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

Stand Up for Science: Practical Approaches for Discussing Science that Matters

A free, online learning event following the March for Science hosted by the University of Michigan’s Office of Academic Innovation and RELATELearn, discuss, practice, and explore science communication and public engagement any time between May 5-7! Offered online at https://tinyurl.com/StandUpForScience

Samuel Redman, Assistant Professor of History, explores what Charles Darwin's Piltdown Man hoax of 1912 can teach us about fake news today in The Conversation

Samuel Redman, Assistant Professor of History, writes in The Conversation about how the Piltdown Man hoax in 1912 showed how scientific information and inquiry can be hampered and distorted when researchers are denied access to findings and historical objects. He says the faster and freer flow of information in today’s world would make such a hoax much more difficult to pull off. He also says free flow of information is key to promoting scientific discovery and preventing false or misleading findings.

2017 PEP Fellow Julie Brigham-Grette will present the Colorado Scientific Society's Emmons Lecture on May 18th

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, will present the Colorado Scientific Society's Emmons Lecture, Too Warm, Two Poles: How Past Interglacials Should Inform Future Coastal Policy, on Thursday, May 18th at 7pm at the American Mountaineering Center Auditorium, Golden Colorado. 

Erin Baker, 2017 PEP Fellow, comments in Phys.org on priorities for governments seeking to meet green energy goals

2017 PEP fellow, Erin Baker, comments in Phys.org about a new scientific paper that says investing in new ways of utility-scale electricity storage and capturing carbon to store underground should be priorities for governments seeking to meet green energy goals. There are other ways to succeed, she says. “Solar power has huge potential, and cleaner vehicle technology – particularly better batteries for electric vehicles – will allow us to reduce emissions from transportation, which now makes up a quarter of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,” Baker says. 

2016 PEP Fellow Thomas Zoeller comments in Politico about why federal regulators are slow to warn the public about water pollutants

Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, comments in Politico about why federal regulators are slow about warning the public about known pollutants in water such as perchlorate. The story notes that while detection of new chemicals in drinking water has improved, the regulatory process has not kept pace and industries that produce the chemicals push hard against regulation. Zoeller also notes that scientific health studies take time. “It takes 10, 15, 20 years to do the epidemiology and basic biology, and people are being hurt – there is absolutely no doubt about that. We’re producing effects on the population level, effects that aren’t going to go away,” Zoeller says.

2017 PEP Fellows Visit the Massachusetts State House to Share Their Research with Policymakers

The 2017 PEP Faculty Fellows traveled to Beacon Hill on May 9th to share their research and explore synergies in meetings with 16 state representatives, senators, and other policy leaders. In their meetings with lawmakers, the PEP fellows shared research relevant to a range of policy areas, including urban cultural policy, newborn screening and public health, energy policy, policy responses to rising sea levels, and media literacy education. "We hope that these initial meetings can be springboards for ongoing collaborative relationships through which UMass researchers can share their expertise with Massachusetts lawmakers," said PEP Director, Amy Schalet. From left to right: Jonathan Wynn (Sociology), Erin Baker (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering), Erica Scharrer (Communication), Julie Brigham-Grette (Geosciences), and Scott Garman (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology).


2017 PEP Fellow Jonathan Wynn writes an essay for The Conversation on the effects of the commercialization of music festivals

Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, writes an essay originally published by The Conversation and republished in the Washington Post about whether there are now too many music festivals in the country leading to dropping attendance. Wynn also looks at how the festivals have become increasingly commercialized and what effect that has on attendees and performers. He says we may have reached a point where “festival fatigue” is setting in.

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp is featured in US News & World Report on the rise of white identity in the Trump era

Linda Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, is featured in US News & World Report in an article on the rise of hate speech and hate crimes in the Trump era. While bias-related hostilities have increased since the election, Tropp notes that it's important to acknowledge the difference between white supremacy and the anxieties that whites may feel in response to shifting demographics and movements like Black Lives Matter. It's a separate dynamic, she says, than white supremacy – the notion that white people are somehow better or more entitled than people of other races and ethnicities. It's more a sense of anxiety over where they fit in, in a rapidly-changing world. "The problem, as I see is, is that those fears are stoked or exploited by a white supremacist agenda," Tropp adds.