Brendan Barrett

Academic Programme Officer/Head of Communications

  • Brendan Barrett
    UNU Office of Communications
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    Research Interests

    • Sustainability Science
    • Science Communications
    • Environmental Assessment
    • Energy security
    • Disaster Management
    • Urban planning
    • Social media
    • Online Learning
    • Open Educational Resources
    • Climate Change
    • Human Security


    Ph.D., Local Agenda and Environmental Management in Japan and the U.K., Oxford Brookes University, School of Planning, Faculty of Environmental Studies
    BSc.(Hons) in Town and Country Planning, Heriot-Watt University, Department of Town and Country Planning


    2006 to date: Member of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication
    2001-2007: Member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Services Research
    1999-2005: International Advisory Editor for the Australian Journal of Environmental Education
    1987-2005: Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, England
    1999 to date: Member of the UNU ISO14001 Steering Group from May 1999 responsible for establishing the UNU Environmental Management System.
    2009 to date: Visiting Associate Professor, University of Agder
    2013 to date: Visiting Associate Professor, University of Tokyo

    Biographical Statement

    Brendan heads a team of professionals in the UNU Office of Communications which is responsible for the provision of a comprehensive range of communication and digital services. These include public relations; maintenance of institutional links with key media partners; provision of design, brand/identity and production support for UNU research; provision of support with web development and content management; and provision of editorial support. In addition, the UNU Office of Communications provides a range of audio visual and creative services including interactive media, video documentaries and interviews, as well as audio podcasts.

    Brendan’s professional interests lie at the intersection between environmental sustainability, human security, science communications and learning. He joined the UNU in 1996 as a Ph.D. fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies. He became a research fellow in 1997 and undertook research on the impact of information technology on communications and education related to the local environment (through the Iwate Environment Network project), including the emergence of virtual universities and online learning.

    He was appointed Academic Programme Officer at the UNU Centre in 2002 and set up the UNU Media Studio. He has overseen the development of a range of online educational projects that focus on environmental and natural resource management issues. He also participated in various international collaborations including the implementation of the Global Virtual University (2002-2007), as the UNU focal point for the World Summit on the Information Society (2002 to 2005) and in facilitating the on-going Asia Pacific Initiative from 2002 to today. From 2006 onwards, he became a member of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication. In 2011, he was invited to be a peer reviewer for the Zero Order Draft of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report.

    Over the past 10 years, Brendan has mainly been concerned with how best to effectively communicate complex scientific issues. This led to various experiments using the web, social media and online educational tools. The most recent example is the 2008 launch of the UNU’s web magazine – Our World. The magazine and associated video documentaries have won a number of awards for the innovative approach taken to communicating UNU’s research and in the use of social media.

    Prior to joining UNU, Brendan worked as a programme officer at the United Nations Environment Programme’s International Environmental Technology Centre based in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. In the early 1990s, he had the opportunity to put his research ideas in practice as an environmental planner with Ove Arup & Partners and Cobham Resource Consultants coordinating teams involved with the environmental assessment of motorway widening projects, airport developments and power stations.

    He has nearly 30 years experience in environmental management research and practice. His initial research specialization as an undergraduate at Heriot-Watt University was social impact assessment with a particular emphasis on the measurement of the economic consequences of industrial plant closures using economic multiplier models. Subsequently, he focused on the socio-economic assessment of nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom as a consultant in the Power Station Impacts Research Team based in Oxford.

    Brendan has considerable teaching experience and has been facilitating a range of online, video conference based and face to face courses. The topics he teaches on includes: human development and the environment, local environmental governance in a global framework, major social theories and the environment, environmental symbiosis and ethics, climate change, energy security, food security, environmental assessment, as well as science communication, open education and learning, presentation skills and social media. He is currently teaching two courses as part of the UNU Masters in Sustainability.

    He is particularly concerned with the measurement of both the quality of student experiences of learning online and on the effectiveness of various online tools to support the communication of scientific research outcomes. He has published several papers on student online learning strategies, on the need to enhance science communication and on the value of openness in relation to learning, science, academic publishing and researcher engagement with non-specialists.

