About me

Hi, I’m Brett. I am an economist and social scientist exploring the interactions between economic development, climate change, poverty, and religion. I also have a strong interest in the political forces impacting the poor and the oppressed, the legal underpinnings of economic systems, the roles of worldviews and spirituality in human flourishing and ‘meta-issues’ such as the philosophies of science and religion, how to understand complex systems, and how to work with so-called ‘wicked problems’.

I trained originally with a Bachelor of Science in geology and chemistry, then completed a Bachelor of Theology (Hons), a Masters in Development Studies, and finally, (after some groundwork doing a Graduate Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma), a PhD in Economics at Monash University, evaluating the different approaches to modelling economic development policy in the light of complex systems science.

I am currently the director of my own social enterprise called Epektasis. I am also studying an MPhil in Classical Indian Religion at Oxford. Why go back to study after all this time?  For two reasons: First, to help me better understand the Hindu and Buddhist worldviews and their approaches to important problems like poverty, human rights and sustainability. And second, out of a personal interest in yoga and spirituality.

I worked for the aid agency World Vision for 15 years from 1995-2010, including four years coordinating WV International’s economic policy work. From 2007-2010 I lead a team of economists and technical specialists in WV Australia, and coordinated WV International’s climate policy development. From February 2010 to February 2012 I was also a lecturer in Deakin University’s Master of International and Community Development programme, where I taught economic development, microfinance, and aid and trade. From 2012-13 I worked with the Australian Conservation Foundation and as an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics at Monash University. Over 2014-15 I worked for myself setting up Epektasis and in 2016 I worked as an Interdisciplinary Research Coordinator at the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and trained as a yoga teacher before coming to Oxford.

I enjoy interacting with individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, having given dozens of talks for community organisations and business groups over the past 15 years, including:

