man with dark blonde hair with facial hair wearing dark sports coat, grey button up, and grey tie

Brett Werner

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies • De Facto Director of Sustainability

Chair of Environmental Studies

Offices & Programs


BA (St. Olaf College), MA & PhD (University of Minnesota)


Brett Werner returned to Centre in 2013 as an assistant professor of Environmental Studies after spending two years at Centre as an Associated Colleges of the South/Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Environmental Studies from 2009-2011. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2017 and again in 2021. He was named associate professor in 2018.

Werner teaches widely in Environmental Studies, including the core Introductory and Senior Seminar courses, along with courses in Environmental Policy, the Science-Policy Interface, and Environmental Ethics. Werner teaches off-campus in Thailand, Lake Tahoe, and Singapore, and his topical courses address Water and Rivers; Sustainable Development in Asia; Inclusivity and Risk in the Outdoors; and the Human Dimensions of Climate Change.

Since 2014, Werner and his colleagues have received two grants from the Henry Luce Initiative for Asian Studies and the Environment totaling $450,000 to develop a number of learning experiences that scaffold High Impact Practices, from language and culture to study abroad and research and internships abroad.

Werner’s research addresses a number of emerging environmental issues, including the effects of climate change on prairie wetlands, wetland and grassland restoration, floodplain forests, and most recently the interplay of science and policy on the topic of wetland conservation and agricultural drainage. His research has been funded by a number of federal agencies, and he has published in BioScience, Climatic Change, and the Journal of the American Water Resources Association. His current research project investigates human relationships with rivers, streams, and water.
He received a B.A. from Saint Olaf College in mathematics and models of the environment, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in rhetoric and scientific & technical communications from the University of Minnesota.


  • 2017, 2021 Centre Scholar
  • 2018 David F. Hughes Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service


  • Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • American Environmental Policy
  • Water: Stories, Science, & Policy
  • Human Dimensions of Climate Change


  • Werner, Brett, Kyle Anderson, Matthew Klooster, Daniel Kirchner, and Aaron Godlaski. 2021. “Scaffolding High-Impact Practices for Asian Studies and the Environment.” ASIANetwork Exchange 27(2), pp. 53–64. DOI:
  • Werner, B., J. Tracy, W.C. Johnson, R. Voldseth, G. Guntenspergen, B. Millett. 2016. Modeling the effects of tile drain placement on the hydrologic function of farmed prairie wetlands. Journal of the American Water Resources Association.
  • Johnson, W.C., B. Werner, G. Guntenspergen. January 2016. Non-linear responses of Prairie Pothole wetlands to climate warming. Climatic Change. 134 (1): 209-223 (Published online first October 2015).
  • Rashford, B.S., R.M. Adams, J. Wu, R.A. Voldseth, G. Guntenspergen, B.A. Werner, W.C. Johnson. 2016. Impacts of Climate Change on Land-Use and Wetland Productivity in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. Regional Environmental Change. 16 (2): 515-526 (Published online first February 2015).

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