The impact of changing social, technological and natural systems on the human condition.

The pace of change in our global society is rapid and shows little tendency to slow down in the immediate future. Our research and education programs seek to understand these changes and prepare our students to live in this rapidly changing world. At the same time, Penn State research is a contributor to change, and our students are likely to accelerate change in the future.

The Natural Environment
Anthropogenic climate change is a significant global issue with far reaching consequences for ecological systems and human societies. Research and teaching on climate change related themes occurs in multiple disciplines across the University. Much of this research is conducted with international collaborators. Climate Change and Health is the theme for a research partnership and an undergraduate student exchange program currently being developed with the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Societal Change
Many University programs and activities result directly or indirectly in social change, both here and abroad. Much of the research that directly addresses social change takes place in the research centers of the Penn State Social Science Research Institute.  

Technological Change
From new applications of existing technology to revolutionary advances in materials, energy and medical technology, technological development and new uses of technology in research and education are pervasive across the University. A significant proportion of new technological development occurs through the Materials Research Institute. As well as new developments in advanced materials, the Institute has a program in Humanitarian Materials Engineering that develops and tests locally appropriate materials and technologies for developing countries, and students can gain experience in the development and application of these technologies through the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program. Much of HESE’s programs have been in East Africa, primarily Kenya.