The “&People” Program is one element of Penn State’s strategy to engage globally through partnerships in education, research and service learning. At the core is a learning environment that focuses on the regional-scale expression of prominent global challenges. The program stresses complexity and system response to multiple stressors—explored through the interaction of social and environmental systems. &People:
- Is an immersive program that links researchers, students and stakeholders around the co-generation of knowledge.
- Is located where critical human-environment processes are coupled with unique and fascinating consequences
- Engages faculty and students in problem-solving, complex decision-making and communication in a multicultural and multi-scalar environment.
- Involves long-term engagement with a place and a community.
Parks&People (South Africa) takes place in the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa and focuses on the interactions between human and natural systems around issues of conservation, biodiversity, sustainability, ethics, social justice, gender, and food security in rural and urban environments.
Places and people exist in a specific physical and cultural environment that is conditioned by a particular history and the social landscape around them. Parks&People challenges students to engage with diverse places and peoples, and to explore multiple perspectives (disciplinary and cultural) from local through to global. As a result, Parks&People helps students locate themselves in this multidimensional and complex space.