Penn State Center Philadelphia appoints director to help address social issues

Kristen Goessling
Credit: Michael McDade / Penn State. Creative Commons

PHILADELPHIA — The Penn State Center Philadelphia, an initiative of Penn State Outreach, has announced the appointment of Kristen Goessling as director of participatory action research (PAR). She is already a well-known change-maker in the areas of food justice and participatory field research and is the founder and principal investigator for the Philadelphia Participatory Research Collective.

“I started collaborating with the Penn State Center Philadelphia in my previous position as a tenure-track faculty member at Penn State Brandywine and as part of a task force of parents, educators, union leaders, young people, organizers and advocates who organized for Philadelphia public schools,” Goessling said. “We were fighting to bring community schools to Philadelphia and assisted in designing and implementing a program to foster family, parent and community leaders across the city.”

Goessling said this productive collaboration led her to become a co-founder of the Penn State Center’s Philadelphia Participatory Research Collective.

“My primary objectives are to advance PAR as a best practice for community-university partnerships and community engaged research by establishing a Participatory Research Hub that supports innovative participatory initiatives to advance equity and justice in and beyond the Philadelphia area,” Goessling said.

Goessling brings more than 15 years of experience that will inform how she leads, cultivates and supports participatory initiatives designed to address grassroots needs.

Goessling said this area of work is still in the incubation phase and has the potential to become a comprehensive initiative that weaves together past projects such as the People’s Kitchen, building upon existing and growing new partnerships to address some of the city’s most pressing social issues, including food insecurity, community violence and safety, collective trauma, economic development, and social justice youth development.

“Kristen has been a long-standing partner in advancing the important work of the center and I’m pleased she’ll be leading efforts to further advance PAR throughout Philadelphia and beyond,” said Richard Smith, director of community engagement for Penn State Outreach. “The establishment of a Participatory Research Hub will, undoubtedly, enhance existing efforts in collaborating with others to address numerous challenges facing communities.”