April 2014 Newsletter

In this Issue

UMass Basketball Star First Openly Gay D-1 Player

Derrick Gordon '15 (sociology) stepped forward on April 9 as the first openly gay player in Division I men's college basketball and shared his story with ESPN and Outsports.

Going Places and Telling Stories Sum Up Senior’s Dream

Dan Peltier ’14 (journalism/political science) is finding ways to combine his interest in travel with his love of writing.

SBS Senior Celebration on May 10

The SBS Senior Celebration Ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 10 at 1:00 p.m. in the Mullins Center. All SBS graduates in attendance will be recognized individually and receive a UMass Amherst medallion. Tickets are not required; seniors may invite as many guests as they like.

SBS Names Outstanding Teachers for 2014

Mwangi wa Gĩthĩnji, assistant professor of economics, and Brian McDermott, lecturer and Online Program Co-Director in the Journalism Department, are recipients of the SBS Outstanding Teaching Award.

Other Topics of Interest

Student's Internships Are "Win-Win"

Kabir Thatte in front of the White House

Kabir Thatte attended a reception at the White House for President Francois Hollande during his internship this spring at the U.S. Treasury.

Kabir Thatte ’16 (political science) knows the value of internships. Although he is only a sophomore, he has already interned with Congressman Joe Kennedy III, Joe Kennedy for Congress, the Town of Medfield, and the United States Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C.

Focusing on International Cultural Sustainability

Flavia Montenegro-Menezes

Flavia Montenegro-Menezes (landscape architecture and regional planning) has been actively engaging international communities, both locally and abroad, through research and teaching initiatives that involve assessing cultural values and behaviors.

School's Out

Boy taking test

Research by Jesse Rhodes (political science) reveals that standardized tests have a negative impact on parents' civic engagement.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Go to Six UMass Social Scientists


Of UMass's ten NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipients, six are in the Social Sciences, though not all are part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

2014 Fulbright Goes to PhD Student for Icelandic Research

Alyssa Maraj Grahame

PhD student Alyssa Maraj Grahame (political science) has received a 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholarship to continue her dissertation research in Iceland. 

UMass Names Newman as Next Provost

Katherine Newman

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has named nationally recognized sociologist and administrator Katherine Newman of the Johns Hopkins University to be its next provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs.

UMassGives Raises $112,272

UMass chapel and library with UMass Gives logo

A lot can happen in 36 hours—and it did from noon on Founder's Day, April 29 until midnight on April 30.

Alumni News | Faculty and Department News 
SBS in the News | A Word from SBS

Alumni News

Kevin Harker '91 (communication/history) recently fulfilled one of his dreams by publishing his first book. Awaken from the Darkness is a coming-of-age suspense thriller that deals with contemporary issues, such as Muslim-American relations, PTSD, autism and human trafficking.

Brendan Hall '07 (journalism/history), who has worked for ESPNBoston.com since 2010, has written an article about Derrick Gordon '15 (sociology) and his experience coming out, making him the first openly gay Division I men’s basketball player.

Heidi Berenson '79 (journalism), who earned a master's degree from Boston University's College of Communication, is a two-time Emmy and Peabody award winner for her work as a producer at ABCNews, as well as CBS News and CNN. She now heads up her own DC-based boutique firm, Berenson Communications, Inc., providing top-flight Executive Media and Presentation Training services to clients ranging from Fortune 500 executives to members of Congress. Berenson prides herself on staying connected to UMass and has led media training sessions for the biennial Academy for New Legislators, sponsored by the Donahue Institute, since its inaugural gathering in 1994. Feel free to follow Heidi on Facebook: Berenson Communications Inc. and Twitter @HeidiBCI

New York Times columnist Gail Collins MA '70 (political science) will receive an honorary doctoral degree at Undergraduate Commencement at UMass Amherst on Friday, May 9. Read more...

A story in the Springfield Republican notes that Laura Mason '11 (sociology) and Nora Murphy '12 (anthropology), who are helping organize a new food co-op that will operate in downtown Amherst, learned how co-ops run when they were undergraduates. Mason worked at the People’s Market and Murphy worked at Greeno Sub Shop. 

