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
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.