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SBS Newsletter – February 2009

In this issue

Robert PollinSocial Responsibility Shapes Economist’s Approach
The Political Economy Research Institute, part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst, is always engaged in pushing out analytic and policy boundaries in real-world economics to promote social justice and equality. These days, Robert Pollin (economics), founding co-director of PERI, has been receiving a lot of national media attention for his unique work in classifying green jobs, fundamental to formulating job creation estimates that are necessary to support the economic stimulus and provide needed relief to the American people. In fact, on request of the U.S. Department of Energy, Pollin has made modeling the green recovery program for the Obama administration a key priority. Read more...

Emily WestOn Valentines…and Other Media Messages
With February being the month of hearts, flowers and Valentine’s cards, we turn to Assistant Professor Emily West (communication), who is UMass Amherst’s “expert” on the greeting card—the subject of her dissertation. In Greeting Cards: Individuality and Authenticity in Mass Culture, West focused on “how cards are incorporated into personal, emotional communication—despite the fact that they are mass-produced and commercial—and how that tension is managed by both producers and consumers of cards.” But when it comes to Valentine’s cards, they came into being long before the “Hallmark holiday” phenomenon and mass production. Read more...

Zac BissonnetteStudent Financial Blogger to Publish Book
Zac Bissonnette ’11 (legal studies) is not your typical college student. An editor for AOL’s and, and blogger for, this 20-year-old has a new entry on his already impressive resume: a book deal. Publishers Weekly announced last month that the publishing company Portfolio beat out other bidders at auction for his first book. Read more...

Sara AfzalI Love Paris Every Moment…
“I have looked forward to studying abroad in Paris since I first started to learn French in middle school,” says Sara Mitra Afzal ’09 (journalism). “As my first French teacher described the art museums and historical sites, I became intrigued with the culture. I’ve continued to study the language, even though I knew the only way for me to truly improve my speaking is to be around native French speakers. Studying at the Université de Paris Diderot is giving me this opportunity.” Read more...

And other topics of interest...

Robert C. HolubCampus Budget Crisis Updates
Chancellor Holub has outlined a process for the UMass Amherst campus to move forward as it deals with major budget cuts. Among his recommendations, he is proposing a major realignment of existing colleges, including SBS. He says, "The colleges to be eliminated would be the College of Humanities and Fine Arts; the College of Natural Resources and the Environment; the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences." From these four, he proposes that two new colleges would be formed: a College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) and a College of Natural Sciences (CNS). In response to requests at the general meeting of the Faculty Senate for more faculty input into the decision-making process, Holub also has formed a Task Force on Reorganization that will review issues of campus reorganization and make recommendations to him. Read more...

Kevin MorrisMorris Promoted to Head Football Coach
Minuteman offensive coordinator Kevin Morris was promoted Jan. 19 to replace head coach Don Brown, who resigned in January to take over as defensive coordinator at the University of Maryland. “We are thrilled to have Kevin Morris leading our football program into the future,” said athletic director John McCutcheon. “Kevin has been an integral part of our success over the last five years. He will lead the program with the integrity and class that we expect [and] will bring an energy and new vision to the program....” Read more...

Sligo, IrelandField Study in Communication & Journalism: Sligo & West Coast of Ireland
Sligo on the West Coast of Ireland will once again be the setting for a summer multimedia journalism course open to all UMass Amherst students and alumni. The 3-credit course, developed by Steve Klein of George Mason University’s Communication Department, will focus on international journalism, including reporting in a foreign environment, 24/7 news coverage, hyper-local journalism and multimedia reporting on different platforms. Read more...

Zach SimmonsSoccer and Classroom Star Turns Pro
From soccer walk-on to Academic All-American, Zack Simmons '09 (economics and history) excelled in many settings at UMass Amherst. Now, the goalie who posted a 3.99 GPA off the field is poised to begin another chapter in his improbable story, joining the New England Revolution as a professional soccer player. Read more and watch a video...

