Meghann Morrissey Jarchow ’03 is educating future environmentalists

Sustainability is becoming a leading force in a world of increasingly complex environmental and social issues. Yet only 12 universities across the country offer an undergraduate general sustainability degree.

Meghann Morrissey Jarchow ’03 of Vermillion, South Dakota, coordinates one such program at the University of South Dakota where she is an assistant professor of sustainability in the department of biology.

“It is an emerging field, and with environmental and social justice challenges looming with issues where there are no right answers, training students is important,” Jarchow says. “Skills that are needed to deal with complex problems are not always addressed in more traditional majors. Sustainability is an exciting new field that trains students to troubleshoot real-world issues.”

Careers that could benefit from sustainability majors include natural resources, nonprofits, social justice, community planning, promotion of businesses with environmentally conscious practices, and consultation with businesses wanting to incorporate them, Jarchow says.

Originally from Brandon, South Dakota, Jarchow and her twin sister, Kate Morrissey Stahl ’03, both graduated from Ripon College. Starting with her work at the Ceresco Prairie Conservancy at Ripon College and continuing with her post-graduate studies, Jarchow’s training is in environmental conservation. She currently studies tall grass prairie conservation and using prairies for bioenergy.

“The world has a lot of pressing challenges, including climate change, extreme poverty, loss of biodiversity and loss of environment,” Jarchow says. “Sustainability is one field looking to address those issues. It’s a process for thinking about how we might leave the world as a more desirable place.”


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