About the Director

Kate Destler

Kate Destler is Associate Professor of Political Science in American Politics and Public Policy at Western Washington University and assumed the role of Director of the Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education in 2021.  

A passionate educator, Kate’s career began in the K-12 classroom working with elementary, middle and high school students and those initial experiences shaped her ideas about civic education, citizenship, and what it means to be an active contributor in a democratic society.   Today, as a faculty member in the Political Science department, Kate teaches courses on American Democracy and the Politics of Education, Urban Politics and Public Policy, Bureaucratic Politics, Understanding Public Problems and Policy Solutions, and Policy Making and Policy Analysis.  Her research on education policy and civic education highlights the importance of schools both as sites of civic interaction and as public goods that inspire political action.

Now, as she takes on the leadership of the Munro Institute, Kate’s goals for the Institute “are both simple and complex.  I want the Institute to continue to build opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders—K-12 students and educators, the Western community, and residents of Bellingham and Washington state more broadly, and even policymakers themselves—to look past partisan soundbites and simple answers to understand the complex and nuanced public challenges which we face today, and to encounter promising solutions, even if—or perhaps especially if—those solutions come from unexpected sources.  I also want the Institute to be a force for supporting and encouraging active citizenship— bringing, in particular, historically disenfranchised groups into the political conversation.”