The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Hussein Abdi, a junior UMass Amherst Political Science major and advocate for increasing voter turnout, is one of the candidates for an open seat on the Springfield City Council. Abdi is the founder of 413Vote. (MassLive)

Amber Vayo, Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at UMass Amherst, writes in Ms. Magazine about hospitals pushing pregnant women into unnecessary cesarean sections through policies known as vaginal-birth-after-cesarean. Vayo is specializing in reproductive justice and public law. (Ms. Magazine, 2/25/21)

Nationally-ranked soccer player and UMass alumna Briana Scurry is profiled in a women’s success feature in Face 2 Face Africa.  Scurry remains the only Black female soccer player to be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. She has been immortalized in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in different capacities, notably among the Title IX exhibit.  Scurry earned an athletic scholarship to UMass Amherst and majored in political science. While in college, Scurry was the 1993 National Collegiate Goalkeeper of the Year. (Face 2 Face Africa, 2/25/21)

Roger Lau, a 2000 graduate of the UMass Amherst Department of Political Science, has been hired to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) leadership team. Lau managed Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 democratic presidential campaign. “The Democratic Party is stronger today thanks to the thousands of campaign staffers that [Roger Lau] has hired, trained, and mentored,” Senator Warren said in a tweet about Lau’s hiring.

Amel Ahmed writes in an op-ed that to secure an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. it is not enough just to fight discrimination. The government needs to take steps to make voting easier. She writes, "A truly progressive agenda would treat voting rights like economic rights, which also are not guaranteed in the Constitution, but have been earned through decades of struggle." (Washington Monthly, 2/25/2021)

Last month, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that addresses sexual violence at colleges and universities by strengthening support services for survivors. It also creates a task force to develop a student survey on campus sexual assault, to be taken biennially at schools statewide. For Liana Ascolese, the law’s passage was the culmination of years of hard work by her and a dedicated group of fellow advocates — work that she began while a graduate student at the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy. Today, Ascolese —who studied political science as a UMass undergraduate before receiving her master’s from SPP in 2017 — is the national legislative director of the Every Voice Coalition, which works on legislation to address the pervasive problem of sexual assaults of college students. She balances her Every Voice role with a full-time position at SBDigital, a Washington, DC-based communications firm that works with progressive organizations and candidates - (Read more)

Paul Musgrave, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, writes in an opinion piece that the symbolism of America’s currency is outdated and lacking in diversity, especially when compared to the currency of other nations. “The designs could be refreshed to include a wider range of U.S. accomplishment, having Harriet Tubman joined by cultural figures like James Baldwin, political trailblazers like Dalip Singh Saund and scientists like Sally Ride, would better reflect this sprawling, dynamic country,” Musgrave writes. (Foreign Policy, 2/9/21; Coin World, 2/22/21)

With a large number of federal judges announcing their plans to step down over the past several weeks, President Biden is gaining an opportunity to leave his mark. Already, 39 judges on the federal circuit courts and trial courts have announced plans to vacate their seats in the wake of the inauguration, either by retiring or taking senior status. Sheldon Goldman, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at UMass Amherst, told CBS News, “Several of the circuit courts and district courts have been understaffed, and they’ve been able to get by with senior judges, but a number of the senior judges really don’t want to have to work as much as they need to.” (CBS News, USA News Hub, 2/19/21)

Online Dispute Resolution Forum 2021 Virtual Gathering March 1st-2nd 10am-1pm & 4pm-7pm EST (U.S). 

The National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution is hosting its annual international Online Dispute Resolution Forum. This spring it will be a two day online conference in part to celebrate the new edition of the seminal volume of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) scholarship, ODR Theory and Practice. The agenda will feature many of the authors of chapters in the new book, as well as a deep dive on AI, Dispute System Design, and ODR. Check out the agenda for the ODR Forum. 

Some highlights include: A Keynote on Artificial Intelligence (AI), bias, and ODR, the first readout from a Pew-funded academic ODR research project (the University of Arizona’s Innovation for Justice Program); a talk from the CEO of Niti Aayog, the policy think tank of the Government of India that is leading the charge on Republic of India’s national ODR rollout; alongside many other presentations from the global leaders in ODR.

We hope to see you there! To register (for free) and add your name to the mailing list, please fill out this form.

Justin Gross, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is interviewed about changes in the right-wing of the Republican Party. Gross says, “We have been witnessing a gradual radicalization on the right over the course of the past two decades, accelerating after certain key moments, especially with the Tea Party movement and then even more so over the course of the Trump presidency.” (The Reminder, 2/15/21)