State Department appoints Brennan to U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry this month appointed Mark Brennan, a Penn State faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education, to the U.S. National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, commonly referred to as UNESCO. 

The educational arm of the United Nations, UNESCO seeks to promote peace, security and human rights by promoting international educational, scientific and cultural collaboration. It pursues these objectives through five major programs: education, natural sciences, social/human sciences, culture and communication/information.

The U.S. National Commission consists of senior representatives of industry, nongovernmental organizations, foundations and government, as well as high-ranking academics. The commission serves a major advisory role to the State Department and fosters wider U.S. government relationships with UNESCO and other United Nations bodies.

 "I am deeply honored to accept this appointment from Secretary Kerry and to continue the important role of Penn State within UNESCO," Brennan said.

Penn State has a historical connection with the National Commission. Penn State President Milton Eisenhower was a founding member of UNESCO and served as the first chairman of the U.S. National Commission. He also represented the United States at the inaugural UNESCO conferences in Paris, Mexico City and Beirut.

 
Milton Eisenhower and students stand near a table of books under a sign reading "UNESCO."

Penn State President Milton Eisenhower (1950-56), as the first chairman of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, organizes a University book drive to raise funds for foreign aid.

Image: Penn State Archives
 

In describing its importance, Eisenhower called UNESCO "a body unique in history. It unites, in one assembly, spokesmen of the arts, sciences and learned professions; of the education system at all levels; of radio, motion pictures and the press; of the education interests of labor, agriculture and of religious bodies; and of many other groups working for the establishment of peace."

The opportunity to serve on the National Commission in itself is an unprecedented privilege to serve the country, Penn State and the international community, noted Brennan.

"That said, words can't express what an honor and humbling responsibility it is to return a Penn State presence to UNESCO and the National Commission that Milton Eisenhower launched. I'll do my best to make him proud and continue his important work."

Brennan's involvement with UNESCO runs deep. In 2012, he was named the UNESCO Chair for Community, Leadership, and Youth Development — only the 18th UNESCO chair ever to be awarded in the United States. Through this position, he has engaged a wide range of Penn State students and faculty in scholarship and outreach.

Research and programs under the umbrella of Brennan's UNESCO Chair have helped internationally to build stronger communities, provide opportunities for positive youth development, fight extremism and terrorism, and promote social and economic opportunities for young and old alike. Representation on the National Commission for UNESCO speaks highly of the level at which Penn State and the Penn State UNESCO Chair programs are regarded, he said.

Brennan's term on the commission will end on Dec. 31, 2018, and may be renewed for an additional three-year period.

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Last Updated September 09, 2016