Center for Public Opinion Showcases Campus, Students

Debates and Polls Offer Unique Learning Opportunities

Debates and Polls Offer Unique Learning Opportunities


When UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion presented the Oct. 1 Senate debate between Sen. Scott Brown and now-Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren, the world was watching.

The event, held at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell in partnership with the Boston Herald, aired regionally and nationally on TV and radio and was streamed on the web via the Associated Press, UMass Lowell and the Boston Herald, garnering viewers around the world. More than 700 reports on the debate have appeared online, in print and over the airwaves. The event was also followed via social media including Twitter, where it was a trending topic nationally.

The center’s four polls on the Brown-Warren race also received extensive coverage.

The Center for Public Opinion’s work since its launch in September 2011 to present polls and events on politics and other important issues has showcased the strengths of UMass Lowell’s faculty and students and provided unique experiential learning opportunities for those students.
Four UMass Lowell students were the only panelists during the October 2011 debate, demonstrating intellect and poise as they posed questions to six candidates before a packed auditorium and a phalanx of TV cameras. At the October 2012 debate, all of the questions posed to Brown and Warren came from moderator David Gregory of “Meet the Press”—except for two from UMass Lowell students.

UMass Lowell students wrote blog posts and articles for the Boston Herald before and after the debates and participated in advance packages on the events, such as video interviews. Students also worked behind the scenes of the debates in a variety of roles, including directly with the campaigns. 
At the center’s November 2011 forum on the Occupy Movement, students spoke about their experiences with Occupy Boston. In December 2011, students questioned family members of Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman a forum on their experiences on the campaign trail leading up to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary in New Hampshire. Political science students have also helped to develop questions for the center’s polls. Through the center’s partnership with the Boston Herald, students have internship opportunities that offer experiential learning.