The School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management was disestablished on 1 January, 2017.

Following a review, the school was merged with the School of Earth Sciences to create the new School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences website can be found at

Cole Gainer works for Make It Right Foundation New Orleans
Cole Gainer works for Make It Right Foundation New Orleans

Experiencing hurricanes in New Orleans and mudslides in Machu Picchu inspired Cole Gainer’s career in environmental management.

“I’ve had some personal experiences with extreme weather events which made me realise how devastating they can be for the people affected,” he said.

“I wanted to use my interests in community planning and environmental design to build community resilience to climate change.”

Cole majored in Communications and Environmental Studies during his Bachelor of Arts at Loyola University, New Orleans, then spent several years working in environmental consultancies.

Five seasons of New Orleans hurricanes, then steady rain in Seattle, drove him to seek a sunnier climate and he moved to Brisbane to complete a Master of Environmental Management at UQ.

“UQ’s Environmental Management program was highly rated and recommended and Brisbane is a beautiful city,” said Cole.

“Cruising along the Brisbane River to university each day on the City Cat was an amazing experience, and the field trips we took to look at urban design in natural resource management were inspiring.

 “The degree developed my environmental problem solving skills and prepared me for an internship with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Development.

“While finishing my degree I worked with the UN on projects managing climate change, water scarcity and drought in post-conflict countries, and contributed to the 2011 Rio+20 sustainable development conference.”

Cole now works as an Analyst with Make It Right, an organisation founded by Brad Pitt in 2007 after Hurricane Katrina destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes.

Based in New Orleans, the foundation’s mission is to build safe, affordable, energy efficient and sustainable homes for people in need.

Cole’s role is to monitor compliance and project advancements, and manage data regarding the organisation’s homeowners, land inventory, housing stock, and funding sources.

“I am excited to grow with Make It Right and see where the organisation progresses once we complete our mission to build 150 homes,” he said.

“I would like to apply my education and interests in community planning, environmental design, and sustainable technologies, to the ‘community beyond housing’ facet of the organisation and see it develop further.”

Cole also serves on the board of Bayou Rebirth, a non-profit organisation which aims to increase awareness of coastal land loss and the need for urban resilience to climate change.

“It’s evident that our climate is changing and we need to respond in order to protect the future of our environment and society,” he said.

For information on studying the Environmental Management at UQ see

You can read more about Cole Gainer's internship with the United Nations in his profile from 2011.

Last updated: Nov 27, 2013