  • Peer-reviewed Books

    • Barrett, B.F.D. (ed) (2005), Ecological Modernisation and Japan, Routledge Curzon, Abingdon and New York.
    • Van Ginkel, H., Barrett, B.F.D., Court, J. and Velasquez G. (eds), (2002) Human Development and the Environment: Challenges for the United Nations in the New Millennium, UNU Press, Tokyo.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., and Therivel, R.B. (1991) Environmental Policy and Impact Assessment in Japan, published by the Routledge Publishing Company, Chapman and Hall Ltd. in Jan. 1991.

    Peer-reviewed Book Chapters

    • Barrett, B.F.D., Notaras, M. and Smith, C. (2014) Communicating Scientific Research Through the Web and Social Media: Experience of the United Nations University with the Our World 2.0 Web Magazine, in Tong, V.C.H. (ed) Geoscience Research and Outreach: Schools and Public Engagement, Springer.

    Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

    • Barrett, B.F.D., Ellis, R.A., Higa, C. (2012), Emerging University Student Experience of Learning Technologies across Asia Pacific, International Journal of Computers and Education, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 1021-1027.
    • Ellis, R.A., Barrett, B.F.D., Higa, C. (2011), Student experiences of learning technologies in the Asia Pacific Region, Asia Pacific Researcher, Vol 20, No.11, pp 103-117.
    • Barrett, B.F.D, V.I. Grover, V.I., Janowski, T., van Lavieren, H., Ojo, A., and Schmidt. P., (2009), Challenges in the adoption and use Open courseware – Experience of the United Nations University, The Journal of Open and Distance Learning.
    • Barrett, B.F.D, Patron, L., and Ellis, R.A., (2008) University teacher approaches to design and teaching of case studies using ICTs: virtual ‘Field Trips’, UNESCO Prospects Journal, Volume 38, Number 4.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., Kuroda, A. and Miyamoto, K., (2002) Ecological Modernisation, Environmental Knowledge and Societal Change: Attitudes and Behaviour of Young People in Japan, Journal of International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, Volume 11, No.3, pp. 237-261.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., and Usui, M., (2002) Local Agenda 21 in Japan – Transforming Local Environmental Governance, Local Environment Journal, Vol.7, No.1 pp.49-67.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., and Usui, M., (2001) The “LA21″ Platform for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of the Recent Experience in Japan and the UK, Cross-cultural Business and Cultural Studies, Vol.5, No.1.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., (2000) Decentralization in Japan – Negotiating the Transfer of Authority, Journal of Japanese Studies, Carfax, England, Volume 20, No.1, pp.33-66.
    • Barrett, B.F.D. (1999), Environmentalism in Periods of Rapid Societal Transformation: Legacy of the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom and the Meiji Restoration in Japan, Sustainable Development Journal, published by Wiley, Volume 7, Number 4, pp178-190.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., (1995) From Environmental Auditing to Integrated Environmental Management – Local Government Experience in the United Kingdom and Japan, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Volume 38, Number 3.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., (1994) Integrated Environmental Management in Japan: Experience of Osaka Prefectural Government, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 40.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., (1990) Environmental Impact Assessment in Japan As Seen From the West, (in Japanese) in the Kogai Kenkyu Journal, July.
    • Barrett, B.F.D. and Therivel, R.B, (1990) Airport Developments and Environmental Impact Assessment: Kansai International Airport, Japan, by in the Land Use Policy Journal, Vol 7, No 3, pp 80.
    • Barrett, B.F.D. and Therivel, R.B, (1989) Environmental Impact Assessment in Japan: Environmental Protection vs. Economic Growth, Land Use Policy Journal, Vol 6, No 3, pp 217.
    • Glasson, J., Van Der Wee, M. and Barrett, B.F.D., (1988) Economic Multiplier Analysis of the Proposed Nuclear Power Station at Hinkley Point, Urban Studies Journal – Vol 25, No 3.

