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.

Donald T. Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in the Times of San Diego on a new study of voting patterns among the 50 states

Donald T. Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in the Times of San Diego on a new study of the 50 states in the U.S. that shows the states that are the most diverse tend to vote Democratic while the least diverse tend to vote Republican. He says, "Growing diversity is almost always a sign of increased economic vitality," especially in major cities, with immigration contributing to growth. He also says migrants tend to increase the opportunities and earnings of natives, except for native black and white men with less than a high-school degree. 

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee member, discusses Indian economic losses due to discriminatory law in the Business Times and NDTV News.

M.V. Lee Badgett,  PEP Steering Committee member, says in the Business Times and NDTV News, the Indian economy has been losing as much as 1.4 percent of its national output because of laws that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. The estimate is this represents about $26 billion per year. The Indian Supreme Court recently struck down laws that criminalized homosexuality. The move is expected to boost economic activity in the hotel and tourism sectors and promote more multinational business ventures.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elsbeth Walker, awarded a three-year, $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics program.

A decade or so ago, scientists discovered genes they thought could be turned on to make plants take up more iron from the soil, enriching cereals, grains and other staple foods that feed millions of people around the world an iron-poor diet leading to iron deficiency anemia, says 2018 PEP Fellow, Elsbeth Walker. "But it didn't work," she adds. "Somehow the plants downregulated our efforts, and we don't understand how." Now Walker has a three-year, $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics program to learn how plants thwarted those past efforts and further, how plants firmly control iron in their systems. They have good reason for this, she adds, because iron is a highly reactive metal that can damage their tissues. Read more here.

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, discusses Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings in the Times.

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, says in Times, Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, is avoiding answering questions during his confirmation hearings in a predictable pattern. He also says it is odd that Kavanaugh hasn't recused himself from any possible decisions about Trump's assertion of executive power to issue pardons or to impede the special counsel's investigation into the 2016 campaign. "It seems clear to me that it is inappropriate for the president to be able to select a judge who may decide his fate and there is case law that supports this view. For a judge who claims to care a lot about precedent, there is a problem here," Collins says. Also featured in Star Tribune

2015 PEP Fellow, Paul M. Collins interviewed on CNN about President Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh

Paul M. Collins, a 2015 PEP Fellow, is interviewed on CNN about what questions are likely to be put to Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins says in addition to questions about his views on abortion, Kavanaugh will face close scrutiny about whether and how much he believes the president should be subject to investigation by the courts and Congress. Collins also says if Kavanaugh is confirmed to serve on the court, the chief justice, John Roberts, is likely to become the swing vote on a much more conservative court.

2016 PEP Fellow, Stephen G. Sireci, comments in Newsday about security for the SAT tests and administration of the crucial college entrance tool

2016 PEP Fellow, Stephen G. Sireci, comments in Newsday about loose security for the SAT tests and a second consecutive botched administration of the crucial college entrance tool. Copies of the latest tests, given last week, were available online and have called into question whether the results are credible. "With high-stakes tests like the SAT, social media has to be monitored these days to see what is getting out," he says. He says a better way to run the test is to offer adaptive, computerized tests that reduce how many people see the questions and allow for more questions to be used.

2015 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth L. Krause, interviewed on Bloomberg about her recent book "Made in Italy"

Elizabeth L. Krause, 2015 PEP fellow, is interviewed on Bloomberg Daybreak Asia about her recent book "Made in Italy," where she looks at how Chinese immigrant workers in Italy took over large parts of the fashion industry in that country. She says a key to their success is an entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to be self-exploitive in their work ethic.

PEP Steering Committee Member M.V. Lee Badgett co-authors an opinion column in Houston Chronicle on likelihood of LGBT discrimination protecting coming from Congress.

An opinion column in the Houston Chronicle co-authored by PEP steering committee member, M.V. Lee Badgett and several colleagues, says it's unlikely the current U.S. Congress will pass a law protecting LGBT people from sex discrimination when they marry or reveal their sexual orientation, so any such protection will have to come from the U.S. Supreme Court.