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
June 10-11, 9:00am to 3:30pm
June 12, 9:00am to 12:00pm (Optional)
Machmer Hall, Room E20, University of Massachusetts Amherst

As scholars, we often find ourselves wishing that our research could help people and organizations improve their work and lives, yet oftentimes we lack the skills and networks necessary to accomplish this worthy goal. In response, this workshop aims to promote participants' efficacy as public communicators and engaged scholars. Through a series of hands-on exercises and activities, participants will improve their ability to communicate effectively with non-academic audiences, learn how to engage diverse audiences, and develop personalized public engagement plans to promote follow-through and long-term success as engaged scholars. Participants do not need previous experience with public engagement and/or communication to attend but should come prepared to work on one or more concrete engagement products (e.g., op-ed, policy brief, media interview preparation). Go here for more info.

2017 PEP Fellow, Erin D. Baker, quoted in Utility Drive story on the bids for offshore wind leases off the coast of Massachusetts

Erin D. Baker, 2017 PEP Fellow and associate dean for research and Armstrong Professor in engineering, says in Utility Drive, technological advances that are driving down costs are a key element in recent high bids for offshore wind leases off the coast of Massachusetts. "So, to them, developing [offshore wind projects] is more profitable, therefore they are will to pay more for them," she says. Baker also notes that leasing is just one step in the extensive permitting process developers will have to navigate.

2015 PEP Fellow, Michael A. Rawlins interviewed on WWLP news story about the impact of this year's rainy weather on the Quabbin Reservoir

In a WWLP news story, Michael A. Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow and associate director of the Climate System Research Center, says this year's rainy weather has filled the Quabbin Reservoir to its limit of 412 billion gallons of water. That is 35.4 billion gallons or 8.6 percent above the average for Dec. 1 measurements taken during the past 14 years. Rawlins says this could signal trouble for next spring when excess water could lead to flooded basements, septic system failures and flooding.

2018 PEP Fellow, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey publishes Conversation essay on harsh outcomes of sexual harassment complaints

In an essay published by The Conversation, 2018 PEP fellow Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and a colleague from the UMass Amherst Center for Employment Equity report that employees who file sexual harassment complaints often face harsh outcomes, with 65 percent losing their jobs within a year and 68 percent reporting some form of retaliation by their employer. In their report, "Employer's Responses to Sexual Harassment," co-authors 2018 PEP fellow, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, and PEP Steering Committee Member, M.V. Lee Badgett, along with a colleague analyzed over 46,000 harassment claims sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state Fair Employment Practices Agencies from 2012-16. These cases represent only a small amount (0.2 percent) of the estimated 25.6 million experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace that occurred over this same five-year window. Their research was also featured in a story on WFCR.

Michael A. Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in Daily Gazette news story on effect of this year's wet weather on local farmers

Commenting in a Daily Gazette news story about how this year's wet weather has affected local farmers, Michael A. Rawlins, 2015 PEP fellow and associate director of the Climate Systems Research Center, says it has been the second rainiest year to date – measured from January through November – since 1836 in Amherst when records began being kept. He says 59 inches of rain fell. "Heavy precipitation is becoming more intense and more frequent across most of the United States. Particularly in the Northeast...These trends are projected to increase in the future," Rawlins says.

2018 PEP Fellow, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and PEP Steering Committee Member, M.V. Lee Badgett co-authored report on consequences of filing sexual harassment complaints featured in Wall Street Journal and Business West

Employees who file sexual harassment complaints often face harsh outcomes, with 65 percent losing their jobs within a year, and 68 percent reporting some form of retaliation by their employer, according to new research from the UMass Amherst Center for Employment Equity. In their report featured in Wall Street Journal and Business West, "Employer's Responses to Sexual Harassment," co-authors 2018 PEP fellow, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, and PEP Steering Committee member, M.V. Lee Badgett, along with another colleague analyzed over 46,000 harassment claims sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state Fair Employment Practices Agencies from 2012-16. These cases represent only a small amount (0.2 percent) of the estimated 25.6 million experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace that occurred over this same five-year window. Read more herehere and here. Tomaskovic-Devey and colleague were also interviewed for a program on WGBY.

2016 PEP Fellow, R Thomas Zoeller, writes piece in Environmental Health News on the long-term health implications of our current chemical policy

R Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, writes in Environmental Health News about the long-term health implications of our current chemical policy. He argues that most consumers are not aware of the chemicals to which they are exposed, many of which have not been tested for human safety. He goes further to explain that the prolonged exposure to chemicals has serious implications for human health, and that these practices persist largely due to their profitability. He concludes by suggesting a reevaluation and revamping of our presently unsustainable and harmful chemical policy.

Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, discusses one of the wettest fall seasons on record for New England

As meteorological winter begins this week, climate scientists at UMass Amherst observe that the fall season just ended – September through November – was the wettest fall ever recorded at the Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, the second wettest in Worcester and Providence, Rhode Island and the fourth wettest in Boston, according to National Weather Service observations. Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, and a colleague add that observations show total precipitation at Amherst from January through November was the second highest recorded there since observations began in 1836. The record highest amount fell in 1888. For the current January through November period, 59.02 inches of precipitation was recorded in Amherst, just 1.1 inches shy of that. Coverage can be found on WAMC, WBUR, and in the Republican.

Elsbeth L. Walker, 2018 PEP Fellow, is featured in a MassLive story about the response to a Chinese scientist's genetically modified babies.

Elsbeth L. Walker, 2018 PEP Fellow, is featured in a MassLive news story about how she discussed with her students the news that a scientist in China had genetically modified babies. Walker, who uses the same type of gene-editing equipment on plants that the Chinese scientist used to alter the human genes, says she is worried. "We cannot do experiments on human beings. I feel this was an experiment. Other scientists could go ahead with other genetic modifications and create changes that could have unintended consequences," Walker says. Madelaine Bartlett, biology, shares those concerns. She says the science has potential, but, "We don't launch into things thoughtlessly and carelessly."

PEP Steering Committee Member, Amy Schalet, quoted in Cosmopolitan article on government funding of abstinence-only education and its impact

PEP Steering Committee Member, Amy Schalet, was quoted in Cosmopolitan article on government funding of abstinence-only education and its impact. The article outlines how state and federally funded abstinence-only sex education provides young men and women with not only incomplete information about sexual health, but also creates anxiety and fear about bodies and sexuality. Schalet comments that teaching girls to be passive about their sexual desires and needs "makes them vulnerable to a whole bunch of things that are not good for their sexual health." She concludes by adding these same teachings also normalize aggression in boys, and reinforces idea that boys are not responsible for their sexual behaviors. 

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