About Us


The Center for Sustainability was formed in 2012 after the Sustainability Council realized that in order to take the necessary steps to achieve real progress, a full-time sustainability staff member was necessary. From a small office space in Johnson McFarlane Hall, Chad King and a handful of students began looking for opportunities to solve some of DU's most pressing issues. This small team started a bike shop, began the Zero Waste hockey program and began engaging campus partners to bring sustainability to their departments.

The Center for Sustainability grew quickly from a small group of dedicated students and a single full-time coordinator to a lively, accomplished community of passionate undergraduate students, graduate fellows and two full-time staff members. 

In the Fall of 2022, an entirely new leadership team joined the Center, who, along with the interns and fellows at the Center, are helping co-create a transition away from sustainability towards a regenerative future. This transition represents a paradigm shift, and the Center is actively working with the rest of the DU community to move beyond sustaining “business as usual,” and toward a way of being that is holistic and that creates a livable future for all. In a regenerative future, humans are allowing the Earth and all ecosystems to heal while also focusing on healing relationships with ourselves, each other, and with other species.  

As part of this transition, the Center co-created six values that we organize all of programs around:

  • Education: We believe that equipping our community with accurate information and thinking skills (critical, creative, systems) empowers them to take intentional and meaningful action to address social-ecological injustices.  
  • Equity & Justice: We uplift the connection between social and ecological sustainability and work to address systemic inequities with local action and by improving access to services and information. We recognize and work to address the role that power, privilege and oppression play in exacerbating or addressing social-ecological injustices.  
  • Ecological Care: Taking a living systems approach to our work, we uphold the imperative of caring for ourselves, one another, our non-human kin, and the natural world through mindful and needs-based consumption and engaging in regenerative practices that create systems and ways of being that allow for all to flourish.  
  • Empowered Communities: We learn from and partner with community partners on and off-campus to advance our knowledge and skills to address social-ecological injustices. Our community partnerships are grounded in reciprocity, cultural and intellectual humility, and a deep, shared commitment to elevating the well-being of all humans and the more-than-human world.   
  • Hopeful & Intentional Practice: We support one another through the emotions associated with global environmental change while practicing optimistic realism. We choose to focus our energy on taking meaningful and informed action, building structures and systems that are emergent and inclusive, and focusing on what’s in our control. 
  • Interconnectedness: We uplift living systems and demonstrate our interconnectedness with other humans, other species, and the natural world through our culture, communication, curriculum, programming, research, and partnerships. 

Our work happens all over the DU campus, operating the Crimson Crank, our bike shop in the basement of Nagel Hall, the Food Pantry in Driscoll Commons, and the Thrift Store on the first floor of Centennial Halls. Additionally, our Engagement team produces the "This Week in Sustainability Topics" news letter (TWIST), organizes several events and workshops throughout the year, and have other un-announced project's in the works. The Center for a Regenerative Future's headquarters is on the first floor of the Community Commons (next to Starbucks) - there you will find a welcoming space to discuss regenerative projects, find community and forge relationships with those who share passions and values. 

Learn more about the Center's leadership team below!


Meet the Faculty Director

Headshot of Sarah Bexell

Sarah M. Bexell, PhD is Faculty Director of the Center for a Regenerative Future in 2020. She is also Clinical Associate Professor with the Graduate School of Social Work, and the Director of Humane Education with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection all at the University of Denver. She teaches and does research in the areas of ecological justice, humane education, and animal protection. 

Sarah can be reached at Sarah.Bexell@du.edu. 

Meet the Assistant Director

Julia Senecal headshot

Julia E. Senecal, LSW is Assistant Director of the Center for a Regenerative Future in 2020. She is also the Humane Education Research Projects Manager at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection within the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. Her background in public K-12 education as both a teacher and a mental health professional support her in developing and implementing ecological-social justice curriculum and research initiatives that empower youth to engage in practices that support global and ecological justice, regeneration, and equity for humans, animals, and the natural world.

Julia can be reached at Julia.Senecal@du.edu 

Meet the Program Manager

Headshot of Derek Brannon

Derek Brannon, M. Ed., joined the Center for a Regenerative Future in 2020 as a Graduate Fellow. As a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction, he spent his first year developing curriculum for the Center. In February 2022, Derek became the Program Coordinator, and later the Program Manager, which sees him spending time with, and programming for, the undergraduate interns and graduate fellows of the Center. Derek grew up in Colorado, developing a deep love of the local environment and spent much of his career, before coming to DU, teaching K-12 students at the Colorado History Center.

Derek can be reached at: derek.brannon@du.edu