The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Community Engagement and Outreach

Our faculty participate in many outreach efforts and community-oriented projects.

Community partnership focuses on Dis/ability through literature

  • Janis Greve's course, English 317: Dis/ability and Literaturegives UMass students the opportunity to use the lenses of literature and art to better understand the physical and developmental differences that can often act as barriers in our society. Guided by Greve, students partner with members of two community organizations—Milestones in Hadley and Riverside Industries in Easthampton—and work with individuals within these organizations in creating their own brief graphic memoirs.

Writing with a Community Language School 

  • In Rebecca Lorimer Leonard's undergraduate course, Multilingualism and Literacy in Western Massachusetts, UMass Amherst students collaborate with students and teachers at the International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI) on a series of writing projects. Lorimer Leonard’s students have supported international students’ and scholars’ writing in ILI’s Intensive English Program; tutored immigrant and refugee students in ILI’s Free English Evening Program; revised ILI’s host family guidebook; and recently created a free, open source literacy curriculum to help language learners earn a driver’s license in Massachusetts. Lorimer Leonard’s community-engaged course introduces students to theories of multilingual literacies and then works to apply and challenge that theory to think hard about literacy’s impact on local communities. 

Radius Podcasts: Helping communities tell stories 

  • Edie Meidav is the founder and director of Radius, a student-led organization which offers the skills of narrative, storytelling, job training, and digital literacy to members of underserved communities in greater Massachusetts. Using the populist medium of podcasting and the smartphone, MFA candidates and BA students help community members tell their stories and those of their communities. Currently, Radius is working with the Care Center in Holyoke and other organizations to create a podcast that aims to share community members' lived experiences of the pandemic with the goal of promoting policy change. 

Radical Play: Fostering critical video game engagement

  • The Radical Play Institute was founded in 2016 by Associate Professor TreaAndrea M. Russworm. Radical Play is a public humanities afterschool and weekend program where we play, study, and design video games, primarily with young people in underserved communities. Youth who participate in our programs learn to discover their unique “play styles” and connect those styles to their usually longstanding love for video games. Our demographic focus includes junior high and high school students, with a particular focus on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx populations. We invite both college bound students and students who are academically at risk. The geographic focus includes cities and towns throughout the greater New England region, especially Springfield but also Easthampton, Holyoke, and Amherst. 

Science for the Public

  • Dave Toomey serves on the Board of Directors of Science for the Public (SFtP), a grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve public understanding of, and appreciation for, science. SFtP maintains a website, publishes a newsletter, sponsors a speaker series and, with the WGBH Forum Network, produces videos.