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.

PEP Fellows Matt Lackner and Erin Baker discuss the wind energy industry's expansion on the East Coast in The Conversation

Matthew A. Lackner and Erin D. Baker, 2018 and 2017 PEP Fellows, write an essay in The Conversation about why the wind energy industry is about to vastly expand and why Massachusetts is one of the states that is leading the way. They say market forces are helping the development of offshore wind energy and states on the East Coast are preparing long-range plans to develop wind energy to replace fossil fuel and nuclear power generation.

PEP Steering Committee Member, M.V. Lee Badgett, comments about the correlation between the GDP and LGBTQ acceptance in MetroWeekly

M.V. Lee Badgett, PEP Steering Committee Member, comments in MetroWeekly about a study that found there is a correlation between a country’s GDP per capita and LGBTQ acceptance. She says programs and policies that reduce violence stigma and discrimination and improve education and health care allow LGBT people to realize their full economic potential and that boosts the overall economy.

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp's paper on the racial and economic contexts of Trump support is cited in the NY Times

A paper co-authored by Linda R. Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, on the resistance of white Americans to accepting racial minorities, is cited in a column in The New York Times about the appeal President Donald Trump has to this group of voters. The authors find that "neighborhood-level exposure to racial and ethnic minorities predicts greater group threat and racial identification among Whites as well as greater intentions to vote for Trump in the general election."

2018 PEP Fellow Elsbeth Walker receives a three year $870,000 NSF grant for her research on how plants control iron in their systems

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 molecular biologist Elsbeth Walker at UMass Amherst. “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: SeedquestPhys.org

2015 PEP Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta discusses her research on the benefits of having women mentors for young women entering STEM fields with NSF

Nilanjana Dasgupta, 2015 PEP Fellow, describes her research with the National Science Foundation on psychological and learning environmental characteristics that influence young women to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in college. She says having women models and mentors are key elements in getting young women into the STEM fields.

2016 PEP Fellow Miliann Kang discusses the increase in awareness of the needs of children with disabilities in Korea Times

Miliann Kang, 2016 PEP Fellow, writes a column in Korea Times comparing her experiences at the Special Olympics in 1988 and this 2018. Both were held in South Korea. She says people have become much more aware of the needs of children with disabilities and this is reflected in more attention being paid to the Special Olympics. However, Kang argues there still needs to be policy changes to promote full accessibility for people with disabilities in Korea, and worldwide. 

PEP Steering Committee members Jenny Ross and Laurel Smith-Doerr and colleagues discuss strengthening NSF proposals with effective broader impacts at a faculty workshop on 3/28

Interested in strengthening your NSF proposal with effective broader impacts? PEP Steering Committee members Jenny Ross and Laurel Smith-Doerr and colleagues will present their experiences with developing, carrying out, and evaluating projects that address broader impact goals at a faculty workshop on Wednesday, March 28th from 3-4:30pm in LSL South 330-340 (Conference Center). More details and registration information available here.