This Week at the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences: December 9-15, 2017

James Young UMass AmherstJames E. Young, Distinguished University Professor of English and Judaic and Near Eastern Studies
Friday, December 15, 2017

Faculty at the UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences undertake research to engage the most pressing issues of our time. Our faculty are often called upon by press for their expertise. Below is a summary of the accomplishments, publications, and interviews of our faculty this past week.

Study: New York behind on clean energy investments
A recent report done by the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass Amherst says the state of New York would need to commit $31 billion per year in clean energy investment to meet the state’s green energy target by 2030. Robert N. Pollin, Distinguished Professor in economics and co-director at PERI, says state policymakers need to be more serious about meeting their goals. (WRVO)

Report from AnthropologyCon: Designing Games for Classrooms and Research
Krista M. Harper, anthropology, and Marc Lorenc, a doctoral student, were part of a team that recently conducted a game design workshop in Washington, D.C. called AnthropologyCon. It involves game making that serves as part of teaching and research. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Trump just shut down Tillerson’s attempt to talk with North Korea — again
Paul Musgrave, political science, comments in a news story about how President Donald J. Trump and Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state, are saying different and contradictory things about dealing with North Korea. “Pyongyang speaks with one voice. The United States is speaking with many and conflicting voices. So whom should the North Koreans – or other interested parties – take their cue from when trying to discern U.S. policy?” Musgrave asks. (Vox)

For clean air, India needs a policy leap
Shouvik Chakraborty, Political Economy Research Institute, is co-author of a column that calls for creation of a carbon tax system to help India achieve cleaner air and better health for its citizens. (The Hindu)

Plame plays defense: Protesters lash out at ex-spy during panel talk at Smith College
Paul Musgrave, political science, was a panelist during a presentation by former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson on the relationship between foreign policy and social media at Smith College on Dec. 13. Musgrave cautioned against overestimating social media’s role in foreign policy, and that “you should understand social media’s use as a message in itself.” (Gazette)

Activist groups are ‘amateurizing’ our political candidates
Ray La Raja, political science, is the co-author of a new report that examines how activist groups are re-engineering politics on both the left and the right. (Brookings)

Letter: Taxing carbon polluters would be boon for state
A letter to the editor concerning a proposed carbon tax in New York cites a commentary on the subject by Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor in economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute. (Times-Union)

124 Jewish Studies scholars on Trump's Jerusalem declaration
James Young, Distinguished Professor emeritus in English and Judaic and Near Eastern studies, is among 124 Jewish scholars from across the nation who signed an open letter opposing President Donald J. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.(

Jason Kamilar Appointed Editor-in-Chief of Evolutionary Anthropology
Jason Kamilar, assistant professor of anthropology, has been appointed the new editor-in-chief of Evolutionary Anthropology, a peer-reviewed academic journal focusing on current issues in biological anthropology, paleontology, archaeology, primatology, genetics, human ecology and other areas pertinent to understanding human evolution in a broad perspective. (SBS News)

Kevin Young uses data to pinpoint how corporations gain political advantage
Kevin Young, political science, has been named a Spotlight Scholar by Umass's Research Next for his work and expertise on the politics of financial regulation and the role of private interests in influencing regulatory policy. (SBS News and Research Next)

In other news....

The best architecture of 2017: buildings of quiet ambition
A feature story on the best architecture of 2017 in the Wall Street Journal includes the John W. Olver Design Building at UMass Amherst, describing it as a forerunner for wood structure that are taller than 85 feet. The new building features cross-laminated timber. “The Design Building is helping to lay the foundations for the smart use of mass timber in ways that will soon enrich, and transform our environment,” the story says. (Wall Street Journal)

UMass Amherst launches 1-year Master’s in Public Policy degree
In 2018, the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy (SPP) will launch a one-year degree option for students interested in earning a master’s in public policy (MPP). The new degree option builds on the success of other master’s programs offered by the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy, including a two-year master’s program that allows for more specialized studies, and an accelerated program for students enrolled at one of the member campuses of the Five Colleges consortium. The new program will enable students to complete part of the degree online. (SBS News)