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Dr. Kai A. Schafft

Dr. Kai A. Schafft
Phone: 8148632031
Office Address:
204E Rackley Building
University Park, PA 16802
Campus: University Park


Professor of Education (Educational Leadership) and Rural Sociology


Education Policy Studies


Center on Rural Education and Communities (CREC)


Educational Leadership
Comparative and International Education

Other Penn State Affiliations

Rural Sociology; Comparative and International Education


Dr. Schafft is a Professor of Education at The Pennsylvania State University based within the Educational Leadership Program. Dr. Schafft directs the College's Center for Rural Education and Communities and serves as associate editor for the Journal of Research in Rural Education.  He comes to Penn State from Cornell University where he received his Ph.D. in Development Sociology in 2003. His research interests broadly concern the relationship between social inequality, spatial inequality and rural development. His recent work examines the school and community impacts of unconventional gas development within Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale play. 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. 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.

Areas of Expertise

Education Types

Rural Ed

Educational Studies

International Ed

Methodological Research

Multiple Methods
Qualitative Research

Social Issues

Comparative and International Education

Courses Taught

Use of Mixed Methods in Social Science, Sociology of Rural Schools and Communities, Qualitative Methods, Research Design, Introduction to Educational Leadership

Representative Publications

Schafft, K.A. (2016) Rural education as rural development: Understanding the rural school-community well-being linkage in a 21st century policy context.  Peabody Journal of Education, 91(2), 137-154.

Schafft, K. A. (2016) Social dynamics and institutional capacity: Structures, mobilities, and identities beyond the periphery of the global metropolis. In D. Brown & M. Shucksmith (Eds.), International Handbook of Rural Studies (pp. 511-518). New York: Routledge.

Lichter, D.T., & Schafft, K.A. (2016). Rural people and places left behind:  Poverty and spatial inequality in the new century.  In Brady D., & Burton, L. (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Poverty (pp. 317-340). Oxford University Press.

Schafft, K.A., & Biddle, C. (2015). Opportunity, ambivalence, and youth perspectives on community change in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region.  Human Organization 74(1), 74-85.

Schafft, K.A., Glenna, L.L., Borlu, Y., & Green B. (2014). Local impacts of unconventional gas development within Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region: Gauging boomtown development through the perspectives of educational administrators, Society & Natural Resources 27, 389-404.

Petrin, R., Schafft, K.A., & Meece, J. (2014). Educational sorting and residential aspirations among rural high school students:  What are the contributions of schools and educators to the rural brain drain? American Educational Research Journal, 51(2), 294-326.