The University of South Dakota (USD) will begin using the Missouri River as a tool for teaching earth science and sustainability next year through a $43,620 grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) InTeGrate project.
The NSF project funds initiatives that use earth science as a means of connecting people to a broader awareness of social issues.
“When you are trying to affect change and make the world a better place, it’s important to ground sustainability issues for students in a place where they live, in a place that they know,” Assistant Professor of Biology and Sustainability Program Coordinator Meghann Jarchow said.
USD faculty across several disciplines -- including anthropology, biology, communication studies, earth sciences, economics, English, native studies, history, and sustainability -- have agreed to all craft curriculum that uses the river as a focus for addressing relevant subject matter, creating a place-based educational experience to which students will hopefully relate.
“The Missouri River is the spine of South Dakota and most of the students at USD are native South Dakotans,” Associate Professor of Earth Sciences Mark Sweeney said. “They probably have some connection to the river, be it recreation, or fishing or living next to the river and using the river’s resources.”
The program is funded and planned for one year.