The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Social Science Matters

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is home to a broad range of approaches to social science, all of which we celebrate, from purely theoretical and interpretive research to all manner of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. One of our priorities is to ensure that this exciting social science research connects with the public while showing the relevance of the social sciences to everyday lives and policy.

The Social Science Matters series showcases the contributions of various social science disciplines to pressing current societal issues. The series demonstrate the cross-disciplinary connections within and beyond the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and has covered topics such as inequality and resistance in past iterations.

The upcoming theme from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020 will be Critical Issues for the 2020 Election Cycle and will feature experts discussing policy and intellectual questions around immigration, health care, and other timely and relevant topics. We will be joined by a variety of speakers from across the country who will offer their valuable insights through a series of engaging panels.

American Health Policy in 2020: A Pivotal Year for Change?

Date: Thursday, October 15
Time: 5:30pm to 6:30pm (ET)
Location: Zoom (online)


Even before the pandemic, healthcare was commonly listed by Americans as one of the most pressing concerns for US policy reform. After the last six months of COVID-19 and with the upcoming November election, the topic is now seen as critical among the American public.

Join our faculty experts on October 15 for a discussion of the following themes:

  • Healthcare costs
  • Disparities in quality of care and access
  • Supply chain bottlenecks and shortages
  • Additional implications from COVID-19
  • Proposed changes to healthcare policies

Questions may be submitted upon registering; our panel will do their best to respond to as many as possible.

Featured panelists:

  • Airín Martínez, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health and Health Sciences
  • Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of Economics & Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI)
  • Manasvini SinghAssistant Professor of Resource Economics

Politics During the Pandemic: Insights from UMass Poll

Date: Wednesday, August 26
Time: 5:30pm to 6:30pm (ET)
Location: Zoom (online)


Today more than ever, there are clashes of opinion on topics such as healthcare, the economy, and social justice issues. Impeding conversations are mixed “truths” shared through a variety of media channels. So, where does information come from and what should you know about the upcoming elections?

Tune in on August 26 for a discussion featuring SBS experts in polling, public opinion, and politics. They will discuss critical topics including:

  • Predictions for the November elections nationwide
  • The debate around mail-in voting
  • The economy and state senate races

Submit questions upon registering and the panel will do their best to respond to as many as possible.

Featured panelists:

  • Stephanie Murray '17, POLITICO Massachusetts Playbook Author
  • Tatishe Nteta, Associate Professor of Political Science & Director of UMass Poll
  • Jesse Rhodes, Chair and Professor of Political Science & Associate Director of UMass Poll

How to Submit a Speaker or Event Suggestion

We welcome suggestions from SBS faculty members for next year’s series. Suggestions are reviewed by the SBS Leadership Council and SBS Chairs. Your nomination can be for a specific speaker or for a panel featuring 2-3 speakers on a particular topic to be debated. Criteria for successful submission are as follows:

  1. The speaker should be a high-profile, scholarly social scientist who is very well known across disciplines.
  2. The proposed event should draw a large multi-disciplinary audience, also attracting students and community members.  
  3. Relevance and importance of speaker/topic
  4. Ability to articulate the contributions of social science in an engaging way
  5. The speaker or event will be co-hosted across at least two SBS departments

Submit A Speaker