Meet the future of Sustainability and Development: Jasmyn Noel (MS ’23)
Jasmyn Noel (MS ’23) says she was drawn to the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) because she wanted to learn the skills and concepts needed to contribute to a just and equitable transition in the face of climate change. When looking at the program offerings, it was the impressive faculty with a balance of academics and practitioners, as well as the capstone project experience, that made her feel that she could achieve her goals by pursuing a graduate degree at SEAS.
In particular, Noel was interested in the Sustainability and Development specialization because of her passion for both social and environmental development through climate action, especially for communities disproportionately affected by climate change. After starting her studies at SEAS, she added a second specialization, Geospatial Data Sciences, because she discovered that she enjoyed analyzing and visualizing complex environmental data.
Noel's interests led to her involvement in a capstone project focused on developing robust and effective ecotourism materials surrounding a network of ancient dry stone-carved footpaths crisscrossing the island of Naxos, Greece. “Our project aims to promote sustainable livelihoods and development on an island experiencing economic impoverishment due to the unfettered impacts of mass tourism,” says Noel. She has also been working as a research assistant supporting the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA). Her research with GLISA focused on expanding stormwater adaptation capacity in the Gulf region by scaling-up vulnerability assessment for extreme events.
Noel plans to move back to the Northern Virginia-DC area to work in the sustainability and development field, most likely through a think tank or nongovernmental organization. She says she’s excited to support sustainable livelihoods and well-being through innovative and equitable climate and development strategies. “We are in such a crucial time regarding the climate crisis, and the innovation and passion from my colleagues here at SEAS, and around the world, make me hopeful that we can make a difference,” says Noel.
Reflecting on the experience of attending SEAS
For Noel, the most significant thing that she has learned at SEAS is the importance of using relationships and coalition building as a tool for making effective change. The Indigenous Sustainability and Environmental Justice course she took with Kyle Whyte and Malu Castro (a PhD student) was especially impactful in this realm, as well as the opportunity to study alongside a community of socially and environmentally conscious peers. Some other favorite classes include Climate and Development with Maria Carmen-Lemos, Conservation and Development with Bilal Butt, and Program Evaluation for Sustainability and Development with Pamela Jagger.
Noel says that studying at SEAS helped her chart her career path with confidence. “Coming to SEAS months after my undergraduate graduation, I felt confused about what exactly I wanted to do in my future career. My experience at SEAS helped me solidify my interests and establish what I wanted to do in my career, and where. I also gained a wealth of knowledge and skills to build credibility and expertise in this field.”