Spiritual Nonfiction Author
Environmental Educator
Travels from: Asheville, NC

Our Last Best Act will change your death, and maybe even your life.” —Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

Mallory McDuff writes and teaches environmental education at Warren Wilson College, a liberal arts school that integrates academics with work and community engagement. She lives on campus with her two daughters in a 900-square foot house with an expansive view of a white barn, a herd of cows, and the Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina. Her writing examines the intersection of people and places for a better world.

At Warren Wilson College, her students work on campus—driving tractors on the farm, conducting research in the genetics lab, and growing vegetables for the cafeteria. Working in community isn’t easy, but it’s a critical skill to build a just and vibrant future for all. Mallory grew up on the Alabama Gulf Coast in a family that integrated spirituality with environmental stewardship, practices that influence her to this day. With two decades of teaching experience, she engages audiences with both concrete research and compelling stories in lectures and experiential workshops.

Mallory is the author of the books Love Your Mother: 50 States, 50 Stories, and 50 Women United for Climate Justice (Broadleaf Books); Our Last Best Act: Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love (Broadleaf Books); Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth’s Climate (New Society Publishers); Natural Saints: How People of Faith are Working to Save God’s Earth (Oxford University Press) and co-author of Conservation Education and Outreach Techniques, 2nd Ed., (Oxford University Press).

In addition, she has published 20 articles in academic journals and more than 50 essays in The New York Times, The Washington Post, WIRED, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Sojourners, and more. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida, M.S. from the University of South Alabama, and B.S. from Vanderbilt University.

Our Last Best Act: Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love

Broadleaf Books |

As we begin to contemplate death and to embark on practical planning for life’s end, many of us long to leave a legacy beyond a transfer of money and property–one that ensures a sustainable earth for our loved ones, our communities, and generations to come. But where do we even begin?

With the sudden deaths of both of her parents, Mallory McDuff found herself in a similar position. Utterly unprepared both emotionally and practically, she began to research sustainable practices around death and dying, determined to honor their commitment to caring for the earth. For McDuff, an educator and environmentalist, what started as a highly personal endeavor expanded into a yearlong exploration and assessment of green burials, aquamation, green cemeteries, home funerals, and human composting.

In Our Last Best Act, McDuff bridges the gap between environmental action and religious faith by demonstrating that when the two are combined, they become a powerful force for the greater good. Full of practical information and support, this book equips readers to make decisions for their own end-of-life planning. In a world experiencing a climate crisis and a culture that avoids discussions about death and dying, this book opens the conversation about the choices we make–and how it’s possible for our death to honor our values, create a sustainable legacy, and help to heal the earth.

Natural Saints: How People of Faith Are Working to Save God’s Earth

Oxford University Press |

At La Capilla de Santa Mar a, parishioners weatherized their church in an effort to decrease the utility bills that took up a fifth of the annual budget. At Jubilee Community Church, parents and the education coordinator revised the Sunday School curriculum to integrate care of creation for all age levels. And at All People’s Church in Milwaukee, the sanctuary became a free farmer’s market on Sundays with produce grown by youth.

Natural Saints shares the stories and strategies of contemporary church leaders, parishioners, and religious environmentalists working to define a new environmental movement, where justice as a priority for the church means a clean and safe environment for all. Mallory McDuff shows that a focus on God’s earth is transforming both people and congregations, creating more relevant and powerful ministries . As a result, people of faith are forming a new environmental movement with a moral mandate to care for God’s earth.

McDuff highlights eight key ministries: protecting human dignity, feeding the hungry, creating sacred spaces, responding to natural disasters, promoting justice, making a pilgrimage, educating youth, and bearing witness. With two daughters in tow, she traveled across the country to document environmental actions grounded in faith. This journey transformed the author’s own faith and hope for a sustainable future. Congregations and individuals seeking to integrate care of creation into their faith community will find inspiration and concrete advice in the lives of these natural saints.

Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth’s Climate

New Society Publishers |

From evangelicals to Episcopalians, people of faith are mobilizing to confront climate change. This unique anthology brings together stories from all over North America of contemporary church leaders, parishioners, and religious activists who are working to define a new environmental movement, where honoring the Creator means protecting the planet.

Sacred Acts documents the diverse actions taken by churches to address climate change through stewardship, advocacy, spirituality, and justice. Contributions from leading Christian voices such as Norman Wirzba and the Reverend Canon Sally Bingham detail the work of faith communities:

  • Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, where parishioners have enhanced food security by sharing canning and food preservation skills in the church kitchen
  • Georgia’s Interfaith Power & Light, which has used federal stimulus funds help congregations, reduce utility bills, and cut carbon emissions
  • Earth Ministry, where people of faith spearheaded the movement to pass state legislation to make Washington State coal-free.

