The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce the publication of a new open textbook, Radical Social Theory: An Appraisal, a Critique, and an Overcoming. The text was written by Graciela Monteagudo, Professor and Associate Director of the Social Thought and Political Economy Program (STPEC), and Aaron McBryar ’18, Lecturer Shemon Salam, Swati Birla ’06,’22PhD, Doug Hornstein ’18, Matthew Hewett ’20, Ashley Everson ’19, Manuel García ’18, Eli Bondar ’21, Arno Noack ’18, Alex Coats ’24, Chris Kennedy ’21, Artemis Duffy ’21, Ella Khorov ’20, Nellie Marshall-Torres ’21, Emily Parker ’20, Emily Van Regenmorter ’21, Leritza Ruiz ’21, and Lucia Solorzano ’20.
The book was written thanks to support from the University Libraries Open Education Initiative, which is intended to help faculty transition to open educational resources (OER). OER are learning, teaching, and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license and permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation, and redistribution by others. OER are known to reduce the cost of textbooks and other course materials for students and improve upon their academic success.
“The open educational resources collected in this book were created and assembled through a joint effort by the students and faculty in the STPEC at UMass,” says Monteagudo. “STPEC students and faculty are interested in exploring the structural causes of poverty, the racial, sexual, and gender dimensions of capitalism, the role of gender and sex in productive and reproductive labor, and the connection between liberalism, colonialism, and racism. This text is the main resource for Introduction to Radical Social Theory, STPEC 189, a one hundred-level General Education course taken by over 200 students per year.”
Over the course of the spring semester for 2022, the UMass Amherst Libraries have met the research and scholarly needs of our students, and we have also engaged with more than 400 students through our Outreach Series. This initiative was started by our Student Success and Outreach Librarian, Annette Vadnais (who is also known as the Purple Hair Librarian), and Lauren Weiss, a staff member in library communications. You can learn more about the ideas and activities generated for the Outreach Series in this article in the Springfield Gazette, and I’m happy to note that the Outreach Series has fostered connections among our students in addition to those they forge in class. The Libraries provide a “third space” beyond just the dorm room and the classroom, and it gives students opportunity for social and creative growth. One of the major highlights of this semester was our second annual Bookstock, where we collaborated with six of the campus’s student a cappella groups for an unforgettable live concert. Over 100 attendees showed up to cheer on the performers, including friends, parents, and even prospective students. This is great fun for students (and library staff volunteers!), and it also helps personalize the library experience for everyone who participates.
On the topic of personalizing the library experience, did you know that your student has a personal librarian? It’s true! You can get a sense of who’s who based on your student’s major or area of study by looking at this list – and take note of the fact that we also have liaison librarians for the Athletics Department, the Writing Center, and Public Health Services as well! We also offer a free New York Times subscription to each student, which they can sign up for at this link.
I’m also proud to share with you all the names of the winners and honorable mentions of the 2022 Undergraduate Sustainability Award, which is made possible by the generous support of generous donors to the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Sustainability Fund. Each of the five winners will receive an $800 scholarship, and the honorable mentions receive $400 scholarships per group:
- Shakhi Begum ’22, for “What has Fast Fashion got to do with Sustainability?”
- Theodore Eagle ’22, for “Toto, We’re Not in Hadley Anymore!: Environmental, Economic, and Cultural Complexities Surrounding the Adoption of No-Till Farming on Large-Scale Farms”
- Adam Finke ’22, for “Community Food Action Plan”
- Gwynnevere Klumpenaar ’22, for “Urban Greening Techniques in U.S. Cities: Public Welfare or Social Warfare?”
- Gregory Poelker-McKee ’24, for “Cooked Nature: What Three Classic Books on the American Lawn Can Tell Us About Our Current Struggle to Mitigate Climate Change”
- Brady Bell ’23, Marley Norton ’23, and Ariel Fine ’23, for “Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactors as a Treatment for Wastewater and Biogas Production at University of Massachusetts Amherst”
- Kieran Tay ’22, Nicholas Sbalbi ’22, Michael Forozis ’24, and Flo Sabatini ’25, for “Undergraduates Raising Awareness for Anaerobic Digestion”
In addition, we’re looking forward to unveiling our new UMass Amherst Libraries website in the not-too-distant future. It will feature a cleaner design, one optimized for users to find the resources and information they need. That’s coming in June. Until then you can follow the UMass Libraries on Twitter – and check in on our resident peregrine falcons on Twitter, too!
Wishing you and your students a happy and healthy spring & summer,
Interim Dean of Libraries