Lecturer, Environmental Program

Trish O'Kane is an environmental educator who uses action-research to promote environmental and social justice. She created the “Birding to Change the World” service learning course and program at University of Wisconsin-Madison while completing her doctorate. She believes in harnessing the power of passionate, knowledgeable and energetic students to help solve community and global problems.

Before studying the natural sciences Trish worked as a human and civil rights investigative journalist for a decade in Central America and five years in the Deep South. In Guatemala she worked for the United Nations investigating massacres perpetrated by the Guatemalan military. In Alabama she conducted research on white supremacist groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Trish has also taught writing in a women’s prison. Author of Guatemala: the People, Politics and Culture, she has written for major media including The New York Times. She lives, birds, writes and gardens in Burlington, Vermont along with her husband, Jim Carrier—a writer, banjo picker and filmmaker--and their dog, Nova, who has a dog-torate in tennis balls.

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Community organizing and action-research, environmental and social justice (racism, poverty and militarism), environmental education, ornithology and conservation, environmental journalism, and the public health benefits of nature-watching and birding (psychological ecosystem services)


  • PhD, Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MSc, Development Studies, London School of Economics
  • MA, International Journalism, University of Southern California
  • BA, Spanish/Latin American Studies, University of Southern California


Office Hours:

Teatime with Trish: Thursday, 2:00 pm -3:30 pm in Bittersweet; Advising hours Wednesday, 11:30 am -1:00 pm in Henderson's by appt... Email Trish to schedule.