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

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Amanda Paluch, 2023 PEP Fellow & Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, comments on the benefits and drawbacks of fitness trackers.

She says that fitness tracker technology can be a great tool to help people monitor their fitness and incrementally increase exercise and provide social sharing for some healthy competition and motivation. The downside, she says, is that the numbers are generic guidelines. “How much activity you need in order to see various health benefits — like lowering your blood pressure or improving your mental health or lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease — is going to be different depending on the person,” she says. Read more here 

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, is one of a few researchers who have received the Health Research BC awards to shape the future of health.

UBC Faculty of Medicine researchers have received Michael Smith Health Research BC 2023 Scholar awards for their work to improve the health of people in British Columbia and beyond.

The Scholar program supports early-career health researchers, helping them form their own research teams, train the next generation of scientists and develop world-leading research programs in the province. Read more here 

Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP Fellow & Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, comments on sleep deprivation following a new study that shows that Massachusetts residents rank #4 in insufficient sleep based on relevant Google searches

“You always have to read behind the headlines on something like this. People in Massachusetts are the fourth most likely to look up things like ‘insomnia’ and ‘why can’t I sleep.’ The good part of that is … [Massachusetts is]… the most educated state and so we’re doing our research.” Read more here 

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Employment Equity, recently received a Distinguished Career Award

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey has been honored with the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Distinguished Career Award by the American Sociological Association (ASA). The award was presented by the ASA’s Organizations, Occupations and Work (OOW) section at the association’s annual meeting, held August 17th to 21st in Philadelphia. Read more here 

Debbie Felton, 2023 PEP Fellow and Professor in the Department of Classics at UMass Amherst writes that UMass Amherst was omitted in a recent Recorder article about the movie “Holdovers” that listed several other local education institutions.

Debbie Felton recently wrote about how the Classics Department at UMass had a role in the "Holdovers" movie. "I’m not sure how this information fell through the cracks, but at a time when humanities departments all over the country are struggling to prove their ongoing relevance, it would have been nice to see the UMass Classics Department’s (not inconsiderable) contribution to this film included in the article." Read more here 

Deepankar Basu, 2017 PEP Fellow, Professor of Economics, has been honored with the 2022 Annual Best Paper Award by the Review of Radical Political Economics

Deepankar Basu  was recently honored with the 2022 Annual Best Paper Award by the Review of Radical Political Economics (RRPE), the journal of the Union for Radical Political Economics. In his paper, “A Reformulated Version of Marx’s Theory of Ground Rent Shows That There Cannot Be Any Absolute Rent,” Basu develops a theoretical model to analyze the concept of rent on non-produced resources such as land, which in Marxist political economy do not have any value. Read more here 


In appreciation of their generous support, the UMass Public Engagement Project would like to thank the Office of the ProvostUniversity Relations, and the Colleges of Natural SciencesSocial and Behavioral Sciences Humanities and Fine ArtsEngineeringPublic Health and Health Sciences, and Education.  The UMass Public Engagement Project also recognizes and appreciates in-kind contributions and collaborations with the Center for Research on Families and the Institute for Social Science Research