  • Climate Change & the Developing World, Oxford University, 18 March 2017.
  • Computable General Equilibrium Models & Agent-Based Models: Comparisons & Potential Linkages, Institute for New Economic Thinking, Oxford University, 17 November 2016.
  • Development, History, Sustainability & Spirituality, Presentation for International Needs, Melbourne, 6 September 2016.
  • Complexity, Psychology, Sustainability & Spirituality: Why they matter for your business (really),  Monash University MBA Program, Melbourne, 26 September 2015
  • The Economics of a Safe Climate Economy, Breakthrough 2014 – National Climate Restoration Forum, Melbourne, 21 June 2014
  • Economic Opportunities & Barriers, Breakthrough 2014 – National Climate Restoration Forum, Melbourne, 21 June 2014
  • Climate Change and the Ecological Economics of Australia’s Coal Exports, for Oikos:
    Reconciling Ecology & Economics Perspectives, 27 March 2014, Melbourne.
  • Transforming Australia’s Export Profile for Ecological Sustainability, Conference of the
    Australian and New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics (ANZSEE), 11-14
    November 2013, Canberra.
  • The Recipe for Eradicating Poverty: Is there a Missing Ingredient?, Melbourne, 19 March 2013. Video here and an excerpt here.
  • Climate Change: The Big Picture, Master Builder’s Association, Melbourne, 23 August 2012
  • Climate Change:  An update and discussion of the social implications, Hargraves Sustainability Group, Melbourne, 3 May 2012
  • Some stuff we’re doing at Monash: ABM Research & Teaching, Heron Island Complex Systems  Summer School, 26 January 2012
  • Theologial Forum: Economic Justice, World Vision Australia, 17 November 2011.
  • Climate Change: The Big Picture, Climate Change Community Forum, 6 October 2011.
  • The Physical and Economic Impacts of Climate Change, Australian Medical Association, Melbourne, 14 September 2011.
  • The Physical and Economic Impacts of Climate Change, Melbourne Water, 30 August 2011
  • How to Live Well with a Price on Carbon: The Big Picture, Lighter Footprints, Melbourne, 10 August 2011.
  • The Physical and Economic Impacts of Climate Change, Plastics and Chemical Industries Association, Carbon Solutions Forum 2, Melbourne, 21 June 2011.
  • Agents and Networks Teaching at Monash University, CSIRO Workshop, Canberra, 7 June 2011.
  • Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2 April 2011.
  • Complex Adaptive Systems and Economic Development: An introduction in 20 minutes!, World Vision Australia workshop, 21 March 2011.
  • Economics & the thought of Bernard Lonergan, Melbourne, 11 May 2010.
  • After Copenhagen, St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, 2 March 2010.
  • Adaptation After Copenhagen, CSIRO Adaptation Symposium, Melbourne, 4 February 2010. (Invited after-dinner address)
  • Climate Change after Copenhagen, Integrated Leadership Group, Melbourne, 4 February 2010.
  • Climate Change, Development & Copenhagen, Business Sustainability Roundtable, Melbourne, 28 October 2009.
  • International Climate Crisis Response: Is Generational Change the Key? Panel discussion chaired by Adam Shoemaker, DVC Education, BMW Edge, Federation Square. Part of Monash’s Educate 09 Program. 17 September 2009.
  • Climate Change and Development, Seminar for parliamentarians at Parliament House, Canberra, 19 August 2009.
  • Climate Change and NGOs, ANU NGO workshop, Canberra, 19 August 2009.
  • Climate Change, Food Security & the Poor, ANU Forum on the Global Food Crisis & Climate Change, Canberra, 18 August 2009.
  • Climate Change: Science, Policy & Solutions, Monash University, Perspectives on Sustainability & Environment, 13 May 2009.
  • Evaluating Modelling Frameworks, CSIRO Complex Systems Workshop, Bowral NSW, 6 May 2009.
  • Climate Change (and Related 21st Century Challenges), Monash University, Ignite Launch, 19 March 2009.
  • Climate Change and Other 21st Century Challenges, Tabor College, Melbourne, 18 February 2009.
  • Climate Change and Other 21st Century Challenges, Sensis, Melbourne, 13 February 2009.
  • Climate Change (and Related 21st Century Challenges), Social Education Victoria Conference, Melbourne, 8 December 2008.
  • Eradicating Poverty & Limits to Biophysical Growth, Conference at Monash Caulfield, 27 November 2008.
  • Climate Change, Energy Futures & Major Global Trends, Ergo Consulting, Melbourne, 27 August 2008.
  • Climate Change, Energy Futures & Development Policies, Monash University, Caulfield, 6 August 2008.
  • Can the Developing World Survive Climate Change? ‘One Just World’ event, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne. 30 July 2008. Part 1, Part 2. 
  • Aid, Trade, Development & Leadership, Ancora Imparo Student Leadership forum, Monash University, Caulfield. 15 July 2008.
  • “It’s All About the Money” Is Development Dominated by the Agenda of Economists?, Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) Conference, Melbourne, 4 July 2008.
  • A Complex Systems Science Approach to Economic Development & Resilience, CSIRO Complex Systems Workshop, Brisbane, 18 June 2008.
  • A Very Brief Introduction to Agent-Based Development Modelling, RMIT University, Melbourne, 8 February 2008.
  • The Perfect Storm? Climate Change & Energy Security, Ergo Consulting, Melbourne, 6 February 2008.
  • Introduction to an Agent-Based Model of Development Processes in Tanzania, CSIRO, 25 July 2007.
  • Introduction to an Agent-Based Model of Development Processes in Tanzania, Complex 07 Conference, Gold Coast, 3 July 2007
  • An Agent-Based Model of Tanzania (Work in progress), Defence, Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), Edinburgh, SA, 31 May 2007.

On a more personal note, I love the beach, travel, films, drinking good coffee (my local haunts are Amity Cafe in Melbourne and The Missing Bean in Oxford), yoga (I teach and practice at Seed Yoga + Wellness in Melbourne and Yoga Quota in Oxford), singing, horse riding, scuba diving, photography and riding my motorbike, which is currently a Honda VT400.