Melanie DeSilva '94 (communication/STPEC/women's studies), who is the marketing and recruitment manager for University Without Walls here at UMass, comments in Zimbabwe's Herald about online education. She says some students in the program still use dial-up connections while others have the latest in technology.

Evandro C. Carvalho '04 (sociology) won a five-way Democratic primary election for an open seat in the Massachusetts House. He had no Republican opponent in the final election on April 29. Read more in the Dorchester Reporter.

Please send us your news! Also, view upcoming alumni events, sponsored by the Alumni Association, on their Events Listing. And check out MaroonCentral, the Alumni Association's online community. This is a FREE social networking service that encourages communication and professional networking among alumni and students through class notes, profiles, a searchable directory, and more.

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Faculty and Department News

Michael Davidsohn, landscape contracting coordinator, contributed to an article about preparing the next generation of landscape professionals with images and project information, showing some of the 'Learning by Doing' teaching that's done in the program. Read more...

Krista Harper (anthropology /public policy) gave the keynote address at “Beyond the Lens,” the 2014 Futures of Visual Anthropology Conference at Temple University in Philadelphia. The conference featured two days of panels, installations, roundtables, and workshops to advance a collective discussion on collaboration, innovation, and public engagement within visual scholarship. Her talk, “Studying and Transforming Urban Environments through Participatory Visual and Digital Research,” explored how research methods, such as PhotoVoice and participatory mapping, provide new ways for anthropologists to forge knowledge about urban environments. Harper is co-author with Prof. Aline Gubrium (public health) of Participatory Visual and Digital Methods (2013).

Deepankar Basu (economics) participated in Harvard University's South Asia Institute Annual Symposium on informal workers, enterprises and cities. More here.

Ph.D. candidate Mike Alvarez (communication) has received a prestigious Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He is the first communication student nationally to receive one of these highly competitive fellowships. Read more...

From the Center for Public Policy and Administration: Gordon Adams MPPA/MBA '14 has received a Presidential Management Fellowship. Read more...

The Center for Research on Families has given grants and awards to 13 graduate students and undergraduates to support their research on family issues. The different grants underwrite dissertation and pre-dissertation research with faculty, travel, undergraduate research and attendance at the CRF summer Methodology Program. Read more...

The Social Thought and Political Economy (STPEC) program brought together members of Science for the People (SftP) from the 1970s and 1980s as part of a three-day April conference on the history of the organization and its approach to enduring questions of power, ideology and democracy in science. STPEC director Sigrid Schmalzer noted that like StfP, STPEC grew out of the ethos of the anti-imperialist, antiwar and student power movements. “For more than 40 years, our program has provided undergraduates at UMass Amherst with opportunities for interdisciplinary investigation of social, political, and economic power structures, and for active engagement on campus and in the community,” she says. “The Science for the People conference helps us make connections to the natural sciences and support undergraduates seeking to study scientific issues in political context.” Read more...

Journalism majors rocked it in the Boston Globe's coverage of UMass basketball player Derrick Gordon '15 (sociology) announcing that he is gay. Steve Sellner '14 wrote the story. Natalie Sczublewski '14, Erin Wolosz '15 and Sionan Barrett '16 produced the video. 

UMass Poll results showed that Massachusetts residents expressed confidence in 2014 Boston Marathon security. The results also indicated that they support the execution of Tsarnaev more than they support the death penalty in general. Read more... UMass Poll also found that Attorney General Martha Coakley emerged as the early front-runner in the race for governor, both in the Democratic primary and the general election. At the time of the poll Coakley held an 11-point lead over Republican Charlie Baker in a prospective general election matchup, 45-34, with 21% of voters undecided. She held a 30-point lead among registered Democrats in the primary race, topping state Treasurer Steve Grossman 39-9.

PhD candidate Kavita Nayar (communication) has been accepted from a very competitive field to the Annenberg Institute on Diversity and Media at USC this summer. She'll join faculty and grad students from around the continent and develop her project on "Narrating Detroit," about the media representation of the city’s past and future survival.

Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain (political science and public policy) was named to the “Top Federal 100” by Federal Computer Week. She is one of only two academics to make the list. Read more...

The National Center for Digital Government hosted six students from Externado University in Bogotá, Colombia, for one week in April. They explored management research trends in the 21st century by attending on-campus lectures, meeting with UMass faculty and students, and visiting graduate courses.  

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SBS in the News

Dollars & Sense, March/April 2014. Gerald Friedman (economics) writes about the rise of “gig economy,” which is based on employees working short-term for a particular task or defined length of time, rather than holding a regular job with a long-term connection to a particular business. Friedman says its rise comes from employers’ drive to lower costs, and that gig workers experience greater insecurity than those in traditional jobs and suffer from lack of access to established systems of social insurance. Texas Open Journal, 4/9/14.  Friedman discusses how a non-profit, single-payer health care system for the U.S. would improve care for everyone and save $1.8 trillion over the next decade. 

Bloomberg News, 4/24/14. Sheldon Goldman (political science) comments about the diversity of President Obama’s appointments to the federal judiciary and the compromises made by both the president and his opponents in Congress to get their preferred nominees confirmed. 

Buffalo Artvoice, 4/24/14. A guest essay on the impact of austerity policies notes that three UMass Amherst economists played a key role in debunking a widely cited austerity economic study. Last spring, Thomas Herndon, a graduate student, along with professors Robert Pollin and Michael Ash, pointed out major flaws in a paper written by two Harvard economists that had served as a major justification for austerity policies adopted by Congress. 

The New Yorker, 4/23/14. A story about lying includes commentary by former SBS Dean Robert Feldman, who is now deputy chancellor at UMass and has done research on the subject for four decades. Big lies, small lies, hurtful or harmless...lying happens all the time he says. 

Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 4/21/14. Research by M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, is cited in a report on legal efforts to overturn Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban. NJ.com, 4/13/14. Badgett says when New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage, couples were far more motivated to take advantage and plan weddings than in 2007 when only civil unions were legalized. “People didn’t see civil unions as equivalent” to marriage, she says. 

Associations Now, 4/21/14. Eve Weinbaum, director of the Labor Relations and Research Center, is quoted in an article about the growing popularity of worker centers, organizations of employees that are not formally recognized as unions but work for expanded workers’ rights. Boston Globe, 4/6/14. Weinbaum says union organizing in today’s economy is more difficult than during the era when heavy industries were involved, because the workplace is more fractured and more contingent workers—those who are not wage or salary workers working at least 35 hours per week—exist.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 4/21/14. The Easthampton (MA) Democratic City Committee selected Jackie Brousseau-Pereira MPA '00, director of student success and retention for the SBS Dean's Office, as the first recipient of an award to recognize a city Democrat who has made a difference through grassroots activism. Daily Hampshire Gazette, 4/16/14. Brousseau-Pereira wrote a column calling for a united effort to improve Easthampton, MA.

Marketplace, 4/16/14. David Mednicoff (public policy), director of Middle Eastern studies, comments about how Oman is trying to encourage its citizens to start small businesses. He says it will be difficult to get Omanis to seek employment that’s not with the government, where most people prefer to work. 

AllAfrica.com, 4/12/14. Léonce Ndikumana (economics) says African countries need to apply much tougher sanctions on large multinational corporations that encourage capital flight from the continent using tax havens and transfer pricing. 

Washington Post, 4/11/14, et al. Ray La Raja (political science) co-authors a column where he says the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, known as McCain-Feingold, had a devastating and unintended effect on funding for federal political campaigns because it increased the power of private outside groups and diminished the power of political parties. The law also made it easier for private groups to conceal their identity. Overall, he says the law tilted the playing field in favor of ideologically extreme forces in the political system and undercut forces of moderation. Reprints appeared around the country in various media outlets. Boston Globe, 4/9/14. La Raja comments about the five Democratic candidates running for governor, noting that they are all liberals and that politics in Massachusetts is reflecting the national trend of candidates being more ideological than in the past. Washington Post, Los Angeles TimesChristian Science Monitor, 4/3/14; Lowell Sun, et al via [MA] State House News Service 4/2/14. La Raja comments about the possible impact of this week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that eliminates aggregate contribution limits to political campaigns. He argues that the decision could be good news because it gives parties and party leaders more control over campaign cash. Overall La Raja says the decision won’t make the campaign finance system worse and may even improve it somewhat. The Dish, 4/4/14. La Raja comments about the possible impact of the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that eliminates aggregate contribution limits to political campaigns. He says that the decision could be good news because it gives parties and party leaders more control over campaign cash.

