Brendan Haley, PhD in Public Policy (2015)I am an alumnus of the PhD in Public Policy program at Carleton University. I currently am the Director of Policy Research for Efficiency Canada, a research and advocacy organization for an energy-efficient economy based at Carleton University. I am also recently an adjunct research professor at Carleton’s School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA).

I was born in Ottawa and mostly grew up in Toronto. However, I usually say I am “from” Nova Scotia. This is where my family is from and where I lived for a long time and consider home.

I have a multi-disciplinary background rooted in the study of the economy, politics and the environment. I did an undergraduate degree in economics at Dalhousie University, a master’s in environmental studies at York, and my PhD at SPPA. I used political economy and systems of innovation perspectives to consider Canadian low-carbon transition pathways. I enjoy influencing that change through research and direct advocacy and thinking more theoretically about how change occurs. 

I chose SPPA because of its focus on public policy, with a strong tradition of Canadian political economy and industrial policy analysis. I felt that we needed an approach to Canadian climate policy that was less dependent on market-based theories and more rooted in the country’s history and particular regional and sectoral transition pathways. I thought I could explore this policy approach best at Carleton while still receiving a grounding in traditional economics.

While in the SPPA, my supervisor was James Meadowcroft, who shared my interest in theory and real political change. He was supportive and allowed me to explore the topics I defined. During the thesis work, I was privileged to become acquainted with Mel Watkins, a Carleton emeritus professor known for developing the “staples” theory in Canadian political economy. My thesis was rooted in this theoretical tradition that considered how the country’s natural resource history influences development paths. Mel became a good friend, mentor and fellow activist. After my thesis, I was awarded the prestigious Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship, which I completed at Dalhousie University. I also wrote for think-tanks on innovation and industrial policy.

As mentioned, the work I am doing now on energy efficiency policy stems from my background as an environmental activist in Nova Scotia before I started my PhD. However, I bring thinking from my PhD studies at SPPA on policy systems, innovation and industrial policy to the energy demand policy space. For instance, I co-wrote a report defining what a mission-oriented innovation approach to building retrofits would look like, which has influenced new policies such as the federal governments Retrofit Acceleration Initiative and Greener Neighbourhood Pilot Program, as well as the framing of Green Buildings Strategy under development.

All that said, I am an activist that gets excited about political and policy change for a cleaner environment and a more just society. I enjoy shaping that change and thinking more theoretically about how change occurs!