead Jr., Professor of Journalism, UMass Amherst.

Nancy Folbre, Professor of Economics, UMass Amherst.

Robert Pollin, Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), UMass

Patrick Callahan, Associate News Editor, Office of News & Media Relations, UMass Amherst.

Moderated by M. V. Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics, Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, UMass Amherst, and Research Director at the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA.

FALL 2007

Taking Research on Families Outside of the Academy:
How to Craft Effective Media Messages

A forum to learn how to make research available to policy makers, journalists, practitioners, and the public.

Featured speakers:

M. V. Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics, Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, UMass Amherst, and Research Director at the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA.

Edward F Blaguszewski, Director of News & Information, UMass Amherst. Kyle D. Pruett, M.D., Clinical Professor, Child Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, and Director of Medical Studies, Yale Child Study Center.

Marsha Kline Pruett, the Maconda Brown Professor of Psychology and Social Work, Smith College.

Moderated by Amy Schalet, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.