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

Faculty as Engaged Scholars in an Era of Uncertainty

May 1st, 12pm-1:30pm |  Campus Center, Hadley Room

What are the roles and responsibilities of researchers in these uncertain political times? How can scholars best use their resources to respond to attacks on vulnerable populations and institutions? Panelists will address how recent developments in our government affect our roles as researchers and teachers, and how scholars can contribute to positive change through public engagement.

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 covered 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.


2017 PEP Fellow Julie Brigham-Grete comments in Eos about the lack of clarity from the Trump Administration on their potential policies related to the Arctic

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, comments in a story in Eos about how scientists are trying to figure out what the Trump administration’s policy is going to be on issues related to the Arctic. To date, the administration has not signaled its intentions. Calling for strong leadership by the U.S. government on these issues, Brigham-Grete says: “The polar regions are in a state of rapid, unprecedented change due to human-caused warming of our atmosphere. It’s terribly shortsighted for the Trump administration to dismiss scientific research and international collaborations as fluff, especially around climate-related field when action, now, is so important to American society and our economy.” 

2017 PEP Fellow Julie Brigham-Grette is quoted in New Scientist regarding the effects of climate change on the retreat of Alaska's Columbia glacier

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, is quoted in New Scientist on the linked data from tree rings and from sediment layers in Prince William Sound that shows that rising temperatures are responsible for the rapid retreat of the Columbia glacier in Alaska. Scientists say it has retreated to its lowest point in 900 years on account of global warming. “Because of the coupling of the tree rings and the sediments, they can make the case that this retreat is a response to temperature and not the internal dynamics of the glacier,” she says. 

2015 PEP Fellow Paul Collins discusses Neil Gorsuch's SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings in National Media including the Washington Post and Slate

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, is co-author of a column in the Washington Post discussing the idea of giving U.S. Supreme Court justices staggered 18-year terms rather than lifetime appointments. He is also co-author of a Slate essay on why Neil Gorsuch, President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court whose confirmation hearings have been held this week, should be more forthcoming in answering questions about previous cases decided by the court. Collins says court nominees feel constrained by the experience of Judge Robert Bork in 1987 who was ultimately rejected by the Senate after he answered many questions during his confirmation hearing. See more from Collins on the Gorsuch confirmation hearings in Roll Call, and on WBUR/Radio Boston and Background Briefing with Ian Masters.

2016 PEP Fellow Thomas Zoeller is quoted in Salon about the potential for NIEHS budget cuts

Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, comments in a Salon story about the potential for budget cuts at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIEHS studies the health effects of pesticides, chemicals and cancer-causing compounds and has a budget of about $770 million in the current fiscal year. A key area of research funded by NIEHS involves endocrine disruptors. Zoeller says while its budget is relatively small, “NIESH is one of the least funded institutes” within the NIH and if the agency sees a 20-percent cut, that gives the new director a lot of power in setting the research agenda.