Sacred Acts shows that churches can play a critical role in confronting climate change—perhaps the greatest moral imperative of our time. This timely collection will inspire individuals and congregations to act in good faith to help protect Earth’s climate.

Conservation Education and Outreach Techniques

Oxford University Press |

The conservation of biological diversity depends on people’s knowledge and actions. This book presents the theory and practice for creating effective education and outreach programmes for conservation. The authors describe an exciting array of techniques for enhancing school resources, marketing environmental messages, using social media, developing partnerships for conservation, and designing on-site programmes for parks and community centres. Vivid case studies from around the world illustrate techniques and describe planning, implementation, and evaluation procedures, enabling readers to implement their own new ideas effectively.

Conservation Education and Outreach Techniques, now in its second edition and updated throughout, includes twelve chapters illustrated with numerous photographs showing education and outreach programmes in action, each incorporating an extensive bibliography. Helpful text boxes provide practical tips, guidelines, and recommendations for further exploration of the chapter topics. This book will be particularly relevant to conservation scientists, resource managers, environmental educators, students, and citizen activists. It will also serve as a handy reference and a comprehensive text for a variety of natural resource and environmental professionals.

Second Edition Published November 1, 2015

Authors Unbound

Love Your Mother: The Powerful, Collaborative Leadership of Women and Climate Justice

Across the world, women and girls are making a collective difference building a future that includes climate justice for all. This talk highlights what we can all learn from the leadership of a diversity of women, drawing on research from Mallory McDuff’s book, Love Your Mother: 50 States, 50 Stories, and 50 Women United for Climate Justice. The lessons learned apply to all who want to create a vibrant and just tomorrow, at home and in the world. Note: This presentation has the capacity to integrate women from the local community who are taking action for the climate, from youth leaders to elder voices.

Authors Unbound

Our Last Best Act: Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love

How do we align our end-of-life choices with our values to protect the Earth? After the sudden deaths of her parents, Mallory McDuff decided to take a one-year journey to revise her final wishes with climate change and community in mind. Her goal was to discover sustainable choices for her body after death and leave a concrete plan for her two daughters. This presentation shares the outcomes of her research and reveals specific options such as green burials, conservation burial grounds, aquamation, home funerals, human composting, end-of-life doulas, and more. Drawing from her book, Our Last Best Act, Mallory shares stories of both levity and loss, as well as the power of talking about death with those we love.

Authors Unbound

Natural Saints: How People of Faith Can Work to Protect Earth’s Climate

With her two daughters, Mallory McDuff traveled across the country to document how faith communities integrate care of creation into their work. This presentation shares the stories from that research and asks congregations to consider how their core ministries could support environmental justice and climate action. This talk/workshop draws from her two books, Natural Saints and Sacred Acts, and shares inspiration and concrete advice for the natural saints among us.

Authors Unbound

Spirituality of Place: Connecting People to Places through Writing

This craft workshop focuses on connecting people to places by tapping into our spiritual connection to the land, water, and air around us. Drawing on themes in her books, Mallory McDuff invites participants to envision a just world for all by writing from our connection to the communities around us.

Authors Unbound

From the Classroom to Community: Using Experiential Education to Create Authentic Partnerships for Climate Action

In her courses at Warren Wilson College, Mallory McDuff connects students to meaningful work and climate action in collaboration with surrounding communities. From designing place-based field trips to teaching cooking lessons for youth, her students form partnerships grounded in experiential learning. This talk/workshop shares concrete examples and lessons learned from 20 years of teaching at a liberal arts college where all students participate in community engagement.
Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee | Our Last Best Act: Interview with Mallory McDuff

Denver Public Library | Our Last Best Act with Author Mallory McDuff & The Natural Funeral

Mallory’s Essays

Mallory’s Hometown Bookstore | Pre-order her new book Love Your Mother

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Faculty Award for Leadership in Community Engagement, Warren Wilson College (2021, 2005)
Climate Reality Leadership Training with Al Gore and Rev. William Barber (2019)
Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Warren Wilson College (2015)
Teaching Excellence Award, Warren Wilson College (2008)
GreenFaith Fellowship to build leaders in a multi-faith movement for climate justice (2007)
Professor of Environmental Education | Warren Wilson College
Ph.D. from the University of Florida
M.S. from the University of South Alabama
B.S. from Vanderbilt University.

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