Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2022

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Meghann Jarchow

Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph Kantenbacher

Third Advisor

Dr. Brennan Jordan


sustainability, education, undergraduate sustainability, sustainability program

Subject Categories

Adult and Continuing Education | Curriculum and Instruction


The concept of sustainability is taught and understood in multiple ways, and how one perceives sustainability is likely to affect how they engage with the field. This thesis research focuses on sustainability faculty and undergraduate students at the University of South Dakota and how they perceive sustainability education. I conducted semistructured interviews to determine faculty and student perspectives regarding sustainability, sustainability education, and the undergraduate sustainability curriculum at the University of South Dakota. There are many different ways to approach sustainability such as content knowledge, systems thinking, and an interdisciplinary approach. Overall, the perceptions of sustainability education from the participants were cohesive and aligned well. The participants sustainability definitions aligned with the Brundtland Commission definition and the widely acknowledged “three pillars”. Climate change and resource management were identified as common issues within the field of sustainability. A mix of many different curricular styles and structures such as the interdisciplinary approach and content matter including understanding the earth’s systems and climate change were shared as valuable pieces of sustainability education. Currently, these styles, structures, and content matter are reflected in the undergraduate sustainability curriculum at the University of South Dakota. However, based on feedback from the interviews I provide possible improvements for the sustainability undergraduate curriculum including class offerings, expansions within the Department of Sustainability & Environment, and creating a more navigable catalog.



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