HandshakeCampus to Career Event for Students
On Tuesday, March 3, several SBS alumni will be on campus to participate in the Alumni Association's and Student Alumni Association's Campus to Career series. Lauren Evans '07 (psychology), a national sales assistant for Clear Channel Radio in Boston; Jessica Nokes '05 (communication), a corporate recruiter for Bullhorn in Boston; and Anthony Ong '94 (political science), an associate manager at Public Consulting Group, Inc. in Boston will be part of a panel discussion program, "Got Job?: Networking, Self-Marketing and Interview Skills." The program, open to all students (but registration is required), will be held at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, March 3 in Memorial Hall. To register and for more information on the program, click here.

Upcoming Events
Alumni: Is your career related to journalism, public policy, the media, and/or public relations? Would you like to share your success story with current UMass Amherst students? We are planning to showcase several alumni in a Career Night on the evening of Wednesday, April 22. If you are interested in participating, contact Jackie Brousseau-Pereira, director of external affairs. Please include your full name, year of graduation, major, current professional title and and a brief description of your responsibilities.

Monday, March 2, 2009
Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture: "The Self-Regulation of Health Behaviors: The Environmental Affordances Framework"
James S. Jackson, Ph.D.
4:00 p.m, Cape Cod Lounge, Student Union
James S. Jackson, the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, is professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Social Research. His research focuses on issues of racial and ethnic influences on life course development, attitude change, reciprocity, social support, and coping and health among blacks in the diaspora. He is past director of the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies at UMich and past national president of the Black Students Psychological Association and Association of Black Psychologists.
Click here for more information or contact Wendy Varner, 413-545-3593.
Sponsored by the Department of Psychology, the Center for Research on Families (CRF), and the Department of Sociology at University Massachusetts Amherst.

Thursday, March 5, 2009
Interdisciplinary Seminar on Conflict and Violence Series: Deference, Dissent, and Dispute Resolution: An Experimental Intervention Using Mass Media to Change Norms and Behavior in Rwanda
Dr. Betsy Levy Paluck, Assistant Professor (psychology) at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton
5:30-6:30 pm, Tobin Hall Room 521B
Deference and dissent strike a delicate balance in any polity. Insufficient deference to authority may incapacitate government; too much may allow leaders to orchestrate mass violence. Although cross-national and cross-temporal variation in deference to authority and willingness to express dissent has long been studied in the social sciences, rarely have scholars studied programs designed to change these aspects of political culture. The present study, situated in post-genocide Rwanda, reports a qualitative and quantitative assessment of one such attempt, a radio program aimed at discouraging blind obedience and reliance on direction from authorities, and at promoting independent thought and local initiative in problem solving. Consistent with some arguments regarding the origins of political culture, the results suggest that certain aspects of political culture are changeable, at least in the short run.
Light refreshments will be provided.
Please RSVP to Jonathan Tominar and share this posting with colleagues and all students who may be interested.
The Interdisciplinary Seminar on Conflict and Violence, organized by the Psychology of Peace and Violence Concentration, is designed to promote interdisciplinary exchanges among faculty and students interested in the topics of conflict, violence, and peace, from a wide range of departments across campus. Read more...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Interview: De-Stress, Dress and Impress
5:30 p.m., Memorial Hall
Students: So, you have secured the sweet what? Don't sweat the small stuff—learn the right stuff! The Alumni Association invites you to an evening with Sara Coady Howe '02 (marketing), a senior recruiter with EMC. You'll learn best practices for interviews, the proper dress for both men and women and what you can do to prepare for the big day. Seating is limited, so RSVP today. To register, visit the Alumni Association and click on Campus to Career.
Free food and refreshments.

Wednesday, March 25 and Thursday, March 26, 2009
2009 Senior Campaign Trivia Nights
9:00–11:00 p.m., Grad Lounge in the Campus Center
Students: The 2009 Senior Campaign Committee will be kicking off the fundraising portion of the Senior Campaign to raise money for the 2009 Class Gift with back-to-back Trivia Nights!Free food, prizes for the winning teams and complimentary 2009 pint glasses. The event is only open to the first 60 trivia teams, so register today! Join the UMass Amherst Class of 2009 Facebook group today. Click here for more information about the 2009 Class Gift.

Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture: "Resilience: More than a Metaphor"
Alex J. Zautra, Ph.D., Foundation Professor of Psychology, University of Arizona
4:00 pm, Location TBA
We know from anecdote and research, science and art, that human resilience is a powerful, seemingly ubiquitous force. What is needed is a better understanding of the properties, applications, and variations of that concept. In this talk, Zautra will offer a road map for future research guided by past and present empirical evidence. He'll begin by defining resilience as a natural capacity for sustainability of purpose and recovery from adversity, shaped by social-cultural forces within communities. Using data from a series of studies on chronic pain, he will illustrate how resilience is more than a metaphor, advocate methods for research on resilience across the life-span, and open discussion of innovative interventions designed to further resilience within people and across communities.
Click here for more information or contact Wendy Varner, 413-545-3593.
Sponsored by the Center for Research on Families (CRF)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Science, Technology and Society Initiative Colloquium Series: Are we crying wolf? Lay people may be more willing to share medication information than policy makers expect
Jenna Marquard, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, UMass Amherst,
4-5:30 pm, Thompson 620
Current health information technology policy directions assume laypeople want to make explicit choices about who can access elements of their health information. To test this assumption, we presented laypeople (N=31) with a decision scenario that required them to choose whether to share their medication information with three different types of physicians. Participants generally chose to share all of their medication information, citing anticipated clinical care benefits as the main reason for their choices. They seemed, however, unaware of the possible consequences of their choices. Thus, requiring laypeople to make isolated, discrete choices about sharing specific health information may be burdensome and wasteful.
Sponsored by the Science, Technology and Society Initiative (STS)

Friday, March 27
Seminar: "Quality in Communication Research and Education: A European Perspective"
Professor Francois Heinderyckx, President of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA)
3:00–5:00 pm, Campus Center 905
Sponsored by the SBS Center 'Communication for Sustainable Social Change' (CSSC).

Thursday, April 2
Seminar: "The Clash Between Cultural Realities and the Youth-Bias in Development Programming"
Dr. Judi Aubel, President of the Grandmother Project
4:00–6:00 pm, Campus Center 903
Sponsored by the SBS Center 'Communication for Sustainable Social Change' (CSSC).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Science, Technology and Society Initiative Colloquium Series: 2.0, Using the Internet for budget transparency to increase accountability, efficiency and taxpayer confidence
4-5 pm, Location TBA
Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst for Tax and Budget Policy, U.S. PIRG
A growing number of states are using powerful Internet search technology to make budget transparency more accessible than ever before. Legislation and executive orders around the country are lifting the electronic veil on where tax dollars go. At least 18 states currently mandate that citizens be able to access a searchable online database of government expenditures. These states have come to define “Transparency 2.0”—a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. Massachusetts, consistently ranked as a top state for technology industries, should be a natural leader of the Transparency 2.0 movement. But as more and more states upgrade their transparency systems, Massachusetts has fallen behind the emerging set of best practices. We must seize the opportunity to catch up with this nationwide movement.
Sponsored by the Science, Technology and Society Initiative (STS)

Thursday–Friday, April 16–17, 2009
Science, Technology and Society Initiative Colloquium Series: First Annual Journal of Information Technology & Politics Conference, *"YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States"
This conference brings together social and computer scientists to examine the electoral impact of user-created YouTube content and to demonstrate new technical and analytic opportunities associated with new media technologies and politics. Registration is available through the conference website.
Co-sponsored by the Departments of Political Science, Computer Science and Communication at UMass Amherst; the Center for Public Policy and Administration at UMass Amherst; Panopto; TubeKit; the National Center for Digital Government; the Qualitative Data Analysis Program; the Science, Technology and Society Initiative; the Journal of Information Technology and Politics; and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst and is supported by a grant from the Research Leadership in Action Program in the Office of Research and Engagement at UMass Amherst.

