Legal Studies Honors Program Info Session

If you are a Legal Studies major, you are invited to consider applying for the Departmental Honors track in Legal Studies.  This provides majors with the opportunity to conduct independent research culminating in a Capstone thesis or project.  The Departmental Honors track in Legal Studies is a chance to extend and deepen your learning in an area of particular interest to you while working closely with a Legal Studies faculty member who serves as your honors committee chair.  For more information drop by our info session!

Legal Studies Honors Program
Drop-In Info Session
***With Pizza!***
Friday, April 10
12:00 – 1:30 PM
Thompson 230

Here’s additional information for those of you who are interested:

First year students, Sophomores, and Juniors already in the Commonwealth Honors College
If you want to join the LS Honors Track, you must contact me, Leah Wing, by April 1 of your junior year to join in time to conduct your research the fall semester of your senior year.  You will need to have a faculty chair selected by the end of April junior year with whom you will work and I will help you with the paper work and the process in setting that up.

First year students and Sophomores who are not yet part of Commonwealth Honors College (CHC)
If you want to join the LS Honors Track, you must first apply and be accepted into Commonwealth Honors College which requires a 3.4 GPA.  Contact CHC directly to apply; the next cycle of applications open April 1.

If you have questions, but are unable to attend, contact:

Leah (Wing),
Legal Studies Honors Director
#430 Thompson Hall
Office Hours Spring 2015:  Tuesdays 2-3:45

Red Sox Law Night!

On April 27th The Red Sox will be holding their first annual “Law Night” at Fenway Park inside of their private Champions Club before the game.  With the purchase of a special ticket this event will offer current law students, Alumni, and other young professionals the chance to meet and hear from front office representatives within the Red Sox Legal Team about how they made their way into the Sports and Entertainment Industry. At the conclusion of the presentation those that attend will be welcome to enjoy some food and beverage inside the club for a networking reception up until the Red Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays at 6:10pm.  Additionally, everyone will receive a complimentary Fenway Park Replica giveaway as well!

Limited tickets at $65 are currently available on a first come first serve basis, and can be purchased through Matt Tieri at 617-226-6288.

Take a look at the flyer: Red Sox Law Night

How to resolve final exam conflicts

If you have two finals scheduled at the same time or more than two finals scheduled on the same day, don’t worry because UMass Amherst has a plan for that!

According to page 30 of the 2014/2015 UMass Amherst Academic Regulations:

  • If you have more than two final exams scheduled for the same day, the faculty member whose exam that falls in the middle chronologically must offer a make-up exam as long as you notify the instructor of the conflict at least TWO WEEKS before the exam. You must go to the Registrar’s office in 213 Whitmore to obtain official proof of the conflict and give this proof to the instructor.
  • If you have two final exams scheduled for the same time, the instructor for the course whose 5-digit class number has the higher final digit must offer you a make-up exam. (e.g.  If the two class numbers are 12345 and 12347, the instructor of class number 12347 must offer you a make-up exam.)  To qualify for the makeup exam, you must go to the Registrar’s office and obtain proof of the conflict, which you will then present to the instructor of class number 12347.

All make-up exams must be given during finals week, but they may be given during hours that fall outside the normal daily exam periods.

Friends of UMass Library Board of Trustees Position

The Board of Trustees of the Friends of UMass library provides a valuable opportunity for students to give input on the heart of UMass’ community: the 25 floor W.E.B DuBois Library. Whether you know DuBois as the location of the archives; a place to check out some light reading; a great research center; or a place to lay your weary head after finals; the Board of Trustees wants you!

Undergraduate students are one of the most important assets to the library and are the core of the library’s patronage, but they have not frequently served on the Board. Serving on the Board meets only twice a year, and is a great way to have an influence on how UMass grows while you’re there! The Friends of UMass Library are looking for students who can speak up and provide input to the Board of Trustees.

The application can be found here, and we look forward to hearing back from you! Applications require a nominator and a student application, but the process is quite brief–also, you can nominate yourself!

