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The USD Sustainability Program is in its eighth year and is continuing to grow and attract students from across the country. Because of this exciting growth, Sustainability & Environment formally became a new department within the USD College of Arts & Sciences in 2017. To give our students a space to call “home” and have updated technology for them to use, our project is to convert a former student lounge into the Sustainability Solutions Cooperative. The Sustainability Solutions Cooperative will be a space where undergraduate and graduate sustainability students can come together to do homework, work on class projects, gather for student organizations meetings, and meet to work on implementing sustainability projects.
Sustainability asks the questions “What kind of world do we want?” and “How can we effect change to create that world?” through increasing human well-being and enhancing the natural environment. Therefore, sustainability is an interdisciplinary field that is future looking and solutions oriented. It strives to solve issues like poverty, biodiversity loss, pollution, and social injustice.
At USD, we offer an undergraduate major and minor in sustainability, along with M.S. and Ph.D. programs. These degree programs are unique because students are required to take a wide variety of classes. Biology, economics, earth sciences, public policy, chemistry, statistics, sociology — these are all courses encompassed into a sustainability degree.
Many of our students are active in working to tackle sustainability challenges on campus, in our community, and beyond. For example, our students are involved with “Greening Vermillion,” a nonprofit with the purpose of bringing people together to conserve natural resources in our area. Teams of students have also competed in the annual Hult Prize competition—an international competition that aims to solve a pressing social problem by developing for-profit startup businesses that address the issue.
Having space for sustainability students to come together to work on addressing sustainability challenges is essential. Our students have the dedication, skill and forward-thinking ideas to solve the challenges that threaten the world, and we want to give them a space that encourages them to do so.
We will fully remodel a former library/student lounge to make it more usable for sustainability students to come together to do individual and group work including connecting with students from other campuses. We will buy new furniture and white boards; a large, wall-mounted TV monitor for groups to work on presentations and connect with others from different institutions; and items for a small business center.
We have been working to clean out the space (images above), and plan to develop a more inviting and usable space (example of possible furniture in image below).
You are also welcome to contact Dr. Meghann Jarchow, Chair of the Department of Sustainability & Environment, for more information.
Please consider donating and/or sharing this project with others who you think would be able to help us make a better space for our students.