Faculty/Department Notes
According to, the Anthropology Department ranks 12th in the nation for post-PhD job placements, edging out Emory, Columbia, and Stanford. The rankings are based on the 2002-2004 Survey of Earned Doctorates, an annual survey of all new recipients of doctorates from US universities at graduation. Says Elizabeth Chilton (chair, anthropology), "We even edged out Berkeley, our major competitor for grad students!" Read more...

Stuart Shulman (political science) received a Research Leadership in Action Award to host a conference on "YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States," on April 16–17, 2009 (see above under Upcoming Events for details). You can visit the conference home page, download the call for papers [pdf] and join the Crowdvine social network to get involved.

Emeritus Professor Robert A. Shanley (political science) is a participant in the Springfield School Volunteers Read Aloud program. Read article in the Springfield Republican...

Alumni News
Boris Revsin '08 (information technology), Jared Stenquist '07 (communication), and Jeff Cassidy '07 (ISOM) are founders of CampusLIVE, a company that provides a website featuring links to popular restaurants and other resources for college students. The company, founded in the Southwest Residential Area, is now based in downtown Amherst. Read an article...

Jim Foudy '68 (government, now political science), veteran editor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, MA, has been appointed associate publisher of the paper and will take over as publisher in June. He replaces Aaron Julien who is the new president of the parent company that owns the Gazette. Foudy also teaches Journalism 300, Newswriting and Reporting on campus.

Please send us your news!

SBS in the News
McClatchy Newspapers, 2/20/09; Springfield Republican, Toronto Star, Al Jazeera, 2/22/09. Several UMass Amherst economists including Gerald Friedman, Carol Heim, Robert Pollin and Rick Wolff offer their views on what is the precise definition of an economic depression, how the clean energy sector may benefit from the massive economic stimulus bill, and how the current economic downturn got so severe.

Mercury-News [San Jose, Calif.], 2/21/09. Mari Castañeda (communication) says Latino families often send messages to prisoners on the radio as part of an oral tradition in the culture.

Springfield Republican, 2/13/09. Christopher E. Overtree (psychology), director of the Psychological Services Center, comments in a story about why people seek supernatural reasons for why bad things happen on Friday the 13th., 2/12/09. Rick Wolff (economics) has created a film documentary based on his recent book Capitalism Hits the Fan. The DVD is aimed at colleges and high schools for instructional use and was produced by the Media Education Foundation in Northampton.

Boston Globe, 2/24/09. Columnist Derrick Jackson writes about transportation funding and cites projections by Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, that mass transit projects create 22,000 jobs for every $1 billion invested. Pollin says job creation for mass transit is 70 percent more than for defense spending and up to 40 percent more than for a tax cut, because the projects need many people to build and maintain them. New York Times, 2/21/09. Pollin comments in a story about the “Buy America” clause that is part of the $787 billion national economic stimulus bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Pollin says the provision should be viewed not as trade protection but as a form of industrial policy that urges U.S. manufacturers to catch up with those in other nations, especially in the fields such as wind technology. Mother Jones, 2/15/09. Pollin says that a single person needs to earn about $400 per week before taxes to achieve some semblance of economic security. He estimates there are tens of million of Americans who don’t meet this financial threshold. The Progressive, 2/11/09. Pollin comments in a story about why some economists and policymakers are calling for nationalization of banks in response to the economic meltdown and credit crisis. National Public Radio, 2/10/09. Pollin is interviewed on “Morning Edition” about “green jobs” that will be generated by the $70 billion included in the economic stimulus bill moving through Congress. AlterNet, 1/31/09. Pollin says the term “green jobs” may not be easily defined but he is in favor of creating as many jobs as possible that will promote a clean environment and fight global warming. Pollin also says the key for him is to create as many jobs as possible and not worry about specific definitions or benchmarks. Washington Independent, 1/21/09. Pollin says federal spending on energy conservation and green industries creates more jobs than cutting taxes and argues that the proposed federal stimulus bill being drafted by Congress should emphasize such projects. Some environmentalists also believe that tax cuts in the bill should be scaled back. Boston Globe, 1/20/09. Pollin says the Obama administration’s plans to boost the economy and job base through spending on infrastructure will also have the added benefit of fixing and modernizing the national transportation, energy and communications system, a task that has been largely ignored in recent years.

