Outreach and Service

The Department of Geography is a leader in outreach at the University, and our faculty, staff, and students offer their expertise through teaching, research, and service to address environmental, social, economic, and cultural issues across the state, country, and world.

These initiatives, whether they are based in one of our researcher centers, hosted by a student organization, or addressed in an education abroad program, put us at the crossroads of major scientific questions facing the world today.

Among the initiatives that have roots in the department:

Robert Brooks and associates at his center, Riparia, research how wetland ecosystems function and how human activities affect them with the goal of restoring and preserving this valuable habitat. The center became integrated with the department in 2003, and in 2009, Brooks received the University’s Award for Faculty Outreach.

Two department graduate students lead a group of Schreyer Honors College undergraduates each summer to India as part of the Homes of the Indian Nation (HOINA) service-learning project. HOINA participants work in an orphanage in southern India and provide educational support, such as teaching English to staff and assisting with homework.

Erica Smithwick is helping to enhance science education in elementary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania through Carbon EARTH, Carbon Educators and Researchers Together for Humanity. The project is part of a National Science Foundation GK-12 grant designed to team Penn State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduate students with elementary and middle school science teachers from two Pennsylvania school districts. The STEM graduate fellows will work with the science teachers to enhance their curriculum on carbon-related themes including geography, astronomy, physics, and more.

The Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Development in Africa (AESEDA) serves as a coordinating body that promotes Penn State engagement in Africa.


The department is a member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Guido Cervone serves as an affiliate scientist with UCAR.