Curriculum and Research


Kate Sheppard '06Kate Sheppard '06
Staff reporter at Mother Jones magazine, focusing on energy, environment, and health.

Kate Sheppard ’06 majored in Journalism and Politics. Currently, she works as a staff reporter at Mother Jones magazine, mainly focusing on energy, environment, and health. She’s also working on a project that is looking at sea level rise and adaptation to climate change. In general, Kate covers the politics of energy and environment and human response to those challenges.

Kate takes a broad view on sustainability; she doesn’t just focus on the environmental, but on the social aspects as well. She works for the best future of everyone. Most of her volunteer work focuses on issues of homelessness, poverty, and education. She is a volunteer writing coach with Street Sense, a biweekly newspaper for and by the homeless community of Washington, DC. Kate is also a member of the advisory board for the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University. In addition, Kate volunteers as a “fundracer” for Back on My Feet, a program that uses running as a means of empowerment and confidence-building for people who are experiencing homelessness.

Kate has primarily covered energy and environment since she graduated. In the past, she was an intern at Grist (the online environmental magazine) for a year, and then a writing fellow at The American Prospect. She later returned to Grist as their political reporter, where she worked for another year and a half. She has been at Mother Jones for the past three years.

While at Ithaca, Kate went to a few ICES meetings, but was not really involved in sustainability. Her focus as an undergrad was more on media. She was editor of Buzzsaw and wrote for the Ithacan, though some of what she covered included sustainability. Though she was not directly involved in sustainability, she did gain great experience. The Ithacan exposed her to all kinds of people and ideas on and off campus, and opportunities it provided for her to travel abroad, which helped her see the environmental issues around the world. Grist really sparked her interest in sustainability specifically. She wants to work toward a fair, sustainable, and just future for everyone, and protecting the environment and all of us who rely on it is part of that. As she started getting involved, she realized how expansive sustainability was, involving things such as energy, housing, food, transportation, international relations, and more. She loved how it was consistently challenging and eye opening. In this line of work, Kate feels she learns something new and useful everyday.

One of Kate’s big interests is in how to make media sustainable from a business standpoint. She believes we need to build more media models that aren’t dependent solely on bid advertisers, that aren’t talking over people’s heads, and that are providing much-needed information to people. Kate hopes to start a graduate program in media entrepreneurship next year.

Kate encourages students at Ithaca to get a well-rounded education. She was a student who avoided math and lab science courses because she thought she wasn’t good at them, but today they have been useful to her. Even being in the Park school she was a little afraid of technology and so avoided learning the great technology available, such as cameras and computer programs. “I wish I'd gotten a better grasp on some of that technology while I had it at my disposal because I know now that telling stories as best you can in as many forms of media as you can is really key. Our need for information is ever-increasing, but we need to figure out how to best deliver it.”