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About the UNESCO Chair

In 2013 Penn State was selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to establish this Chair to address the specific needs of youth and communities. Dr. Mark Brennan serves as Chair and leads the program.
Dr. Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair

Dr. Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair

Mission Statement of the UNESCO Chair in Community, Leadership, and Youth Development

The UNESCO Chair at Penn State aspires to be the leading source of high-impact research, educational programs, policy and partnerships that improve the lives of youth and communities worldwide.

The UNESCO Chair Program

Awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UNESCO Chairs program seeks to advance research, training and program development in all of UNESCO’s fields of competence by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through the transfer of knowledge across borders.

The opportunity to establish a UNESCO Chair is a rare and prestigious honor. Only 18 UNESCO Chairs are located in the United States, with just 4 housed at land grant institutions.

As part of the UNESCO University Education and Twinning program (UNITWIN), the UNESCO Chair in Community, Leadership, and Youth Development brings together University based research centers and national and international organizations with a shared goal of enhancing lives and opportunities for youth and communities worldwide.

Major Focus of the Penn State Chair Program

Our proven research, education, and outreach programs focus on three key interrelated areas: youth development and empowerment, community capacity building in which youth play a central role, and activism oriented toward social justice, change, and equality.

Empowerment of Our Young People

To enable the personal development of young people, we focus on research, teaching, and programming designed to facilitate leadership development, enhance youth social supports, provide life skills, and foster civic engagement.  Such work creates an environment where youth are safe, engaged, empowered, and supported as they grow to become contributing members of their communities.

Development of Our Communities

We seek to develop communities and the collective capacity that enhances local life. Our proven work focuses on significantly engaging citizens of all ages in their communities to shape to the empowerment and betterment of their local societies. Through this process citizens take on ownership of decision-making, social and economic development, planning for the future, and coordinating to meet current local needs. 

The Quest for Social Justice

Through the empowerment of young people and their communities we seek to build more open, just, and caring societies.  In this setting all citizens are activists for social change, change agents against inequality, and champions for the rights of their fellow citizens.