Heard on Campus: Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair

July 16, 2013

"To me, [the UNESCO Chair] is about action, and it's about justice. It's about education for all. It's about guaranteeing that single-most important human right - the absolute right to education and to knowledge. It's that knowledge that opens up an absolute world of possibilities for a young girl in rural Africa. It's knowledge that convinces a boy in Sierra Leone to want to pick up a pen instead of a gun. It's knowledge that empowers youth to make life-saving decisions for their health. And it's knowledge that empowers communities to take care of their own needs. … It wasn't until I actually saw the impact of education throughout the world that I realized its importance. It wasn't the chore or burden it seemed to be when I was young. … The reality is we've forgotten why education is so important. We've distilled its usefulness down to a handful of small items: things like getting a better job. There's lots more to it than that. We've told ourselves and our children it's something we need, but we've stopped understanding why. Not so in the developing world, where I get to see even young children who are excited and honored and enthusiastic about the prospect of going to school in a one-room schoolhouse with next-to-no resources. They understand what we've forgotten. They understand what our grandparents held so dear: that education is the single-most important thing we can attain. It's the single-greatest gift we can give. That we have one chance at making a better life for ourselves and everyone else through the doors of education."

-- Mark Brennan, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Chair and Penn State professor, delivering the keynote lecture, “Achieving Education for All, Realizing Engaged Communities, and Creating Global Citizens for Change through the UNESCO Chairs Program.” His lecture, which was a call to action for groundbreaking research, teaching and applied programs for the betterment of young people and communities worldwide, capped a two-day symposium, "Shaping the Future of International Development," held July 15-16 on Penn State's University Park campus. For more information, visit http://news.psu.edu/story/280946/2013/07/05/academics/unesco-chair-sympo... online.

Last Updated January 09, 2015