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Kai Schafft

Dr. Kai A. Schafft

Professor of Education (EDLDR & Rural Soc)

Phone: 814-863-2031

204E Rackley Building
University Park, PA 16802


  • Education Policy Studies


  • Educational Leadership Program
  • Comparative and International Education


  • Center on Rural Education and Communities (CREC)


Dr. Schafft is a Professor of Education at Penn State based within the Educational Leadership Program. Dr. Schafft directs the College's Center for Rural Education and Communities and serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Research in Rural Education.  Trained as a rural sociologist, with his Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University, his research broadly examines the relationship between social inequality, spatial inequality, and rural development. Dr. Schafft has also conducted research on rural poverty, student transiency, the determinants of rural childhood obesity, youth aspirations, and rural brain drain, and the role of schools in rural community development. More recent work has examined the school and community impacts of unconventional gas development within Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale play, as well as education and the contexts for youth development within post-socialist contexts. During the spring of 2015, Dr. Schafft was a visiting fellow at Central European University's Institute for Advanced Studies in Budapest, Hungary, where he conducted research on the social and political implications of Hungary's nationality self-government system for Hungary’s Roma minority. He currently serves in an elected position as President of the Rural Sociological Society (2020-21).

Areas of Expertise

Education Types

Rural Ed

Educational Studies

International Ed

Methodological Research

Multiple Methods
Qualitative Research

Social Issues

Comparative and International Education
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