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

Summer Methodology Workshop: De-Mystifying Public Engagement: A Two-Day Crash Course In Using Research to Change the World
June 10-11, 9:00am to 3:30pm
June 12, 9:00am to 12:00pm (Optional)
Machmer Hall, Room E20, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Have you always dreamed of impacting the world with your research but aren't sure how to engage with non-academic audiences? Do you find yourself mid-way through your career only speaking to your peers? Are you a graduate student, post-doc or early career faculty member looking to chart a pathway through academia that also allows you to engage with real-world problems? Are you nearing retirement and wishing to redirect your energies so your research contributes to the greater good?

This two-day crash course in public communication and public engagement skills and networking can help. The workshop is designed for anyone who wants to improve their ability to communicate and interact effectively with diverse audiences. It is open to researchers at all stages of their career; non-UMass affiliated individuals are encouraged to enroll. Learn more about the workshop and how to register here.

2019 PEP Fellow Toussaint Losier featured in three-part Kite Line series on prisoners' movement and resistance to incarceration.

Toussaint Losier, 2019 PEP Fellow, was interviewed on Kite Line radio program in a three-part series about his book on the prisoners' movement, and history of resistance to slavery and incarceration. In the program, Losier discussed the history of resistance beginning with the "workhouse" period of incarceration occurring from emancipation to the 1940s. He then moves into the rise of the "big house" ideal from WWII into the 1970s, which was a period of immense gains in prisoner self-determination and labor organizing, including the "prison rebellion years" of 1968-1972. The series concludes with a discussion of more recent waves of prisoner organizing. Listen to Part One, Part Two and Part Three now.

PEP Steering Committee Member, M.V. Lee Badgett, interviewed on Phys.org about a new study on LGBTQ rights and GDP

A new study published by PEP steering committee member, M.V. Lee Badgett, and colleagues at UMass,  Rutgers University, and Leiden University in the Netherlands has found that nations offering more rights to lesbian, gay and bisexual people enjoy significantly higher per capita GDP than those who trail in LGB equality, and that nations fostering exclusion of LGB people are causing harms to their economies. The study, "The Relationship between LGBT Inclusion and Economic Development: Macro-Level Evidence," appears online in the journal World Development, and is featured on Phys.org. "All over the world LGBT people face discrimination in the labor market, harassment and bullying in education and stresses that harm their health. This treatment diminishes their ability to contribute to the economy, and the economy suffers when countries fail to recognize their rights," says Badgett.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, published research on the effect of prescription treatments for opioid use disorder on incarceration featured in Medical Xpress.

When it comes to addressing the national opioid crisis, most of the research has focused on the physical health risks faced by people with opioid use disorder, such as overdose and infectious disease. For the first time, Elizabeth Evans, 2018 PEP Fellow, studied the impact of treating opioid use disorder on the risk for arrest and incarceration, comparing the effects of two different medications approved for the condition. Published in the journal Addiction, the new research, featured in Medical Xpress, found that, over a period of five years, people with opioid use disorder taking either prescribed medication were less likely to be arrested and incarcerated than those with the disorder who were not taking the medication. "There has been very little examination of the impact on social outcomes of treating opioid use disorder," says Evans, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and lead author of the paper. "We shifted the research focus to look at criminal justice outcomes and whether providing medication was related to the likelihood of arrest or incarceration over time." Research also featured in Managed Care, News Medical Life Sciences, and R & D Magazine.

2019 PEP Fellow, Toussaint Losier, interviewed in The Appeal about misuse of prison labor in Texas

2019 PEP Fellow, Toussaint Losier, was interviewed in a story on The Appeal about a south central region federal prison official's use of prison labor from his Texas facility to do work on his church. The prisoners worked on several church landscaping and repair tasks over several days despite being paid below the Texas minimum wage in extreme heat. Losier explains, this incident is “in line with the abuses of power that take place in almost mundane ways…It sounds like this regional director was basically able to get his church repaired for next to nothing with this prison labor.”

Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, is co-author of an essay in The Conversation on the fragile state of the modern music festival economy

Jonathan R. Wynn, 2017 PEP Fellow, is co-author of an essay in The Conversation where the fragile state of the modern music festival economy is examined in light of the Fyre Festival debacle of 2017. The authors say smaller events such as the Green River Festival in Greenfield could both boost the fortunes of festival organizers and benefit musicians who haven't yet attained national exposure. They also call for more local organizing and less corporate ownership that tends to make all festivals seem the same

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans receives a $1.5 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans receives a $1.5 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will fund a three-year research project undertaken by Elizabeth Evans, health promotion and policy, and two western Massachusetts sheriff's offices to design, implement and study an opioid treatment program for jail detainees. The program could serve as a model for tackling one of the nation's top public health crises. Read more about the project on MassLive, the Daily Gazette, WAMCNews-Medical.net, Healthcare News, and Phys.org.

2015 PEP Fellow, Rebecca Spencer, research on sleep and memory featured in Medical Xpress

Research conducted by 2015 PEP Fellow, Rebecca Spencer, on sleep and how it affects learning and memory, is featured in Medical Xpress. "People are talking about sleep more now," Spencer says. "Doctors have realized that they need to ask patients about sleep, but they don't have the answers. So, they send them for a sleep study. Well, everyone has some level of sleep disorder – we just don't know enough about how to delineate them." Spencer says she is currently studying sleep in both preschoolers and the elderly. 

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