Faculty News

Public Engagement in 2021

Public Engagement in 2021

U-M Social’s Public Engagement & Impact efforts significantly elevated their reach in 2021. Through popular established projects such as the Michigan Minds podcast and the Wolverine Caucus events—and also through new outlets including a live panel series, the revamped Michigan Impact monthly e-newsletter, daily external media spotlights featuring faculty, and more— Public Engagement continued to bring to life the breadth and depth of faculty expertise at the University of Michigan.

With more than 43,000 podcast listens of the 98 episodes published, more than 4,000 views of crucial conversations, more than 100,000 e-newsletter opens, and countless engagements with social media highlighting faculty work and thought leadership — our communities remained updated and informed on the immense breadth of faculty expertise and commitment to enhancing the public good.

Here are some Public Engagement & Impact highlights from 2021: 

Michigan Minds 

With 98 episodes published featuring 106 faculty members, Michigan Minds continued to grow in popularity, reach, and impact. Now in its fifth season, the faculty podcast amplifies the crucial research being conducted at U-M and demonstrates the dedication our faculty have to serving our communities through public engagement. In 2021, there were more than 43,000 downloads and streams of the podcast on a range of topics including the role and responsibilities of social media, drug therapies to combat COVID-19, and racism and mental health. 

Collaborative Series 

To emphasize the importance of topics such as COVID-19 and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Public Engagement & Impact coordinated and collaborated with units across campus to create special series of Michigan Minds episodes:

  • COVID-19: Variants, Vaccines, and Various Impacts of the Ongoing Pandemic
    More than 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, questions continue to arise about mutation rates of the virus, vaccination, and mitigation measures. Experts from across the university share their insights on the transmission and mutation of the virus, vaccinations and booster shots, the necessity of masking, drug therapies to treat the virus, prevention measures for children, and more. 
  • Firearm Injury Prevention
    As the University of Michigan launched the new Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention in 2021 to generate knowledge and advance innovation solutions that reduce firearm injury — a public health crisis that leads to more than 100 deaths per day across the US — Public Engagement & Impact spoke experts from the Institute on their research studying school safety, safe firearm storage in rural communities, interventions in the emergency room, youth violence prevention, risk assesments, safety programs to reduce youth suicide, and the role of art and design in generating awareness and impact. 
  • Women in STEM
    To highlight the critical role that women and girls play in science and technology, Public Engagement & Impact talked with several women working in STEM fields at U-M. From studying mathematical models to treat cancer, to natural language processing, to firearm injury prevention and so much more, the breadth and depth of impactful research conducted by women in STEM at U-M has significant impact. 
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month
    Through education, empowerment, and support, the U-M community is committed to creating a protective environment for survivors of sexual assault and providing essential resources to everyone who needs them. This series features experts from University Health Service (UHS), Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS), Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Center (SAPAC), and Michigan Medicine. Hear how you can help reduce stigma and prevent violence, and learn about the resources available to help survivors heal.

Listen to the top episodes of Michigan Minds

Crucial Conversations 

Recognizing the need for transparent conversations around health disparities and social inequities, disproportionate impacts of the pandemic, climate change, and mental health, Public Engagement & Impact launched a new live panel conversation series. Crucial Conversations featured faculty experts, graduate students, and undergraduate students having transparent discussions about these issues and more, sharing their expertise and personal experiences. The series of four events had more than 1,100 live viewers, and the recordings of the conversations have been viewed an additional 3,000 total times. Additionally, Public Engagement & Impact published a recap article for each conversation, which reached 2,000 viewers.  

Michigan Impact 

The Michigan Impact newsletter has provided updates to legislators, alumni, and other interested stakeholders throughout the state of Michigan for nearly eight years. In October 2021, in collaboration with the U-M Office of Government Relations, Public Engagement & Impact led the revitalization of the newsletter introducing a new template, improving mechanism for tracking opens and interactions with emails, and increasing the publication timeline from quarterly to monthly in order to maintain a sustainable dialogue with audiences and maximize the amount of impactful content shared with our communities. The first three newsletters have been opened over 100,000 times. 

2021 A Year of Michigan Impact


Wolverine Caucus

In continued collaboration with Government Relations, Public Engagement & Impact helped plan, promote, and provide written and video recaps for virtual Wolverine Caucus events in 2021. Interacting with Wolverine Caucus members and expanding the reach of the programs, the diverse forums provide valuable insights for communities from the world-class talents of U-M faculty. View the Wolverine Caucus events from this year: 

Faculty testifying 

With more than a dozen faculty members testifying before congress in 2021, federal lawmakers continue to seek out U-M faculty to lend their expertise and knowledge to help inform federal policies. Testifying before congressional committees is one way for faculty to engage with the federal legislative process. Elevating their knowledge and advocacy efforts help inform community members about their commitment to impact positive change in Ann Arbor, throughout Michigan, across the nation, and around the globe. 









President’s Awards for Public Engagement 

The President’s Awards for Public Engagement recognize U-M faculty members’ commitment and contributions to significantly impact society through national and state leadership service and efforts to address the challenges our communities face every day. 

From encouraging nominations to amplifying the work of the winners, Public Engagement & Impact works closely with the Office of the President to elevate the importance of faculty public engagement and celebrate those who are dedicated to serving the people of Michigan and the world through exceptional education, research, and scholarship provided to our communities to enhance the public good.

Below are some of the articles about the President’s Awards for Public Engagement in 2021:

The Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship 

In its second year, the Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship stewarded by the Center for Academic Innovation in partnership with public engagement units across campus, continued to foster faculty engagement at U-M. Public Engagement & Impact works in close collaboration with the Center for Academic Innovation, encouraging applicants and implementing engagement projects directly with fellows. By serving on the advisory board and speaking at studio experience sessions, Public Engagement & Impact staff play an important role in helping faculty conduct effective public engagement work.

In the 2021 cohort, there are 17 faculty supported through the Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship. Here are how some of the faculty fellows were promoted through Public Engagement & Impact this year: 

External Media Spotlights

Through the daily promotion of faculty who are referenced in national and local external media outlets, Public Engagement & Impact continues to elevate the expertise of faculty across the institution and emphasize the importance of sharing knowledge with the public. Be sure to follow U-M on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn to keep updated on the topics and issues U-M faculty are weighing in on and how their work is addressing societal challenges around the world.