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From Trash-Free Fridays to Aspen Institute Future Leader: One Nathanson Fellow’s Story

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Meghan Franklin

Advancement Writer

News  •
Julia DeTar
Julia DeTar

Julia DeTar remembers what sparked her interest in the environment and ultimately led her to the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies.  

DeTar’s sixth grade teacher, Pauline Roberts, pulled a bag of trash from the school cafeteria and sifted through it to show how much could be recycled. 

Roberts challenged her class to make a positive difference for the environment. In response, they implemented “trash-free Fridays,” which DeTar says made a significant difference in how much trash her school produced. DeTar was hooked on making a difference.  

Fast forward more than a decade, and DeTar is set to graduate from Korbel this June with her M.A. in international studies, with certificates in global business and corporate social responsibility, and a specialization in environmental sustainability. 

DeTar is part of the Nathanson Fellows Program, a partnership between Korbel and the Aspen Institute designed to challenge tomorrow’s leaders to think critically about and propose solutions to the major challenges facing the United States and the world.  

During their appointment, Nathanson Fellows work at the Aspen Institute, applying their graduate coursework to Aspen Institute programs under the direction of Institute staff. 

The program is named for DU alums Jane Nathanson and Marc Nathanson, an Aspen Institute Trustee who currently serves as U.S. ambassador to Norway. The Nathansons established the fellows program at DU to foster collaboration between the two organizations and provide students with opportunities to work and learn at a world-renowned policy organization. 

Korbel School Dean Fritz Mayer says, “By connecting students with the expertise of the Aspen Institute and providing them with the financial support to focus on their future careers, the Nathansons have helped to shape these Fellows’ futures and empowered them in their quest to be change-makers.” 

While DeTar says her entire experience at Korbel has been outstanding, her time as a Nathanson fellow has been particularly meaningful in preparing her for the future.  As a member of the Aspen Institute’s climate and environment team, DeTar researched and helped secure climate leaders to speak at the recent Aspen Ideas Climate Festival.  

“My experience at the Aspen Institute drastically changed how I view my future. I learned so much actually doing the work that I’ve been learning about,” DeTar says. “Not only did I gain knowledge on a range of environmental issues, but I also learned about what being in the workplace–nonprofits, specifically–was like.” 

“After working with the Aspen Institute, my heart is set on working for a nonprofit. Everyone (at the Aspen Institute) really cared about their jobs, and they were kind and passionate. I would love to surround myself with people like that in my future career,” she says.  

Another benefit of her time at the Aspen Institute: DeTar was one of 200 out of 900 applicants selected for a Future Leaders Program. As a Future Leader, she recently convened with young leaders who are working on or studying climate-related issues before the Aspen Ideas Climate Festival. 

“Meeting young people from all over the world who are doing climate-related work was an invaluable learning experience and networking opportunity,” DeTar says. 

To learn more about supporting experiential learning opportunities for Korbel students, contact Julie DeWoody, executive director of development at Korbel, at