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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PEP Co-Directors write paper for Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy on how researchers can improve their public engagement

Former PEP Director, Amy Schalet along with PEP Co-Directors, Linda Tropp and Lisa Troy, co-authored a paper entitled, “Making Research Usable beyond Academic Circles: A Relational Model of Public Engagement,” for Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy outlining a new pathway for researchers seeking to share their research with non-academic audiences, such as journalists, policymakers, practitioners and advocates. They urge scholars to engage in relationship building and mutual learning, as well as partnership during the dissemination of research in order to give it salience and practical value to non-academic audiences. Read more here.

Jamie Rowan, 2020 PEP Fellow, wrote an article in the Conversation describing risks to military veterans during the coronavirus pandemic

Jamie Rowan, 2020 PEP Fellow, has written an article published in The Conversation and Truthout describing the ways that military veterans are particularly at risk from the coronavirus pandemic. Veterans, she writes, are particularly susceptible to both health and economic threats from the pandemic, and “face homelessness, lack of health care, delays in receiving financial support and even death.” 

Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, writes op-ed for Environmental Health News on the disconnect between government and science during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thomas Zoeller, 2016 PEP Fellow, discusses the disconnect between government and science and the delay in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in an Environmental Health News op-ed. Zoeller explains that while the coronavirus crisis is the most recent example of government limiting the impact of science in public health decisions, this practice is not new.

Elizabeth M. Schmidt, 2019 PEP Fellow, interviewed on WGBY Connecting Point about how COVID-19 is changing charitable giving.

Elizabeth M. Schmidt, 2019 PEP Fellow, says the societal changes cause by the response to COVID-19 are changing charitable giving. Speaking on WGBY's local public affairs program “Connecting Point,” Schmidt says it appears that wealthy people are giving more, but that it’s too soon to tell what the overall trend will be, considering that there are also many people losing their jobs.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, co-authors Conversation article about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on service workers

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, and several colleagues write an article in The Conversation outlining how the recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is impacting service workers. They explain these workers will be hit hard and are least equipped to deal with job loss or the risk of infection from remaining on the job. They conclude with recommendations for assisting those workers most at risk such as living wage and universal health care. Article reprinted in Santa Ynez Valley NewsStamford Advocate and

2020 PEP Fellow, Rebecca Ready, writes column in Psychology Today about loneliness in older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic

2020 PEP Fellow, Rebecca, Ready, writes column in Psychology Today explaining that contrary to popular belief, older adults are no more lonely than younger or mid-life adults. Reducing social contact during the COVID-19 crisis is essential for older adults whom are most vulnerable to virus, but Ready explains that once it ends, they will likely pick up where they left off socially.

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, co-authored NCME statement on College Admissions Testing

2016 PEP Fellow, Stephen Sireci, co-authored a National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) statement in response to a lawsuit brought against the University of California system for its use of college admissions exams. The statement concludes that, "[rather] than limiting the types of information college admissions officers can use, we encourage proper use and interpretation of all data associated with college readiness...".

2016 PEP Fellow, Stephen Sireci, interviewed on CNBC story about SAT lawsuit

2016 PEP Fellow, Stephen Sireci, interviewed on CNBC news story about a group of students suing The University of California system over its use of SAT and ACT in admissions decisions. Sireci explains that these college admissions tests are "used to provide information to admissions officers to learn more about the people applying to their college."

PEP Co-Directors Hold Public Engagement Workshop at 2020 SPSP Annual Convention

PEP Co-Directors, Linda Tropp and Ezra Markowitz, conducted a public engagement workshop titled "Strategic Public Engagement for Social Psychologists" at the 2020 annual convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). This workshop, held on February 29th, was designed to help social psychologists, at any career stage, contribute to the public good by cultivating engagement skills like goal setting, network mapping, message development and effective strategies for communicating with non-academics.