The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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

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Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, discusses climate changes leading to wildfires in the Western U.S. and causing hazy skies over New England

Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, discusses climate changes leading to wildfires in the Western U.S. and causing hazy skies over New England. He says climate impacts, including the five-fold increase in wildfires in the West and a record warm summer in Massachusetts, can be expected to continue given the amount of burning of fossil fuels and the limited mitigation being done. For more information visit the wbur radio station.  

Erin Baker, 2017 PEP Fellow & Steering Committee Member, a collaborator on research finding that green technology startup funded by ARPA — an energy version of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- file for more patents than similar business

Erin Baker, 2017 PEP Fellow & Steering Committee Member, a collaborator on research finding that green technology startup funded by ARPA — an energy version of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- file for more patents than similar businesses with other sources of funding. ARPA-E was established at the US Department of Energy under Obama, using a portion of the economic stimulus package that followed the 2009 financial crisis. Read more at ScienceDaily and view the published research article at Nature Energy.

Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP fellow, is interviewed in-depth by the nationally-syndicated public radio program “Innovation Hub” about how COVID-19 related stress impacts sleep

Rebecca Spencer, 2015 PEP fellow, is interviewed in-depth by the nationally-syndicated public radio program “Innovation Hub” about how COVID-19 related stress impacts sleep. Spencer says that the stress of the pandemic is impacting big changes in sleep schedules ultimately impacting health. Spencer further explains that for kids engage in excessive screen time tends to have worse sleep such as less overall sleep and later sleep times. Hear more at the Innovation Hub.

Karen Kurczynski, 2018 PEP Fellow, recognized for excellence in teaching by the UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Karen Kurczynski, 2018 PEP Fellow, recognized for excellence in teaching by the UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA). Kurczynski teaches students about challenging and charged artworks. One nominator wrote that artwork "can profoundly shake up students' assumptions about not only the very definition of art, but assumptions about self, community, ideologies, and beliefs." Read more about the award here at the UMass News Release

Matthew Lackner, 2018 PEP Fellow, awarded a total of $6.3 million from the National Science Foundation to pursue research on a sustainable electric grid

Matthew Lackner, 2018 PEP Fellow, awarded a total of $6.3 million from the National Science Foundation to pursue research on a sustainable electric grid. Lackner researches the aerodynamics and structural control of floating offshore wind turbines and received two grants from the National Science Foundation to pursue research that is often not considered in policymaking or public discourse. See more here for more information: UMass Amherst College of EngineeringWWLP, and Renewable Energy World

Linda R. Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, was recently interviewed about the Kenosha, WI protests

Linda R. Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, was recently interviewed about the Kenosha, WI protests. Mass Appeal interviewed Tropp to examine race relations in the U.S. and reactions to the recent Kenosha, WI shooting of a black man. Tropp explains, "When it comes to encounters with police, I think we need to acknowledge that Black and White people are really living different realities." 

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee member, says queer women are more likely to put off having children during the COVID-19 pandemic

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee member, says queer women are more likely to put off having children during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing problems accessing fertility services and economic instability. In an article by Quartz and the New York Post, Lee Badgett's research which suggests that bisexual women are more likely to be poor in comparison to lesbian or heterosexual women. Lee Badgett further explains, “Economic challenges are making certain parts of the queer community less likely to have kids because they can’t afford to get pregnant or raise kids.”

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, will virtually tour the world as a distinguished lecturer for Geological Society

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, will virtually tour the world as a distinguished lecturer for Geological Society. The Geological Society of America's (GSA) Continental Scientific Drilling Division (CSD) named Brigham-Grette as one of two distinguished lecturers for 2020. Brigham-Grette is a leading expert with 40 years of research on Arctic environmental change and has conducted eight field seasons in the Russian Arctic. Brigham-Grette will be giving online seminars on her Arctic drilling findings to geologists around the world by request throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Read more at the UMass Amherst News Release

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, co-authored an article about their recent research finding that Black and Latino essential workers are more likely to feel stressed over job safety and security during the COVID-19 pandemic than white workers

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, co-authored an article about their recent research finding that Black and Latino essential workers are more likely to feel stressed over job safety and security during the COVID-19 pandemic than white workers. In The Conversation, Jasmine Kerrissey, Claire Hammond, andTomaskovic-Devey explains that 70% of Black workers and 78% of Latino workers felt unsafe on the job in comparison to their white counterparts at 58% of workers feeling unsafe. Tomaskovic-Devey and colleagues call for greater accountability and attention to possible solutions, "As states grapple with how to reopen the workplace safely, it is critical to establish health and workplace protections that help address longstanding racial inequities in the labor market.". Read more here at the UMass Amherst News Release

Elizabeth Sharrow, 2020 PEP Fellow, found that support for Title IX is threatened as a result of the COVID-19 crisis impact on college athletics

Elizabeth Sharrow, 2020 PEP Fellow, found that support for Title IX is threatened as a result of the COVID-19 crisis impact on college athletics. In a new report published by the journal Politics & Gender, Sharrow and co-author James Druckman discuss how the results accentuate the vulnerability of certain populations during crises, and the importance of maintaining strong institutional policy support during such times. Sharrow and Druckman explain, “We wondered whether Title IX’s protections continue to receive high-levels of support as the crisis unfolds and found that male college athletes and those with high sexist attitudes exhibit decidedly low levels of support for Title IX and sexual harassment protections during the COVID-19 crisis.” 

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