Associated Press, 2/9/09. James Heintz (Political Economy Research Institute) discusses spending on road and transit projects included in the federal economic stimulus bill.

New York Times, 2/12/09. Nancy Folbre (economics) writes a column calling for more spending on early childhood education. She says such programs yield significant long-term economic benefits including lowered crime rates, improved learning and lifetime earnings for children, higher tax revenue and increased employment for people in the industry. New York Times, 2/5/09. Folbre writes a column in a blog about the controversy created when funding for family planning was included in the giant economic stimulus package being written in Congress. Folbre argues that family planning does have significant economic consequences both in terms of health care and job creation and should be a subject for serious discussion. New York Times, International Herald Tribune, 1/25/09. Folbre comments about how people are adjusting to the recession by seeking safe jobs, those that may pay less but come with some level of security. She says such jobs are like high ground in a flood. Economists say so-called safe jobs in the private sector are hard to land because they are in industries that are hiring the fewest people right now.

Scoop Independent News [New Zealand], 2/4/09. An in-depth column by Gerald Epstein (economics) criticizes the idea of the "good bank, bad bank" idea ("bad bank" for short) to use US taxpayers' money to buy the toxic assets bankers created, put them in a nationalized "bad bank" and leave the bankers with the good assets to deploy as they wish. Instead, he offers another idea: reverse the traditional "good bank, bad bank" formula and have the government take over the "good assets," leaving the bad ones to the bankers, and explains how this approach will work., 2/2/09. Emily E. West (communication) comments in a story about how some consumers complain that holidays such as Valentine’s Day have become overly commercialized, especially by the greeting card industry.

Washington Post, 1/31/09. A letter-to-the-editor mentions that Sheldon Goldman (political science) is a good source of data on what kinds of people are appointed to the federal judiciary.

Times Argus [Montpelier], 1/25/09. Montpelier High School in Vermont is hosting two films by Sut Jhally (communication) on domestic violence prevention.

WBZ radio [mp3], 1/23/09. Richard D. Wolff (economics) discusses the latest unemployment figures for the state and what they mean for the economy.

Las Vegas Sun, 1/19/09. Eve Weinbaum (labor studies), director of the Labor Relations and Research Center, says organized labor is hoping to capitalize on the political momentum of Barack Obama’s election as president to push for its priorities and changes in labor law.

Valley Advocate, 1/15/09. A story on a recent green energy conference includes mention that M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, moderated a panel on the subject and notes that Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of PERI, has been a key proponent of federal spending on energy conservation and green energy projects to create jobs. Reuters, 1/14/09. A story on efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine notes that Badgett co-authored a study on the economic impact of legalizing same-sex marriages in Massachusetts.

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, Communication, Economics, Journalism, Labor Studies, Legal Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy and Administration, Social Thought and Political Economy (STPEC), and Sociology. With 38,000 alumni, 5,000 current undergraduate majors, and 500 graduate students, SBS is the largest of UMass Amherst’s colleges. In addition to its departments, it is home to numerous centers and research institutions. Through the general education courses that SBS offers, the College’s 150 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 donation to SBS for your department, student financial aid, or a purpose that speaks to your personal experiences and priorities. To make a gift online, click here. Questions? Contact:
Saige Reisler, Director of Development
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
235 Draper Hall
University of Massachusetts Amherst
40 Campus Center Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9244

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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Draper Hall • University of Massachusetts Amherst • 40 Campus Center Way • Amherst, MA 01003-9244 • Tel: 413.545.4173 • Fax: 413.577.0905
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Draper Hall University of Massachusetts 40 Campus Center Way Amherst, MA 01003-9244 (413) 545-4173 FAX: (413) 577-0905