Discovery Summit

We hope you will join us for the College of Education's annual Discovery Summit on Friday, March 22, 2024. The reception starts at 5:30 pm in the 2nd-floor Atrium in the Chambers Building.


College of Education Discovery Summit
Fri, March 22, 2024

We invite you to join us for our annual Discovery Summit – a celebration of how our faculty impact education through their research. Please join Dean Kimberly Lawless, an exciting line-up of faculty presenters, and a host of Education graduate and undergraduate students for an inspiring, interactive evening.

Discovery Summit College of Education at Penn State 2023
Discovery Summit College of Education 2024


Reception: 5:30 pm - 6:15 pm

Welcome and Introductions: 6:15 pm - 6:30 pm

Presentation Session 1: 6:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Dessert Reception: 7:00 pm - 7:25 pm

Presentation Session 2: 7:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Workplace Bullying: The Troubling Truth and a Path Forward

Leah Hollis will inform the audience on the workplace bullying problem in education.  Stress related work environments create unhealthy experiences for faculty, staff, and students. After reviewing the problem and impact on those targeted by bullying, Leah Hollis will offer solutions for individuals to cope with the problem.

Spaces of Be(long)ing: The Family Disability Intersectionality CoLLaborative

The purpose of this project is to cultivate generative spaces for emerging and current scholars in education, special education, and related fields that serve, support, or conduct research with disabled people and their families. With the intent and vision of a collaborative writing as well as community-engaged research practices, this collaborative features autobiographical works among individuals who are narrating their own lived experiences, that of their families, or those they support and serve. Additionally, the research is purposeful so as to include participants from historically and multiply marginalized communities so as to center their lived experiences. We anticipate several outcomes through the research and writing works: 1) to capture stories of students with  disabilities, caregivers, and practitioners who describe their own ways of knowing, theorizing, identity affirmations, and life navigation, 2) to implement lived experience within the context of schooling into resources (research articles, book chapters, audio) that people can learn from, in order to advocate for the lives of disabled people, their families, and communities.


Through personal narratives and critical ethnography, this book is a portraiture of disability and love through the lived experiences of disabled young adults, practitioners, emerging professionals, and family members. Drawing from bell hook’s centering of love as transformative praxis, it includes testimonies of people whose lived experience, repositions them as knowledge-bearers, even when their ways of knowing, learning, practicing, and valuing have been discounted by those around them. Each story introduces their life in time and context, valuing them as educators who teach others, both informally and formally. This book is a harmony of generational, familial, collegial, and cultural expressions of love.

Engaging Community in the Development and Implementation of the Trauma Sensitive Pedagogy Project for Early Childhood Education 

This project, in collaboration with Dr. Christy Tirrell-Corbin at the University of Maryland, aimed to engage early childhood educators and community members of a local suburban Maryland elementary school serving predominantly Latinx and Black students and their families. The goal of this community-based participatory research was to engage in, and understand, the evidence-building cycle of program development, implementation, and effectiveness evaluation of the Trauma Sensitive Pedagogy (TSP) curriculum for early childhood educators. Given that most context- and community-specific relevant factors are often missed with the implementation of large-scale trauma-informed interventions, our project involved the voices of the many school and community participants in designing TSP. Evidence-informed mechanisms of change were infused alongside community-level factors that were tested at the pre-scale-up stage to understand what program components required consistency in delivery and what considerations can be made to tailor delivery based on community needs.

Sustainable Professional Learning for Indigenous Character Education Partnership between Navajo Nation Department of Dine Education and Penn State University

The purpose of this project is to gain valuable insights into the ways research institutions can partner with Indigenous nations/communities to support Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. The partnership has followed the lead of the Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education’s (NNDODE) goals to create curriculum and assessments for Diné content standards to support the implementation of the Diné School Accountability Plan as the Navajo Nation becomes a state education agency and restructures the educational relationship with the U.S. Department of Education. Our project team’s specific task is to create and implement curriculum and assessments for the Diné Character Building standards. We currently work with 7-10 Navajo Nation teachers and the Office of Diné School Improvement who have participated in two summer workshops, two mid-year meetings, and monthly meetings throughout the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 academic school years. In the presentation, I will expand on two important considerations as to why this research and work is important:
1.    There is a fraught historical relationship between research universities and Indigenous nations/communities that include assimilative education, colonizing research, and exploitive partnering. This project is a process of healing this relationship and has the potential to inform educational, research, and partnership theory and practice for other research universities and Indigenous nations/communities. 
2.    The Navajo Nation’s inclusion of Diné content standards that supports Diné character building in their schools is creating a pathway for other Indigenous nations to follow. There is very limited research on Indigenous character building curriculum and assessments in the literature. To do this work through Indigenous ways of knowing is difficult because we are trying to use it in a Western educational structure. There are parameters we are working within and findings ways to stretch them. 

Project Team:
Dorthea Litson, Educational Specialist, NNDODE Office of Diné School Improvement, and Dr. Logan Rutten, Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota, and PSU COE Alumni