To further an effort to become a “green” university, USD is pursuing a graduate program in sustainability.
Meghann Jarchow, the sustainability coordinator and associate professor is going through the motions in order to get the graduate program approved and running.
Jarchow said that the process started with the grant money that was received. With that, she can put together the initial plans. After the initial plans are put together, administrators will have to create the new graduate degree program form, which outlines the curriculum and administration for the program. Then the South Dakota Board of Regents will look at the new graduate degree program form and will decide if there is enough capacity for such a program, Jarchow said. Lastly, experts in the field of sustainability will come in to take a final look at the program to see how well it will prepare students.
Jarchow said she believes the program she is currently putting together will be a good one for USD to have.
“We are well-poised to do graduate education in sustainability— and so, when you talk about sustainability, people often talk about three pillars: environmental conservation, social justice and economic sustainability,” she said. “To me it seems like it’s an advantage of allowing us to offer an interdisciplinary degree and pull together a lot of the strengths that we already have.”
Jarchow said the South Dakota Board of Regents would only turn down the program if they thought that USD didn’t have the capacity for it, or if it didn’t fit in the plans they have for South Dakota’s schools. She did, however, say it seems to meet multiple strategic objectives they have.
If USD is approved to have this graduate program in sustainability, Jarchow said it would be the third in the nation.
“The idea is that this should attract students from all over,” Jarchow said.
Amanda Hegg, a senior sustainability and biology double major, said having this graduate program would set USD apart from other universities.
“This is very unique and one of a kind,” Hegg said. “Not many places have something like this. There is such a broad range of things you can do underneath sustainability — you can do anything with it. You can go into pretty much anything you have in mind if you focus your efforts in one way within the graduate program.”
Hegg said she believes Vermillion is the perfect place to study sustainability, so having a graduate program here would be beneficial to the students.
“The aim is to make Vermillion a small, green little city in South Dakota,” Hegg said. “Vermillion is the perfect place to get an idea of how sustainability works because of the community involvement with it.”