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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.  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

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., Stanić, S., Horvatek, R., & Maselli, A. (Eds.) (2021). Rural youth at the crossroads: Transitional societies in Central Europe and beyond. New York: Routledge.

Peine, E., Azano, A., & Schafft, K.A. (2020) Beyond cultural and structural explanations of regional underdevelopment: Identity and dispossession in Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies, 26(1), 40-56.

Schafft, K.A., Brasier, K.B., & Hesse, A. (2019). Reconceptualizing rapid energy resource development and its impacts: Thinking regionally, spatially and intersectionally. Journal of Rural Studies, 68, 296-305.

Brown, D. L., & Schafft, K. A. (2019).  Rural people and communities in the twenty-first century: Resilience and transformation (revised and updated second edition). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Schafft, K.A., & Ferkovics, R. (2018). Roma political agency and spaces of social inclusion and exclusion: Dissembling the local meanings of Roma self-governance amidst the rise of Hungary’s radical right. Ethnic & Racial Studies 41(11), 2009-2027.

Frankenberg E., Kotok, S., Schafft, K., Mann, B. (2017). Exploring school choice and the consequences for student racial segregation within Pennsylvania’s charter school transfers.  Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25(22), 1-30.

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.

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.