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

Understanding Personal Networks: The Limits of Big Data and the Perils (Annual Rossi Lecture Series)
Presented by Mario Small, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 11:30 am - 1 pm
Campus Center, Hadley Room, Light Lunch Provided

When people seek emotional support, how do they decide whom to talk to? Network analysis and common sense would both suggest that people will go to those they are closest to‹their strong ties. Based on in-depth interviews with graduate students in one university and nationally representative survey data on adults 18 and older, this talk, based on Small¹s new book, Someone To Talk To, finds reason to question that belief. More details available here.

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. 

PEP Steering Committee members Jenny Ross and Laurel Smith-Doerr and colleagues discuss strengthening NSF proposals with effective broader impacts at a faculty workshop on 3/28

Interested in strengthening your NSF proposal with effective broader impacts? PEP Steering Committee members Jenny Ross and Laurel Smith-Doerr and colleagues will present their experiences with developing, carrying out, and evaluating projects that address broader impact goals at a faculty workshop on Wednesday, March 28th from 3-4:30pm in LSL South 330-340 (Conference Center). More details and registration information available here.

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp co-authors Guardian column arguing that public attitude towards immigrants is less hostile than the Trump administration suggests

Linda R. Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, is co-author of a column in The Guardian that says the attitude of the public in the U.S. toward immigrants is much less hostile than is reflected in moves by the Trump administration such as changing the mission statement of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to remove the phrase that we are a “nation of immigrants.” Discussing a series of actions and studies on beliefs that show widespread support for U.S. immigrants, the authors argue that these examples "uphold our nation’s values and reflect the best of who we are as a country, while our federal immigration policies are seeking to close doors and build walls. One of the best ways to honor our values as a nation is not to close opportunities to immigrants, but to successfully integrate them into the fabric of our society."

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.