Applications can be sent to:





Looking to develop speaking and leadership skills? Ace a job interview? Ignite your career?

Join UMass Toastmasters!

Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Our membership is 313,000 strong. These members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 14,650 clubs in 126 countries that make up our global network of meeting locations.

The Toastmasters mission is to provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.  At UMass Toastmaster meetings you will  learn to be confident speaking in front of a crowd. Whether you want to practice a presentation for class, give a perfect pitch, or enter a room with prominent presence, Umass Toastmasters is the place to practice. We share feedback and suggestions with each other to foster individual growth from effective communication.  It is beyond rewarding!

Meeting Location, Day, and Time
Every second and fourth Wednesday of the month in the Campus Center, 6:45pm. The room will always be announced via email, FB, and Campus Pulse. You may also check with the receptionist on the concourse.


New Pre-Law Society Forms – Join now!

Are you interested in law? Check out the brand-new Pre-Law Society. Their purpose is “to provide all students interested in joining the legal profession who join the Society with assistance in pursuing their legal careers.”

They are on Facebook here:

And their general body meeting will be Tuesday, Nov 18 @ 8 PM, Location TBA!


Artifice seeks writers

Do you want to write about Movies, TV, Anime, Arts, Comics, Games,
Literature or other art forms? Do you want to get your foot in the door
and enter the big-wide world of the online media and have your work read
and shared by millions of readers? We invite you to The Artifice:

The Artifice is an online magazine that covers a wide spectrum of art
forms. We do not run The Artifice, you do. The Artifice is collaboratively
built and maintained by your fellow writers. It is structured to let you
focus on the quality of the content while it deals with the exposure of it
to an audience of millions.

Instead of recycling the same entertainment news stories or publishing
commonplace editorials, The Artifice focus on unique topics that are
intellectually stimulating and meaningful.

You can write about a whole host of things for pleasure, passion and/or to
boost your CV with vital experience in this ever competitive media

Our current writers range from undergraduates, to graduates, to emeritus
professors and a bit of everyone in between.

Grab the opportunity and join our team of writers. Join now:

Email Etiquette: How to Email a Professor

As the semester begins and your GMail fills up with countless emails that you may or may not have time to read, it is worthwhile to brush up on your email etiquette, especially when sending emails to professors.  If you want to be taken seriously and respected by your professors, read and heed!

The majority of teachers have certain expectations from messages they receive from students. These professors and instructors will expect a student’s level of communications to reflect professionalism and proper tone, no matter how adept they are at using technology. If the teacher’s title is “Assistant Professor,” “Associate Professor,” or “Professor” you should use the standard described below. The titles of “lecturer,” “visiting assistant professor,” or “visiting lecturer” usually designate adjunct faculty, and in writing to teachers at this level you should use the same standard. If you would like to learn more about the standard for composing an email to a professor or see example emails, please click here.

According to wikiHow, the following outlines the standard for composing an email to a professor or instructor:

