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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Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, answers questions about a temporary expanded child tax credit included in the COVID relief package passed by Congress

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, answers questions about a temporary expanded child tax credit included in the COVID relief package passed by Congress. Misra says the new program, which is similar to programs common in other countries, builds on existing law that reduces the tax burden for families with children, and some experts predict it could cut the child poverty rate in half. Read more at The Conversation and The Houston Chronicle.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, is quoted in an article exploring the impacts the COVID pandemic has had on American life

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, is quoted in an article exploring the impacts the COVID pandemic has had on American life. “The pandemic has really revealed how much we rely on these kind of basic service workers, like the manufacturing workers in food plants and the truck drivers who deliver our goods and services, and I’m hoping this kind of general cultural recognition that these are in fact essential workers will increase the degree to which they are treated with respect by their employers,” he says. Read more from the Albuquerque Journal and Yahoo!News.

Paul Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, is quoted in an article about the increase in amicus briefs that are flooding the U.S. Supreme Court advocating for specific outcomes in high profile cases

Paul Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, is quoted in an article about the increase in amicus briefs that are flooding the U.S. Supreme Court advocating for specific outcomes in high profile cases. Collins explains how wealthy individuals and corporations are easily skirting rules that say briefs must disclose if they were funded by a party to the case or its lawyer, or whether anyone other than an outside group’s member or attorney contributed money to their preparation. Read more from The Wall Street Journal.

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, is interviewed in a radio program as a follow-up to her Feb. 22 article in The Conversation about proposals to reduce child poverty by instituting government payments to parents

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow, is interviewed in a radio program as a follow-up to her Feb. 22 article in The Conversation about proposals to reduce child poverty by instituting government payments to parents. Misra says, “Poverty is enormously costly. When children are raised in poverty there are long-term outcomes that the government is always having to address.” Listen to more of the interview at WNHN, New Hampshire, starting at 33:00.

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, recently published an Op-Ed on confronting the infodemic

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, recently published an Op-Ed on confronting the infodemic. Greyson explained that in the spring of 2020, along with announcing the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO organization also announced an infodemic surrounding misinformation on the pandemic. In regards to moving away from a similar response to vaccinations, Greyson said, "Recognizing that COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy may be stoked by misinformation, disinformation, and lack of trust is key to addressing it in ways that successfully build confidence in the vaccines that are our best hope at a return to normal life." Read more at The Globe and Mail

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow and Laurel Smith-Doerr, PEP Steering Committee Member, were recently quoted in an article on faculty burnout

Joya Misra, 2021 PEP Fellow and Laurel Smith-Doerr, PEP Steering Committee Member, were recently quoted in an article on faculty burnout. At Massachusetts, the Advance program and an Amherst sociologist are proposing a de-identified study of the Covid-19-impact feedback submitted by faculty members. Experts also say it’s not enough to just tell instructors to catalog consequences. Amherst held workshops for department chairs and for personnel committee members on how to evaluate people fairly, because “the last thing we would want is for those statements to then activate bias against people,” says Joya Misra, a co-principal investigator with the Amherst Advance program.  Laurel Smith-Doerr explains that it’s important for instructors to document Covid-19’s impact. That way evaluators can pinpoint faculty needs, at an aggregate level, and what the campus should be attending to, says Smith-Doerr. Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about state-level educational testing options and decisions

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about state-level educational testing options and decisions. Sireci explains that states could provide shorter exams to students around the start of the next school year to enable a more nimble and useful assessment system. Such truncated exams, he added, should focus as much as possible on what educators know students have actually been taught in a disrupted year. Read more at Education Week.

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, was recently interviewed about vaccination rates among people of color

Devon Greyson, 2021 PEP Fellow, was recently interviewed about vaccination rates among people of color. “It's understandable why individuals and communities that have been mistreated by medicine or the government might have extra questions about whether or not to accept a new vaccine,” Greyson said. Greyson explains partnering with Black and Latino community leaders can help foster trust and access. “The leaders who are health care providers or who cross over into health care as social workers, or religious leaders, let them take the lead in shaping the way in which we are distributing vaccines and vaccine information to their communities because they are the trusted go-betweens,” Greyson said. Read or listen to this NPR interview here.

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about Biden's middle ground on school testing

Stephen Sireci, 2016 PEP Fellow, was recently quoted in an article about Biden's middle ground on school testing. Sireci explains that the Biden guidance is a sign that the federal government is moving away from a rigid approach to educational testing. He says, "We're starting to see the dismantling of the No Child Left Behind, end-of-year summative assessment model... It's 20 years old. It's time for a change." Read more at Bloomberg Government

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In appreciation of their generous support, the UMass Public Engagement Project would like to thank the Office of the ProvostUniversity Relations, and the Colleges of Natural SciencesSocial and Behavioral Sciences Humanities and Fine ArtsEngineeringPublic Health and Health Sciences, and Education.  The UMass Public Engagement Project also recognizes and appreciates in-kind contributions and collaborations with the Center for Research on Families and the Institute for Social Science Research