The Grio, 4/9/14. Research by Brian Schaffner (political science) on how racial attitudes affect voters is cited in a story about how racial animus has been a key element in opposition to President Barack Obama and his administration. 

Denver Post, et al, 4/9/14. Steve Fox (journalism) writes a syndicated column on how to use Twitter as a communication tool between parents and teenagers. 

Springfield Republican, 4/8/14. An article notes that Krista Harper (anthropology) and Gretchen Gano (public policy) were slated to present a talk on “Futurescape Springfield” on April 10 at the Springfield Museums’ a la Carte lecture series. Springfield is one of six Futurescape Cities exploring how to use technology to reinvent themselves. 

New York Times [Economix blog], 4/7/14. Prof. Emeritus Nancy Folbre (economics) discusses front-runners, people who gain an unfair advantage with inside information, including access to a high-speed transaction network that reveals specific trades that other people are making.This practice, she says, undermines the stability and honesty of the marketplace.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 4/7/14. Katie Ferris '14 (sociology) broke the all-time campus record for points in a women’s lacrosse game against Saint Joseph’s on April 6 at home with four goals and three assists. Ferris already holds the record for all-time scoring and has 300 career points. The Minutewomen won the game 18-2. 

The Real News Network, 4/6/14. Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, is  interviewed about how he thinks Janet Yellin will perform as the new head of the Federal Reserve. Marketplace, 4/4/14. Pollin says in an interview that full employment would be when unemployment is less than 4%

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 4/4/14. A conference on April 2 at Landmark College in Putney, VT, sponsored by UMass and the University of Vermont, looked at the social and economic impact on the region of closing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Professor Emeritus John Mullin (landscape architecture and regional planning), who co-authored a 1997 study on the impact of the Yankee Atomic plant’s closing in Rowe earlier in that decade and its impact on the community, was a discussion leader. 

Politifact.com, 4/3/14. Michael Ash (economics) is quoted about how the Political Economy Research Institute came up with its list of the top 100 air and water polluters in the U.S. and why the Koch brothers are 30th on that list. The article rated the claim as true. 

Boston Globe, 3/30/14. Research by Jesse Rhodes (political science) shows that parents of public school kids in states with more developed assessments trust government less.

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A Word from SBS

This e-letter has been created for alumni and friends of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SBS includes the degree-granting departments and programs of Anthropology, CommunicationEconomics, Journalism, Labor Studies, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Legal Studies, Political Science, Public Policy and Administration, Resource Economics, Social Thought and Political Economy (STPEC), and Sociology. Among our ranks are 38,600 alumni, 3,700 undergraduate majors, and 560 graduate students. In addition to its departments, SBS is home to numerous centers and research institutions. Through the general education courses that SBS offers, the College’s 200 faculty members teach one quarter of the nearly 20,000 undergraduates on campus in any given semester.

Gifts from alumni and friends are vital to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Your investment allows us to create remarkable opportunities for today’s—and tomorrow's—students. If you are already a donor, please accept our sincere thanks. If not, please consider a gift to SBS for your department, financial aid, a purpose that speaks to your personal experiences and priorities, or an unrestricted designation. To make a gift online, click here. Or, send a check to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Draper Hall, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 40 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003-9244. Questions? Contact James Mallet, 413.577.1700.

We welcome feedback related to this newsletter, the college in general, specific concerns, or topics of interest. Please address all correspondence, including story ideas, to Sabine Cray, director of communications and marketing. If you wish to add your name to the mailing list, or if you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us. If you have had a change of address, email or other personal information, you can update it online. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences respects your privacy. Your contact information will not be shared with anyone unrelated to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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