Four faculty receive WUN support for global research partnerships

February 24, 2011

University Park, Pa. -- Four Penn State faculty have been selected to receive funds from the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund to participate in collaborative projects in 2011. An international partnership of 16 leading universities, WUN fosters research-based, interdisciplinary collaborations among faculty and students of its member institutions to address problems of global significance.

The four Penn State participating faculty are:

-- Lee Kump, professor of geosciences, for an ocean acidification workshop in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, and universities in the United Kingdom, Australia and Norway.

-- Rudy Slingerland, professor of geosciences, for a project on earth surface sedimentary flow processes in collaboration with researchers at three universities in the United Kingdom, and universities in Australia and the U.S.

-- Petra Tschakert, assistant professor of geography and associate of Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, for a workshop and project on limits to climate change adaptation in collaboration with researchers from universities in Australia and South Africa. She is also partnering with researchers in the United Kingdom on ecosystems and complexity, and the University of Washington, Seattle, on scenario building for climate change adaptation.

-- Nancy Tuana, professor of philosophy and director of Penn State's Rock Ethics Institute, and who leads the WUN Gender and Climate Change Collaboration, for partnerships with researchers at universities in South Africa and Australia on public health and climate change.

"The WUN development fund provides seed money for ongoing faculty research initiatives," said Peter Schiffer, associate vice president for research and the University's WUN representative. "But more importantly, WUN gives Penn State faculty access and connections to enthusiastic partners at other universities around the world and broadens the possibilities for sharing information. This year's projects, for example, involve collaborations with faculty and students at a total of 10 different universities that span the globe."

Petra Tschakert's work on adaptation to climate change typifies how Penn State faculty benefit from participation in WUN.

"Adaptation to climate change in rural areas is generally deemed desirable and possible," Tschakert said. "Yet new evidence suggests that there may be significant agro-economic, institutional and regulatory barriers and limits to what is practically feasible, fair and sustainable. We want to explore who is included in and left out from current adaptation discourses and programs and what implications such selective adaptation has on the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

"WUN has helped give us the opportunity to bring young scholars and well-established researchers from the University of Cape Town, the University of Western Australia and Penn State together to collaborate across disciplinary, cultural and geographic boundaries. Through WUN, we are able to demonstrate how international engagement can be achieved in creative, inclusive and ultimately socially robust ways."

Nancy Tuana noted that WUN support is helping to advance research in ways that climate differently impacts men and women.

"WUN support will catalyze interactions between researchers from more than a dozen countries and from five continents," she said. "This collaborative research has already led to an international conference, plans for a journal special issue and a book project that would not have been possible without the collaborations made possible by WUN support."

Penn State was a founding partner of WUN in 2001. Since that time, more than 100 University faculty and students have participated in its programs.

In addition to Penn State, current WUN members include the University of Southampton, University of Bristol, University of Leeds, University of Sheffield and University of York, all in the United Kingdom; Nanjing University and Zhejiang University, China; University of Auckland, New Zealand; the University of Western Australia and University of Sydney, Australia; University of Alberta, Canada; University of Bergen, Norway; University of Cape Town, South Africa; and the University of Wisconsin and University of Washington, Seattle.

Overall, WUN currently has over 30 research initiatives in its portfolio involving about 350 research faculty worldwide. Visit for more information about WUN.

Penn State faculty interested in participating in WUN should contact Schiffer at 814-863-9658 or send an e-mail to

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 09, 2015