Mark Brennan named UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development

Posted: November 20, 2012

Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences have been selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to establish a UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development. Dr. Mark Brennan will serve as Chair and lead the program.

The opportunity to establish a UNESCO Chair is a rare and prestigious honor. Only 17 UNESCO Chairs are located in the United States, with just 4 housed at land grant institutions.  None exist within Colleges of Agriculture or within the Big Ten. 

In support of UNESCO‚Äôs priorities for addressing the specific needs of rural youth and communities, this Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development will concentrate on issues of youth and community capacity building, equality and education, economic development, social justice, and sustainable development. 

The focus of this work will primarily be in Africa, throughout the Global South, and other developing regions.  The Chair will address the following: (a) Establish partnerships for research, teaching, and outreach.  The program will establish a think-tank and serve as a significant bridge builder between universities, civil society, communities, researchers and policy-makers. The Chair will undertake cutting-edge research and program development, synergistically linking scholars, experts, and practitioners through cohesive programmatic efforts; (b) Disseminate and share teaching materials and best practice tools, enabling leadership and capacity building among rural youth and communities. The Chair will launch ground-breaking educational initiatives including postdoctoral fellowships, student/faculty exchanges, internships, on-line graduate certificate programs, and contribute to an online global graduate degree program in youth leadership; (c) Formalize a sustainable international consortium on rural community and leadership development as education among young people, youth workers, NGOs and academics; and (d) Facilitate international debate on community and youth development as a central policy issue.  All will establish and strengthen North-South, South-South and North-South-South partnerships.

In order to achieve these goals, the program will collaborate with other UNESCO Chairs and a range of international universities and NGOs, all of whom have committed to being part of this program.  The Chair will be based in the AESE Center for Economic and Community Development and College of Agricultural Sciences Office of International Programs.