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

Celebrating 10 Years of Public Engagement: Commemorating the Past and Visions for PEP's Future

Please join us as we celebrate PEP's 10th Anniversary on Tuesday, September 11th at 4pm in the Amherst Room, Campus Center. More details to come!

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp Selected as Recipient of the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology

Linda Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, has been selected as a recipient of the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), which "honors the author(s) of a specific article or chapter offering a theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contribution that has proven highly influential over the last 25 years." Tropp will receive this award in recognition of the 2006 article she coauthored entitled "A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory" which maintains that contact, under certain conditions, between two or more social groups can promote tolerance. If groups are allowed to communicate with one another, they may start to appreciate each other's viewpoints. Findings from Tropp's meta-analysis shows that intergroup contact typically reduces intergroup prejudice. More details available here.

PEP Fellows Matt Lackner and Erin Baker discuss the wind energy industry's expansion on the East Coast in The Conversation

Matthew A. Lackner and Erin D. Baker, 2018 and 2017 PEP Fellows, write an essay in The Conversation about why the wind energy industry is about to vastly expand and why Massachusetts is one of the states that is leading the way. They say market forces are helping the development of offshore wind energy and states on the East Coast are preparing long-range plans to develop wind energy to replace fossil fuel and nuclear power generation.

PEP Steering Committee Member, M.V. Lee Badgett, comments about the correlation between the GDP and LGBTQ acceptance in MetroWeekly

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee Member, comments in MetroWeekly about a study that found there is a correlation between a country’s GDP per capita and LGBTQ acceptance. She says programs and policies that reduce violence stigma and discrimination and improve education and health care allow LGBT people to realize their full economic potential and that boosts the overall economy.

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp's paper on the racial and economic contexts of Trump support is cited in the NY Times

A paper co-authored by Linda R. Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, on the resistance of white Americans to accepting racial minorities, is cited in a column in The New York Times about the appeal President Donald Trump has to this group of voters. The authors find that "neighborhood-level exposure to racial and ethnic minorities predicts greater group threat and racial identification among Whites as well as greater intentions to vote for Trump in the general election."

2018 PEP Fellow Elsbeth Walker receives a three year $870,000 NSF grant for her research on how plants control iron in their systems

A decade or so ago, scientists discovered genes they thought could be turned on to make plants take up more iron from the soil, enriching cereals, grains and other staple foods that feed millions of people around the world an iron-poor diet leading to iron deficiency anemia, says molecular biologist Elsbeth Walker at UMass Amherst. “But it didn’t work,” she adds. “Somehow the plants downregulated our efforts, and we don’t understand how. ”Now Walker has a three-year, $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics program to learn how plants thwarted those past efforts and further, how plants firmly control iron in their systems. They have good reason for this, she adds, because iron is a highly reactive metal that can damage their tissues. Read more here: SeedquestPhys.org

2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta discusses her research on the benefits of having women mentors for young women entering STEM fields with NSF

Nilanjana Dasgupta, 2015 PEP Fellow, describes her research with the National Science Foundation on psychological and learning environmental characteristics that influence young women to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in college. She says having women models and mentors are key elements in getting young women into the STEM fields.

2016 PEP Fellow Miliann Kang discusses the increase in awareness of the needs of children with disabilities in Korea Times

Miliann Kang, 2016 PEP Fellow, writes a column in Korea Times comparing her experiences at the Special Olympics in 1988 and this 2018. Both were held in South Korea. She says people have become much more aware of the needs of children with disabilities and this is reflected in more attention being paid to the Special Olympics. However, Kang argues there still needs to be policy changes to promote full accessibility for people with disabilities in Korea, and worldwide.