Mary Summers directs "Problem-Solving Learning" courses and associated service-learning projects and speakers' programs. She was the principal investigator for a grant from the USDA to the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger for the development of a Food Stamp Enrollment Campaign that assists hundreds of clients a month. The West Philadelphia Recess Initiative, in which Penn students organize games at recess in two West Philadelphia Schools, grew out of her Healthy Schools course with support from the Graduate School of Education and the Netter Center. Summers' research focuses on food, agricultural and educational institutions. She has written articles for The Nation, Urban Affairs Quarterly, PS: Political Science and Politics, Agricultural History and several edited volumes. She has also worked in health care as a Physician Assistant and in electoral politics as a speechwriter for Jesse Jackson, Harriett Woods, Dennis Kucinich, and John Daniels, the first African American mayor of New Haven. She is also a Resident Senior Fellow in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsyvlania.
- American politics and political thought
- Interest groups, social movements, and public policy
- Politics of food, agriculture, the environment, health, labor, race, education, social welfare and service learning