Hello, my name is Brett Werner. I am an associate professor and chair of Environmental Studies at Centre College in Danville, KY, having previously lived in Illinois, Minnesota, and South Dakota. I do research on Wetlands, Rivers and Streams, Ecology, Environmental Policy, and a variety of other topics. My teaching area is primarily interdisciplinary Environmental Studies.
As a teacher, I work to integrate a variety of disciplines of Environmental Studies and Sustainability. I have taught in History, Rhetoric, Politics/Political Science, Philosophy, and Natural Resource Management departments, but my real home is interdisciplinary Environmental Studies. During Fall 2018, my courses include Environmental Ethics, Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies, and Asia & the Environment. In January 2019, my colleague Ellen Prusinski and I will be taking ~25 students to Singapore and Thailand to study Environmental Conservation and Education in Asia. In other semesters, my teaching includes Introduction to Environmental Studies, Rivers and Adaptive Ecosystem Management, American Environmental Policy, Human Dimensions of Climate Change, and Public Policy. Courses I have taught less frequently include Food and Campus Sustainability, American Environmental History, Saving Wild Places, Literature and the Environment, (and assisting with Landscape Ecology while a post-doctoral fellow).
My recent collaborative research experiences with students have investigated the following:
- Rivers and streams around the world (Emma Anderson in 2016, Margaux Crider in 2017-18, Victoria Moore in 2018)
- Food access, security, and equity in rural Kentucky (Beka Bruner and Moses Ngong in 2017-18)
- Environmental attitudes, values, and behavior (Jimmy Robinson in 2018, and some advising of Brendan Holly in 2017-18)
Additionally, I have advised student-led research in the following:
- Animal behavior enrichment (Emma Presberg)
- Education policy (Jillian Frost)
- Technology policy and data privacy law (Sarah-James Miles)
Finally, as part of Centre College’s Luce Initiative for Asian Studies and the the Environment (LIASE) activities, I have advised or co-advised projects including the following:
- Brandon Schweder did Aquaculture and Fisheries research in Thailand, working with our partners at Kasetsart University in Thailand including Dr. Sukkrit Nimitkul
- Brendan Holly and Jimmy Robinson worked with the Borneo Nature Foundation
- Olivia Murrell worked to develop herbarium specimens for Centre College with Dr. Sugumaran Manickam of the University of Malaya-Kuala Lumpur.
- Eh Nay Thaw worked with the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)
- Margaux Crider and Tyree Wilmoth worked at Happy Healing Home in northern Thailand and created a documentary about farm life there.
In Spring 2017, I was named a Centre Scholar, an award for faculty who have excelled at teaching, research, and service at the college. In Spring 2018, I was selected by the students for the Omicron Delta Kappa teaching award. Additionally, I have been awarded a Stodghill Research Professorship for the 2018-19 academic year, and will be on research leave in Spring 2019.
My primary research involves simulation modeling of prairie pothole wetlands of North America, specifically the impact of climate variability and change on these wetlands and their dependent organisms. Recently, we have adapted our research to investigate the impacts of agricultural tile drainage in surrounding uplands on wetland dynamics.
I have also done some ecological research related to floodplain forests of the Upper Missouri River basin, and on prairie restoration.
Paralleling my research in ecology, I did graduate research in the interdisciplinary environmental humanities, investigating the relationships between American Pragmatist thought and environmental rhetoric (political, historical, and literary). This research links my research interests in ecology with my research interests in environmental policymaking and analysis.
Finally, my interests in sustainability are more than academic, having spent significant time working in sustainable food systems, helping my family start a local produce garden in central South Dakota’s food desert. Muddy Pumpkin Farms sold produce at farmers markets, CSAs, grocery stores and co-ops, and restaurants in South Dakota. For pictures and updates, check out the farm’s Facebook page.