Campus Life

Global explorer, Outward Bound Oman director Mark Evans to visit Penn State

Lectures to spotlight cultural understanding, Middle Eastern life

Mark Evans, left, will speak at University Park on Sept. 18 and 19 as part of the Penn State Reads program. Director of Outward Bound Oman, Evans uses the desert as a classroom to promote greater cultural understanding between young people from the western and Arab world through the Connecting Cultures program that he founded in 2004. Credit: Explorersweb.comAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mark Evans, a wilderness explorer with a passion for bridging cross-cultural differences in the Middle East, will deliver public lectures on Sept. 18 and 19 as part of the Penn State Reads program.

Among his expeditions, Evans has traversed the Empty Quarter of Arabia by foot and camel, recreating a historic journey through a barren desert in 49 days.

“Connecting cultures” — besides serving as the namesake for his UNESCO-endorsed educational initiative — is one of Evans’ key goals as he visits Penn State. 

“He realized that his experiences of living in the Middle East and the way in which the Middle East was portrayed in the media were inconsistent,” said Pete Allison, an associate professor of values and experiential learning. “He wanted to do something to address that inconsistency.” 

In 2011 Evans was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II, who awarded him an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for promoting cultural diversity. 

Allison will moderate a conversation with Evans, slated from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 18 in 233AB HUB-Robeson Center. A fellow of The Explorers Club and the executive director of Outward Bound Oman, Evans will provide insights into cultural values and stereotypes.

He will also discuss his "Connecting Cultures" project, which has brought together aspiring leaders from the Middle East and Europe for desert excursions. With the program now accepting applications from the United States, Allison said he hopes Penn State students will participate in upcoming courses.

“This is about being open to opportunity and taking it,” Allison said. “This is about seeing how you can make the world a better place by following your heart.”

Evans will lead a lecture, "Into the Abode of Death," from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 19 in the Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium, as well. It will feature an introduction to Oman from Kathleen Ridolfo, the executive director of the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. A livestream link will be available for all Penn State students on the Penn State Reads website a week before the event.

The programming, Allison said, will resonate with students from all academic backgrounds, ranging from political science to global studies to adventure recreation. It also lays the foundation for the Penn State Reads program, with this year’s common text, “It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War,” chronicling Lynsey Addario’s experiences in war zones.

Evans’ visit is co-sponsored by Penn State Reads, the Student Engagement Network; the College of Health and Human Development and its Office of Diversity and Inclusion; University Libraries; Shaver’s Creek; the Rock Ethics Institute; the Center for Global Studies; and Recreation, Park and Tourism Management.

Penn State Reads is run jointly by Penn State Student Affairs and Penn State Undergraduate Education.

Last Updated September 19, 2017