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

Upcoming Events

The Conversation

Wednesday, March 7th 12pm to 1:00pm - Hadley Room, Campus Center

Why write for the general public? Access to independent, high quality, evidence-based, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy.  The Conversation is an independent source for informed commentary and analysis, written by the academic and research community and edited by journalists for the general public. At this talk, Ari Fertig, Manager of University Editorial Relations at The Conversation, will address why academics should write for the general public, how academics can learn to pitch to media outlets, and the benefits of reaching a wide audience. 

2018 PEP Fellow Karen Kurczynski discusses the work of Danish artist Asger Jorn for the the Cobra Museum for Modern Art

On Friday, February 16, Karen Kurczynski, 2018 PEP Fellow, participated via Skype as a panelist in a public forum on the uses of humor and irony in contemporary art held at the Cobra Museum for Modern Art, Amstelveen, the Netherlands. She explained how the comical juxtapositions of different characters in Danish artist Asger Jorn's (1914-1973) colorful paintings, with ironic titles such as A Soul for Sale or The Avant-Garde Won't Give Up, convey the ways meaning is interpreted differently by different audiences. Kurczynski argues that his representation of playful figures in humorous situations also makes audiences more aware of power relationships at work in the broader society. 

2015 PEP Fellow Lisa E. Chasan-Taber discusses tips on successful grant writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Lisa E. Chasan-Taber, 2015 PEP Fellow, writes an essay on tips for successful grant writing for early-career faculty in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Among the ideas she proposes are starting small and early rather than trying for a big grant right away, watch what other ideas get funded, focus on the aims section of the application first and use lots of figures and tables. She also says it’s important to dream big, even if that project is somewhat off in the distance. 

2018 PEP Fellow Elizabeth Evans' study on how childhood adversity increases the risk of alcohol and drug use disorders for veterans receives wide coverage

Results of a national study covered in Business WestScience Newsline, the Republican, and WFCR by 2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, with others at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the University of California, Los Angeles, suggest that risk for alcohol and drug use disorders among United States military veterans is increased by childhood adversity, in ways that are different between women and men and different compared to the civilian population.

2017 PEP Fellow Julie Brigham-Grette discusses ice obstructions that can cause flooding and damage in the Republican and on Western Mass News.

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, explains how chunks of ice in local rivers can build up under the surface of the water and create what is called a "keel" in the RepublicanSuch an obstruction can cause flooding or can cause damage when it breaks apart due to warming and sends ice and high waters downstream, she says. Brigham-Grette also comments in a Western Mass News story about “frazil ice,” semi-frozen water that can build up on ice jams and cause flooding and other damage. 

2018 PEP Fellow Donald Tomaskovic-Devey is interviewed by Northwest Public Television about the lack of diversity in oil companies

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in a story for Northwest Public Television about the lack of diversity in the workforce of oil companies. “For both women and for African-Americans, they tend to be among the worst performing in terms of both pay gaps and employment representation,” he says. He also says some companies are more diverse than others. “The key thing to understand is when diversity is a managerial priority, it happens,” Tomaskovic-Devey says. 

2018 PEP Fellow Timothy Randhir is interviewed on Masslive about the release of sewage into Nantucket Harbor

Timothy Randhir, 2018 PEP Fellow, says in an interview on Masslive that the recent release of more than a million gallons of raw sewage into Nantucket Harbor could cause significant harm to the harbor’s ecosystem and shellfish populations. “1 million gallons can be significant,” Randhir says. “It’s quite a big volume of wastewater getting into this system.” Rhandir says pathogens in the sewage could enter shellfish, possibly making them dangerous to eat until sufficient time has passed. He also identified another potential risk: the possibility of an algae bloom, due to excess nutrients entering the harbor from the sewage. Algae growth could disrupt the ecosystem and affect shellfish beds, he said. 

PEP Director Amy Schalet conducts webinar "Helping Journalists Interpret and Use Your Research" for ASA Section on Children and Youth

Amy Schalet

On December 6th, PEP Director Amy Schalet conducted a public engagement webinar for the American Sociological Association's Section on Children and Youth. The webinar, available here presents highlights from her chapter: “The Media: Helping Journalists Interpret and Use your Research,” recently published in Making Research Matter: A Psychologist’s Guide to Public Engagement, edited by PEP Steering Committee Member, Linda Tropp. Within, Schalet discusses some of the “rules of the game” of interacting with the media, providing tips on preparing for and conducting an effective media interview, and discussing differences between writing for academics and popular audiences. 

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