  • Read the syllabus. Often times, the question you would like to ask has already been answered in the material the professor has provided at the beginning of class. Requesting a professor go over this again makes you look like you are not a serious student and only harms your cause.
  • Make sure email is really the best way to communicate your issue. Email is often much more time consuming than an actual conversation. It generally takes longer to compose word-processed text than to say it. Even if the email is short and quick for you to deploy, the response for which you are asking can be time-consuming for the professor. For example, emailing a professor to ask “what did I miss?” is not OK. You are basically expecting the professor to take the time to write up an entire class just for you. Also, don’t email to ask about your grades. In the US, FERPA laws mean many universities have instructed professors not to send grade information via email. (Plus grades are better discussed in person. Go to the professor’s office hours or make an appointment where you can sit down together and review your work. Then the professor can show you exactly where in the assignment you fell short. Also, you are more likely to come across as interested in learning rather than being a grade grubber just whining to get extra points.) Whenever possible, try to have a “live”, synchronous conversation with your professor. A general rule-of-thumb is: if it is going to take your professor longer to type out a reply to your email than to say it, reconsider your using email. Make use of the professor’s office hours, where you will most likely get an immediate response. Or, if the office hours do not work for you, make an appointment to visit either by phone or in-person at another time. Reserve email for short exchanges.
  • Use your academic account. People are deluged with emails every day, and by using your school account, you will have a better chance of avoiding the spam filter, or your professor skipping right over your email because it is from an unknown address.
  • Include a meaningful subject line. While this is true of every email you send (that you wish to be read), it is especially important when you are attempting to communicate with somebody whose day is busy enough as it is.
    • If your professor does not already have a preferred convention, then a good default is to start with your course department, number, and section (or day and time of course), and then the topic of your email. For example, “PSYC100 Section XX: Question about data collection for project” would be an excellent way fill in the subject line. With your academic account and your well-titled subject, the professor knows who you are and exactly what you want, even before clicking “Open.” This information helps the professor organize and prioritize student emails. Including the section info is especially important for professors who teach multiple sections of the same course. If you cannot remember your section number, then give the day and time the course meets (PSYC1001 MW @ 2 p.m.). Naming the subject of the course may be almost as useless as a blank email, imagine if a good portion of your job was researching and teaching psychology topics, and an email arrives in your inbox titled “psychology”.
  • Always use a greeting. Do not begin with “Hey” or similar colloquialisms. Generally speaking, you should use “Dear Professor Last-name.” If the instructor does not have a PhD, remember that “Mrs.” is appropriate only for married women who prefer it (and that many female academics do not take their husband’s name). “Ms.” is safer, especially if you do not know the instructor’s marital status, and is often preferred regardless.
    • If he or she signs the reply with a first name, it is still best to address him or her as “Dr. Last-name” or “Professor Last-name” in an email. Do not use the professor’s first name unless you have been explicitly invited to do so. Also, please spell your professor’s name correctly.
  • Briefly and politely state the reason why you are emailing. Offer only as much information as is relevant to the situation and likely to interest the professor. Get to the point right away. You should not begin by providing your name in the body of the message. The professor should already know your name from the email headings and from the signature of your message. Not only is such information redundant, but it also makes you sound like an 8-year-old writing to his or her first pen pal if you begin “Hello. My name is….” Instead, get to the point of why you are writing. Be sure to include the name or number of the course (including section info) that you are writing about, in the email as well as in the subject line. This information is worth including in the body of the email because some email programs, like Gmail, do not show the subject once you leave the inbox.
  • If you are emailing with a problem, suggest a solution.  Be considerate of how your solution might create additional work for the professor. For example, you may say, “If you are unable to give me notes for the material, is there another student in your 101 class that you might be able to direct me to who can help instead?”
  • Sign it with your name and your student ID number. Even if you know that your professor knows you by name, use first and last name and include your course and section information below your name. You will save him or her from having to figure out what course and section you are talking about if he or she needs to look up something about the course in order to answer your question
  • Read it over. If you do not have spell-check on your email, then you can copy the message, paste it into a word-processing program, and run spell-check there. Consider not only the mechanics, but also what you have said. Strive for a polite tone, concise language, and clear purpose.
  • If the issue is touchy or the email long, ask someone else to read it, too. Ask if your reader would be offended by such an email if it were directed at him or her.
  • Allow adequate time for a reply. If you are sending only a piece of information (“I have the flu and will not be in class on Tuesday, but Sue will turn in my paper for me.”), then the professor may not consider a reply necessary. In this case, you are done.
  • Once a reply has been received, acknowledge it. A simple “Thank you,” may be enough. If necessary, write a more extensive email using these same guidelines to achieve a professional effect. If the case is not being adequately resolved by email, then ask for an appointment to meet in person.

