Senior Lecturer

An environmental educator who uses action-research to promote environmental and social justice, Dr. Trish O’Kane created the “Birding to Change the World” service learning course and program at the 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.

Associations and Affiliations

  • The American Ornithologists' Union
  • Association of Field Ornithologists
  • Wisconsin Society of Ornithology
  • American Society of Environmental History
  • PEN America
Trish O'Kane

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Instructional programs: Environmental Studies, Natural Resources
Research: Community organizing, environmental & social justice, environmental education, ornithology & conservation, environmental journalism, public health benefits of nature-watching & birding


  • Ph.D. Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015
  • MSc. Development Studies, London School of Economics, 1998
  • M.A. International Journalism, University of Southern California, 1988
  • B.A. Spanish/Latin American Studies, University of Southern California, 1985


  • 802 656-5878
Office Location:

312B Aiken Center

Courses Taught

  • ENVS 195 What Does the Fox Say: Sustainability from a Non-Human Perspective
  • ENVS 295 SU: Sustainability Education: Birding to Change the World