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Professor Named UNESCO Chair by United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has established a UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development in the college.

Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development in the college.

The chair will be held by Mark Brennan, associate professor of rural community and leadership development.

“We are gratified that UNESCO recognizes Penn State’s expertise and track record in effecting positive change for people in rural communities and developing countries around the world,” says Penn State president Rodney Erickson. “This chair will enable Penn State to foster leadership training and youth development in regions where it’s most critically needed.”

Brennan explains that a well-documented need exists for rural community, leadership, and youth development research, teaching, and programming. “This is particularly true in Africa and the Global South, where an increasing ‘youth bulge’ exists alongside a heavy dependence on agriculture,” he says.

According to the United Nations, 27 percent of the global population is age 15 or younger, with 85 percent of all youth living in less-developed countries. In addition, nearly half of the world’s population resides in rural areas, and over 90 percent of all rural residents live in less-developed regions.

“The programs we develop will concentrate on issues of youth and community capacity building, equality and education, economic development, social justice, and sustainable development,” Brennan says.

“This unprecedented opportunity will allow us to be a leading force in international research, programming, and policy related to rural and youth development.”