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 Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp co-authors Guardian column arguing that public attitude towards immigrants is less hostile than the Trump administration suggests

Linda R. Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, is co-author of a column in The Guardian that says the attitude of the public in the U.S. toward immigrants is much less hostile than is reflected in moves by the Trump administration such as changing the mission statement of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to remove the phrase that we are a “nation of immigrants.” Discussing a series of actions and studies on beliefs that show widespread support for U.S. immigrants, the authors argue that these examples "uphold our nation’s values and reflect the best of who we are as a country, while our federal immigration policies are seeking to close doors and build walls. One of the best ways to honor our values as a nation is not to close opportunities to immigrants, but to successfully integrate them into the fabric of our society."

2018 PEP Fellow Karen Kurczynski discusses the work of Danish artist Asger Jorn for the the Cobra Museum for Modern Art

On Friday, February 16, Karen Kurczynski, 2018 PEP Fellow, participated via Skype as a panelist in a public forum on the uses of humor and irony in contemporary art held at the Cobra Museum for Modern Art, Amstelveen, the Netherlands. She explained how the comical juxtapositions of different characters in Danish artist Asger Jorn's (1914-1973) colorful paintings, with ironic titles such as A Soul for Sale or The Avant-Garde Won't Give Up, convey the ways meaning is interpreted differently by different audiences. Kurczynski argues that his representation of playful figures in humorous situations also makes audiences more aware of power relationships at work in the broader society. 

2015 PEP Fellow Lisa E. Chasan-Taber discusses tips on successful grant writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Lisa E. Chasan-Taber, 2015 PEP Fellow, writes an essay on tips for successful grant writing for early-career faculty in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Among the ideas she proposes are starting small and early rather than trying for a big grant right away, watch what other ideas get funded, focus on the aims section of the application first and use lots of figures and tables. She also says it’s important to dream big, even if that project is somewhat off in the distance. 

2018 PEP Fellow Elizabeth Evans' study on how childhood adversity increases the risk of alcohol and drug use disorders for veterans receives wide coverage

Results of a national study covered in Business WestScience Newsline, the Republican, and WFCR by 2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, with others at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the University of California, Los Angeles, suggest that risk for alcohol and drug use disorders among United States military veterans is increased by childhood adversity, in ways that are different between women and men and different compared to the civilian population.

2017 PEP Fellow Julie Brigham-Grette discusses ice obstructions that can cause flooding and damage in the Republican and on Western Mass News.

Julie Brigham-Grette, 2017 PEP Fellow, explains how chunks of ice in local rivers can build up under the surface of the water and create what is called a "keel" in the RepublicanSuch an obstruction can cause flooding or can cause damage when it breaks apart due to warming and sends ice and high waters downstream, she says. Brigham-Grette also comments in a Western Mass News story about “frazil ice,” semi-frozen water that can build up on ice jams and cause flooding and other damage. 

2018 PEP Fellow Donald Tomaskovic-Devey is interviewed by Northwest Public Television about the lack of diversity in oil companies

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow, comments in a story for Northwest Public Television about the lack of diversity in the workforce of oil companies. “For both women and for African-Americans, they tend to be among the worst performing in terms of both pay gaps and employment representation,” he says. He also says some companies are more diverse than others. “The key thing to understand is when diversity is a managerial priority, it happens,” Tomaskovic-Devey says. 

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