United Nations organization renews UNESCO Chair program at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After a rigorous program review, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, has renewed for another five years its support for the UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development at Penn State. Mark Brennan, a faculty member in the College of Agricultural Sciences, will continue in his role as chair and provide leadership to the program.

In making the announcement, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova cited the positive review of the program and praised the accomplishments of the Penn State chair. She said the organization looks forward to "the UNESCO Chair continuing its close collaboration with UNESCO, in particular with regard to its priorities focused on youth, peacebuilding and violence prevention, and sustainable development, especially in least-developed countries."

The opportunity to have a UNESCO Chair program is a rare and prestigious honor. There currently are only 17 UNESCO Chairs in the United States. The Penn State chair was among the first awarded to a land-grant institution, the first in a college of agriculture and in the Big Ten, and one of only five chairs worldwide focusing on community and youth issues.

"I am deeply honored to have our UNESCO Chair program renewed and again awarded to Penn State," Brennan said. "I know very well the thorough, rigorous and comprehensive review process that chair renewals undergo. To again be selected is humbling and an incredible honor. It brings with it a tremendous responsibility to serve communities and youth worldwide."

Brennan recently was appointed to the U.S. State Department Commission to UNESCO, which previously was chaired by former Penn State President Milton Eisenhower. He also is co-founder of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Children, Youth, and Communities.

He noted that over the next five years, the Penn State UNESCO Chair program will focus extensively on peace, youth development and sustainable development. This will be particularly relevant in relation to UNESCO's emphasis on preventing violent extremism, youth as peacebuilders, community-based solutions to sustainable development, and ensuring youth voices in program/policy making through youth-driven research.

UNESCO chairs are part of the organization's University Twinning and Networking Program. Established in 1992, the program was conceived as a way to advance research, training and program development by building university networks and encouraging interuniversity cooperation through the transfer of knowledge across borders. The program now consists of nearly 700 leading university researchers and program/policy developers worldwide.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, left, and Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development at Penn State. Credit: Courtesy of Mark BrennanAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated April 19, 2017