Additional Tips:

  • Use the words “please” and “thank you”–they really help and are universally appreciated
  • Try to contact a peer first if the purpose of your email is to find out what you missed when absent.
  • Recognize that requests that may take only a few seconds to write and send may take much longer to fulfill. If you want a grade calculated, or a full breakdown of what you missed during an absence, or anything else that may be labor intensive, then offer to come to office hours if the professor prefers.
  • Being polite does not mean being a pushover. If you have a need, make it known. While you should not make a demand, you can certainly make a suggestion. For example, if you have surgery scheduled on the day of the final, then you should do more than merely state your conflict. You should offer to take the exam early, request an incomplete, offer to submit a final project in place of the exam, or present whatever other idea you think would solve the problem to everyone’s satisfaction. Be sure to remain open to other suggestions, as the professor may have ideas of his or her own.
  • Leave enough time for a response. Some professors do not work on campus every day and may not have Internet access at home, so you may need to wait a few days.
  • Follow up. If more than a few days have passed and you have not gotten a response, then it is appropriate to politely ask if the professor received your email and had time to consider what you wrote. It may be more effective to follow up by phone or by an office visit. Do not be afraid to speak up or send a reminder.

Help high schoolers with an Immigration project?

A group of local 9th grade students are doing a 3-month, interdisciplinary study on local, state and federal immigration issues. For their final project, they are trying to write a book of “Immigrant Stories” of people who have immigrated to Western MA. Right now, the group is looking to interview immigrants living in the area. The interviews will feed into the book, and the final result will be presented to legislators at the State House in Boston in June.

If you have immigrated to the area — or you know someone else who has and who may want to participate — please contact Mr. Jeff Dyer at <>

Results from Political Science Ugrad Survey

Thank you to all of you who participated in our Political Science Majors Experience survey (And congratulations to the two majors who won the hoodies for participating!)

We are committed to incorporating your feedback into our programming and wanted to share some of the results of the survey with you.

Among the top findings are: 

  • 84% of majors say that Professors are interested in helping students reach their full potential
  • The most frequently cited areas of improvement were 1.) getting more career advice and 2.) increasing the selection of course offerings
  • 85% of majors are satisfied with the quality of our advising staff
  • 74% of majors are satisfied with the opportunities for scholarships
  • 68% of majors are satisfied with mentoring from faculty
  • 44% of majors are satisfied with opportunities to work on faculty research projects.
  • 89% of majors are satisfied with the quality of instruction
  • 78% of majors are satisfied with our class sizes
  • 76% of majors are satisfied with the relevance of coursework to their future career plans.
  • 59% of majors are satisfied with the activities sponsored by the department

Why did you become a political science major?

Top 2 answers:

  • My interest in politics
  • My future career goals relate to politics and government

What three goals are most important to you as a political science major?

Top 3 answers:

  • Developing skills that will help with employment after graduation
  • Learning more about political affairs
  • Improving my understanding of other countries and cultures

In which areas have you improved most since majoring in Political Science?

Top Answers:

  • General knowledge of politics (57%)
  • Understanding problems facing citizens in the US and abroad (49%)
  • Understanding of political theory (43%)
  • Understanding of international relations (42%)

Bottom Answers:

  • Ability to conduct research (27%)
  • Public speaking (13%)
  • Ability to work as a part of a team (3%)

So what will we do next?

We are committed to growing our Undergraduate Research Engagement Program, and we are working with faculty to develop new opportunities for undergraduates to participate in hands-on research. Keep checking the link above over the summer as we add new positions and application instructions.

We are already doing a lot to help you explore careers –we developed an alumni network this year, hired several professors of practice, organized networking events like Meet the Law, brought back alums for advice and lectures, sent students to conferences and the United Nations, organized graduate school panels, and offered a 1 credit professional development seminar. But we’ve learned that we need to better communicate these things so that more students take advantage of them. Do you have suggestions? We regularly post on Twitter, Facebook, the Dept Website, bulletin boards, and in our weekly email. What else should we be doing? Let us know at

We’re thinking about ways to improve your public speaking opportunities, too. To start, we encourage all students to apply to present at the Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference every year. We’re talking with our program directors to see what options exist for offering a public speaking course. Stay tuned.