About the Department

Welcome to the college’s home for applied social sciences.

We are a small, welcoming community of scholars and friends united by our passion for preparing the next generation of teachers and improving our ability to reach out to communities. The scholarship in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education is related to people, society, and economic systems grounded in theory and methods from the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Faculty and students develop and employ rigorous approaches to discover fundamental and applied principles that advance science in their core disciplines. The department strives to improve the health, prosperity, and welfare of people in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond. Our core disciplines for teaching and research are:

  • Agricultural and Food Systems — focuses on the interconnections between producers, distributors, regulators, and consumers in a variety of issues related to food choices, markets, pollution, and health
  • Community Development and Engagement — focuses on community resilience through civic engagement, leadership, and entrepreneurship to support sustainable communities and regional economies
  • Environment and Natural Resources — addresses the human impact on fundamental natural assets, such as land, water, and air, and tackling the challenges that growing populations create for economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental sustainability
  • Population Processes in Global Perspective —enhancing scholarship on migration and immigration, health, and material well-being of individuals and households across the world

The department offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, with three thematic areas to guide our scholarship. These three themes utilize the respective strengths of each of the three core disciplines while providing an overall collaborative framework for research, scholarship, teaching, and outreach.

The Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology programs and the departmental main office are located in Armsby Building. The faculty of the Agricultural Extension Education program is in Ferguson Building. Come meet our faculty, staff, and students and discover for yourself why we are happy to call the department our home.

Latest News

December 2, 2022

Internships earn awards for College of Agricultural Sciences students

Twelve Penn State students have been selected as College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society 2022 Internship Award winners. The award, which includes a $1,000 stipend, was established to encourage students to participate in a credit or noncredit educational internship program related to their field of study.

Read More

December 1, 2022

Dr. Carrie Castille delivers the 2022 McDowell Lecture

Hosted in Food Sciences (Erickson) Building, Penn State students, faculty, and staff joined Dr. Carrie Castille, Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA), to discuss challenges faced by the extension system and to shed light on the future of land grants in the 21st century. The running theme throughout Dr. Castille’s McDowell Lecture was the importance of partnerships. If universities and extension programs are going to address the challenges faced by agriculture today and in the future, intent on sustaining natural resources and supporting growing populations, partnerships are going to be a vital part of any successful initiative.

Read More

November 28, 2022

Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health honors rural health champions

Glenn Sterner is a graduate of the RSOC program and was recently awarded the Rural Health Hero award.

Read More

November 22, 2022

CEDEV program marks 15 years online with World Campus

For the past 15 years, the community and economic development program has helped students confront the challenges faced by community economic development practitioners.

Read More

Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education


Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802