Student congregate on the campus of Penn State DuBois.

Transforming Education

Penn State will be a leader in the transformation of education, including enhancing access, as it fulfills its land-grant mission in a 21st-century context and continues to drive discovery-focused research across disciplines.

Making a comprehensive and useful education accessible to citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond was core to Penn State’s founding mission. Today, this “comprehensive and useful education” encompasses many traditional topics such as the physical sciences and mathematics, as well as emerging issues such as climate change; food, water, and cyber security; sustainability; political instability; terrorism; displaced populations; and global cooperation. As a world-renowned, land-grant, public research institution, Penn State has a pre-eminent global role in addressing these challenges by producing a new generation of leaders. This will require Penn State to use its size, scope, reach, intellectual capital, and resources to help transform education, making it accessible to all sectors of society. We will show by example what it means to be a land-grant university in the 21st century and facilitate the education of enlightened graduates who are prepared for meaningful careers.

As well, Penn State is and will continue to be a global university that must also consider the needs of prospective students from around the United States and the rest of the world. Our structure — one University, with physical campuses geographically distributed and an online World Campus — creates a scope unique among institutions of higher education. The commitment of the entire Penn State community to our educational mission enables us to achieve meaningful and measurable impacts in this area.

Advance the frontiers of knowledge.

Research impact in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics remains vital to Penn State’s mission and vision, and the University will continue to invest aggressively in these areas. Areas of study in which we are already world class—the aforementioned disciplines among others—will continue to grow, evolve, and thrive. Transformative knowledge creation in myriad disciplines will further elevate Penn State’s status as a top-echelon institution of higher learning that continues to emphasize discovery through meaningful, curiosity-based research and study. Penn State will advance the frontiers of knowledge through interdisciplinary collaboration — working seamlessly across disciplines and structures of the University as a distinguishing attribute.

Foster a curriculum that integrates multiple modes of delivery, while leveraging online capabilities and enhanced and emerging digital learning options.

Penn State is well situated to provide opportunities for students to pursue education in a manner and context that best meets their varied needs. Penn State provides a physical presence near most residents of Pennsylvania and, through the World Campus, students can receive online instruction in key fields from almost anywhere. In the next five years, Penn State will further develop a culture and curriculum that facilitates the ability of students to seamlessly access courses across resident, online, and blended instructional modes. The hallmark of transforming education, consistent with one of the guiding principles of One Penn State 2025, is the ongoing commitment to a shared and coherent curriculum accessed across the University and in multiple modes of delivery.

Support and empower our outstanding faculty and staff.

Our 21st century land-grant University will require faculty to possess the skills and tools necessary to meet changing pedagogical needs, infused with creative approaches to teaching, research, and scholarship. University organizations, institutes, and support units will work with faculty and staff to articulate, implement, assess, and continuously improve excellence in teaching and student learning outcomes, including the effective use of advanced learning technologies to enhance the teaching-learning enterprise. We will be known as a leading research university whose faculty embraces teaching as integral to its charge and receives resources to support success. Our faculty and staff will be known as exemplary research mentors, instilling the value and discipline of research in our undergraduate and graduate students, and preparing the next generation of independent researchers.

Prepare our students for success in their careers and in life.

In higher education, the quality and effectiveness of our work profoundly and substantively impacts our students. A key role of any university is to ensure that our students receive an education that effectively prepares them not only for the modern workforce, but also for the challenges they will encounter during their lives. The foundation of a strong integrative general education program will be combined with disciplinary training and engaged learning. Moreover, Penn State will remain committed to providing an array of co-curricular opportunities and career preparation services that will enhance students’ readiness to succeed. The University will be a leader in student engaged scholarship, providing students opportunities to apply their learning in capstone and real-world settings and creating the next generation of accomplished professionals, entrepreneurs, volunteers, community leaders, and resilient lifelong learners. As resilient learners, our graduates will stay connected to the University throughout their lifetimes, consistent with the guiding principles of One Penn State 2025.

Partner more effectively with pre-college educators.

Pursuing a college degree can be daunting for students who are underprepared in primary and secondary education. Dismantling barriers to that pursuit will require fortification of current partnerships and creation of meaningful new ones with PreK-12 educators. Such changes will ensure a continuous flow from one academic experience to another—creating a more seamless PreK-16-and-beyond approach to student learning—and make a college education more accessible to and affordable for all individuals. Penn State, in partnership with pre-college educators, will be a leader in promoting the value and expectations of and pathways to a college education. Penn State’s extraordinary capability in communications, outreach, bridge, and financial literacy program development will prepare pre-college students of the Commonwealth to make informed decisions regarding college readiness, acquire leadership skills, navigate financial aid, earn scholarships, and manage money in advance of entering college.