    Technical Papers, Policy Briefs, etc

    • Williams, C., Galloway McLean, K., Raygorodetsky, G., Ramos-Castillo, A. and Barrett, B.F.D. (2013) Traditional Knowledge & Climate Science Toolkit (in 5 languages), United Nations University.
    • Laura Cocora, L., Moreno-Peñaranda, R., Barrett B.F.D. and MacDonald, A., (2011) Biodiversity in Kanazawa: Through the Four Seasons, United Nations University.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., (2002) Implications of the Information Society for Local Environmental Governance and the Monitoring of Environmental Change, UNU/IAS Working Paper No.97, January, Tokyo, Japan.
    • Barrett, B.F.D. and Kuroda A., Barriers and Opportunities for Environmental Education utilizing Environmental Information Systems – Report on the Iwate Environment Millennium Forum (in Japanese), NTT Technology Journal, Volume 13, No. 5, May 2001, pp29-31.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., Chambers W. B., and Schroeder, H., (2001) Delegate Perceptions of Science and Politics at COP3 and COP4 of the UNFCCC Process, UNU/IAS Environmental Governance and Multilateralism, Working Paper No.8.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., Fein, J., Kuroda, A. and Yamada, I. (2001) E-learning for a Sustainable World: Obfuscating the Real and the Virtual? UNU/IAS Working Paper No. 90.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., Kuroda A., and Miyamoto, M., (2001) Ecological Modernisation, Environmental Knowledge and Societal Change – Attitudes and Behaviour of the Youth in Iwate and Tokyo, Japan, UNU/IAS Working Paper No.89.
    • Barrett, B.F.D, and M. Usui, M., (2000) Local Agenda 21 in Japan and the United Kingdom – An Initiative to Promote Responsible Governance and Citizenship, UNU/IAS Working Paper no. 76.
    • Barrett, B.F.D. (1999) Decentralization in Japan in the Globalization Era: Impact of Political, Inter-Ministerial and Interest Group Negotiations on the Reform Process, UNU/IAS Working Paper No. 61.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., and Chambers W.B., (1998) Primer on Scientific Knowledge and Politics in the Evolving Global Climate Regime: COP3 and the Kyoto Protocol, UNU/IAS Technical Report.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., Bendahamane, H. and Skinner, J. (1997) Survey of Information Systems Related to Environmentally Sound Technologies, Contribution to the 1997 Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, published by United Nations Environment Programme.
    • Matsui, S., Barrett, B.F.D. and Banerjee, J. (eds) (1991) Toxic Substances and Lake Management, a joint UNEP/ILEC publication.
    • Hashimoto, M. and Barrett, B.F.D. (eds) (1990) Socio-Economic Aspects of Lake Management, a joint UNEP/ILEC publication, July 1990.

    Other Publications (Conference Proceedings, etc)

    • Barrett, B.F.D. (2012) After the Nuclear Disaster, Japan Considers a Green Future, Solutions Journal, Vol. 4, Issue 1.
    • Higa C., Barrett, B.F.D., and Ellis, R.A. (2009) Learning across the Asia Pacific Region – Student experience of video-conferencing and online learning, World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (EDMEDIA), Honolulu, USA June 22, 2009.
    • Barrett, B.F.D and Higa, C. (2006) Evaluation of a Multi-Institution Pilot Distance Learning Course of the Asia Pacific Initiative: An Advanced Seminar in International Environmental Studies, paper presented at E-Learn 2006, World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare and Higher Education, 13-18 October 2006, Honolulu, USA.
    • van Ginkel. H. and Barrett, B.F.D., (2006) Sharing Knowledge: Role of E-learning in Creating the Global Learning Space, UNU OL10 – June 2006, paper presented at the ISPRS Technical Commission VI Symposium on “Elearning and the Next Steps for Education, University of Tokyo, 25-30 June 2006.
    • Barrett, B.F.D., (2005) University Collaboration to Promote Open Learning Methodologies: Experience in Africa, Central America and Asia, UNU OL9, June 2005. Paper presented at the Social Science Humanities Forum 2005 organized by the Gulf Research Centre, United Arab Emirates.