This Week at the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences: December 16-23, 2017

Paul MusgravePaul Musgrave / Photo credit: Ebru Kardan
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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.

State parks boost Long Island’s economy, report says
A news story says that parks on Long Island in New York have expanded the regional economy between April 2015 and March 2016 as visitors spent millions of dollars and the parks supported thousands of jobs, according to a new report from the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass Amherst. (Newsday)

Trump is being tricked into keeping Obama programs he hates
Paul Musgrave, political science, comments in a story about how President Donald J. Trump and his administration are facing some pushback from federal agencies where officials don’t accept Trump’s views on key issues such as climate change. Musgrave says it serves Trump well to be able to complain about the “deep state” and entrenched bureaucrats that aren’t working for the public good. “I don’t think Trump actually takes this seriously. It is a convenient crutch for him. In fact, the biggest problem seems to be a lack of engagement with the bureaucracy,” he says. (Newsweek)

Reddit was a misinformation hotspot in 2016 election, study says
A news analysis of political misinformation that populated the social media site Reddit during the 2016 political campaign notes that researchers Rishab Nithyandand, along with UMass Amherst’s Brian F. Schaffner, political science, and Phillipa Gill, computer science, conducted a study of the Reddit traffic. (C/net)

Workplace diversity in the oil industry
Donald T. Tomaskovic-Devey, sociology, comments in a story 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. (Northwest Public Television)

Zheng He's voyages and the symbolism behind Xi Jinping's belt and road initiative
Paul Musgrave, political science, co-authors an analysis of Chinse President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative in Asia and Africa and parallels to Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He, who led treasure fleets to Southeast Asia, India and Africa as part of an effort by Emperor Yongle to legitimize his throne by having foreign rulers recognize his superiority in return for gifts. “Xi has staked significant political capital on his ability to shepherd China’s emergence as a world power. There’s an irony that the treasure fleets—an effort to bolster the legitimacy of a ruler worried about his job security—now underpin a mythology legitimating a similar effort,” write Musgrave and co-author David Nexon of Georgetown University. “Demonstrating his success to domestic audiences requires visible steps that garner corresponding recognition—both welcoming and wary—from abroad.” (The Diplomat)