Awards honoring outstanding leadership and service to the College will be presented June 2, 2018, during Reunion Convocation. Read about the other award recipients.
Viktoria Paulick Keding, a member of the Class of 1998, is a pioneer and leader in the field of environmental education, having spearheaded a movement in southwestern Africa to equip residents and their communities with the skills and knowledge to understand, appreciate, benefit from, and conserve their unique natural environment.
At Bowdoin she was a standout student, majoring in German and environmental studies and minoring in anthropology, and graduating magna cum laude. George Lincoln Skolfield Jr. Professor of German Emeritus Steven Cerf described Keding as “dedicated,” “patient,” and “centered,” calling her “a true winner.”
After graduation she moved to Namibia to volunteer with the environmental education organization WorldTeach, and has remained in that country ever since, committed to bettering its environment and the lives of its people. While there, she attained a master’s degree in sustainable development from the University of London.
In 2003, Keding cofounded the nonprofit Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET), located in Namibia’s namesake Namib Desert. She and her staff provide hands-on environmental education designed to foster awareness and appreciation of that ecosystem and to teach and promote environmentally sustainable skills, practices, and attitudes.
She has led the organization since starting it with her husband, infusing schools and communities throughout Namibia with an understanding of the importance of environmental conservation and providing these communities with practical experience and tools to better steward their surroundings. NaDEET was selected a key partner of the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) for Education for Sustainable Development (2015-2019).
Keding is recognized as an influential and successful leader in the fields of environmental education and sustainability, being named as a Namibian Climate Change Ambassador and receiving the Windhoek Lager Ambassador Conservation Award in 2014. In 2017, she was awarded first place at the Yves Rocher Fondation-Trophée de Femmes-Germany, an award that honors women “who do great things for the environment and work for the common good.”
For extraordinary contributions to environmental education in her adopted country of Namibia, her impact on the fields of environmental education and conservation worldwide, and for inspiring countless students to understand, care for, and protect their natural surroundings, Bowdoin is presenting Keding with the 2018 Common Good Award.
Established in 1994 on the occasion of the Bowdoin College Bicentennial, the Common Good Award honors those alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary, profound, and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gain in wealth or status.
Common Good Award recipients personify the idea of the common good as set forth by Bowdoin’s first president, Joseph McKeen. In his inaugural address on September 2, 1802, McKeen reminded his audience, “It ought always to be remembered that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education. It is not that they may be able to pass through life in an easy and reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society.”
The Common Good Award will be presented, along with others, Saturday, June 2, 2018, during Reunion Convocation.