The Office for Sustainability celebrates our friends and colleagues who work tirelessly to advance sustainability on campus and in the community. We call such individuals Sustainability Champions, because they are champions helping us create a culture of sustainability while improving quality of life for all.
Dr. Denise Keele, professor of political science and environment and sustainability
Dr. Denise Keele
Dr. Denise Keele is an associate professor of political science and environment and sustainability at Western Michigan University. Keele recently won the Climate Champion Award through the Michigan Climate Action Network for her outstanding climate and justice work which we’d like to acknowledge. She educates students about climate change while creating a sense of community for a growing network of stakeholders working on climate change solutions. From being the chair of both the WMU Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) and the Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition (KCCC), to working with legislators and promoting civic engagement, Keele has devoted much of her time to successful local sustainability initiatives. She is a big advocate for students to find their community and to remain involved because collaboration creates an environment for lasting social change.
“It really is the other folks and seeing all the things that they end up doing that I would have never dreamed of on my own that keeps me fulfilled, sustained and just hopeful.”
Keele recognizes the many different facets of environmentalism and puts them to practice in the classroom. For example, she connects students with local legislators and mentors them on environmental politics and policy to advocate for local change. She also leads important chats, such as the Politics of Biodiversity Protection. She has been known to make the discussion of climate change accessible in every classroom and promote it to other educators too.
Keele’s students and colleagues often note her ability to connect intergenerational groups that work well together. Through her work with CCWG and KCCC, she acknowledges the climate emergency while connecting everyone to foster a sustainable future for our planet.
“As long as we are learning together there really [are] no bounds. We are humans in this world and part of education should be about being citizens and knowing what we need to know to be a constructive part of society.”