Brendan is an environmental activist, policy expert and educator. Formerly program director of the Regional Environmental Center (REC), he is on sabbatical learning the Russian language and volunteering for the Truth-Hounds human rights organization, in Kiev, where he seeks to analyze the environmental impacts of war in Eastern Ukraine.
At REC, Brendan led the “Education for Sustainable Development in the Western Balkans: Education for Sustainable Futures” program, which integrated sustainable development education into school curricula in Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe recognized his work as a best practice for the “Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (2005-15).”
On March 28, Brendan spoke at CEU’s first TEDTalk event, on “How to Think Big and Save the Earth.”
What should people know about you?
I’m an environmentalist by my profession and passion. Everything I do – my work, my hobbies – is connected to the environment and my love of nature. I see the environmental crisis we are now in as turning point for humans and that we have to act now.
What’s the most important thing about the work you do?
It’s up to every single person to contribute to sustainable development. And everybody should no matter what field they are in. Watching educators teach these practices [sustainable development] in the classroom and seeing students learning and developing an interest in this - something that will have lasting positive impact – is very rewarding.
What got you into in environmental studies / sustainable development?
I’ve always been interested in political science. I was thinking about becoming a lawyer. I love nature, hiking, being outdoors. I thought: the best way to combine them was to use law and policy to protect the planet since we are now living in an ecological crisis. It seemed the best way to contribute.
How do you feel CEU helped or prepared you for this work?
CEU opened my perspectives. There’s such a diversity of knowledge and opinions here and I had the opportunity to speak and interact with people from different backgrounds with different ideas of what culture and sustainability mean.
What do you feel is CEU’s relevance today?
It’s very relevant. CEU does great things for this region and the world. I am always proud to tell people I am an alumnus of CEU.
What do you miss about your student days here?
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than my time here. The staff were supportive. I also learned a lot from the faculty and other students. This is what I miss, an opportunity to interact with young people and exchange ideas. It’s a melting pot of ideas here.