Curriculum Vitae
Catherine O’Brien, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Cape Breton University
Nova Scotia, Canada

Ph.D., Administration and Policy Studies in Education
McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 1998
(Focus: Education and Sustainability)

Master of Education, Guidance and Counselling
University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, 1987

Bachelor of Education
University of Western Ontario, 1978

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
University of Western Ontario, 1977

Research Interests

Sustainable Happiness: This is a concept I developed in order to merge the best elements of happiness studies with sustainability. My aim is to assist individuals, organizations, and governments to understand the link between our pursuit of happiness and sustainability.

Sustainable Community Development: My doctoral research at the Barefoot College in India, and my current research on sustainable happiness and child-friendly planning are intended to contribute towards the development of sustainable communities.

Urban Sustainability: I developed the field of child-friendly transport planning in Canada and my work has contributed to the development of Child- and Youth-Friendly Land Use and Transport Planning Guidelines for Ontario. Working with the Centre for Sustainable Transportation we are adapting the Guidelines for every Canadian province.


Sustainable Happiness and Well-Being (keynote). Holistic Teaching and Learning Conference. Winnipeg, May, 2016

O’Brien, C., & Murray, S.E.(2015). Wellbeing for all, sustainably: Repurposing education. First International Conference on Positive Communication, Seville, Spain, March.

Sustainable happiness. Professional development workshop for Dawson College faculty, Montreal, October, 2014.

Sustainable Happiness Certificate Program, Montreal, May, 2014 and 2015.

Positive Aging and Sustainable Happiness, workshops, Montreal, April, 2014.

Sustainable Happiness, webinar for the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, November, 2013.

Sustainable Happiness, Canadian Schools of Nursing Association conference, September, 2013.

Sustainable Happiness, Sustainability and Environmental Research Symposium, Dalhousie University, March, 2013.

Happy, Healthy Communities for All Ages, Plenary panel, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Sustainable Communities conference, Windsor, February, 2013.

Sustainable Happiness, AHIMSA and Sustainable Happiness Conference, Cal Poly Pomona, CA, November 2012

Sustainable Happiness, Keynote, St. Anthony, NL, May 2012

Celebrating Sustainable Happiness in Nunavut, Keynote, Nunavut Teachers Association Conference, Iqaluit, February 2012

Sustainable Happiness, Building Healthy Communities, Keynote, St. John’s, Canada, November 2011

Sustainable Happiness workshop, Iqaluit, Nunavut, November 2011

Sustainable Happiness, Intelligent Mobility, Keynote, Guadalajara, Mexico, November 2011

Sustainable Happiness, TEDxUTIHP, Toronto, September 2011

Sustainable Happiness, Green Roots Symposium, Keynote, Halifax, NS, March 2011

Sustainable Happiness and Education: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, February 2011

Sustainable Happiness and Children’s Mobility: Healthy Children, Healthy Spaces, Keynote, Ottawa, 2010

Child and Youth Friendly Planning Guidelines, On the Move in the Community, Montreal, 2010

Sustainable Happiness and Livable Communities, Keynote, Brantford, September 2009

Sustainable Happiness and Active and Safe Routes to School,Toronto, March 2009

Planning for Sustainable Happiness, Keynote, National SRTS conference, Dearborn, Michigan, November 2007

Walking and Sustainable Happiness, Keynote, WALK21, Toronto, October 2007

Sustainable Happiness: Fostering Individual, Community and Global Well-Being, University of Cassino, Italy, June 2007

Policies for Sustainable Happiness, University of Siena, Italy, June 2007

Child and Youth Friendly Planning, Planning Directors of Nova Scotia conference, May 2007

Planning for Happier, Healthier Communities, Health Symposium, Cape Breton University, April 2007

Child and Youth Friendly Planning for Happier, Healthier Communities, Florida Landscape Architects conference, July 2006

Happiness and the Work Place – Aboriginal Financial Officers Association Conference, Ottawa, February 2005

Happiness and Healthy Communities – Keynote, Designing Healthy Livable Communities Conference, Michigan State University, November 2004

Child-Friendly Planning and Happiness – Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition Conference, Perth, Ontario, September 2004

Child-Friendly Planning – Transportation Association of Canada, Quebec City, September 2004

Walking, Cycling and Gross National Happiness – Keynote, Pro Bike, Pro Walk Conference, Victoria, British Columbia, September 2004

Youth Health and Sustainable Transportation – International Youth Summit on Sustainable Transportation Conference, Ottawa, May 2004

Fresh Perspectives on Children’s Health and Transportation – Impact of Transport on Children’s Health Conference, The Hague, Netherlands, October 2003


O’Brien, C., & Adam, C. (2016). Sustainable happiness, living campus, and wellbeing for all. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity, and Change,

O’Brien, C. (2016). Education for sustainable happiness and well-being. New York: Routledge.

O’Brien, C., & Howard, P. (2016). The Living school: The emergence of a transformative sustainability education paradigm, Journal of Education for Sustainable Development 10(1). pp 115-130.

O`Brien, C., & Murray, S. (2015). Sustainable wellbeing, creativity and innovation. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity, and Change.

O`Brien, C. (2014). Sustainable happiness: Assisting pre-service teachers to understand the relationship between sustainability education and well-being. In F. Deer, T. Falkenberg, B. McMillan, & L. Sims (Eds.), Sustainable well-being: Concepts, issues, and educational practices (pp. 157-172). Winnipeg, MB: ESWB Press.

Ramanathan, S., O’Brien, C., Faulkner, G., & Stone, M. (2014). Happiness in motion: Emotions, wellbeing and active school travel, Journal of School Health, 84(8).

O’Brien, C. (2013). Happiness and sustainability: Together at last!! Sustainable happinessCanadian Journal of Education, 36(4).

O’Brien, C. (2013). Who is teaching us about sustainable happiness and well-being? Journal of Health, Culture and Society, 5(1).

O’Brien, C. (2013). Lessons in Sustainable Happiness. ebook.

O’Brien, C., & Murray, I. (2013). Sustainable happiness? Six ways to get there. YES! magazine.

O’Brien, C. (2012). Sustainable happiness and well-being: Future directions for positive psychology. Psychology, Vol.3, (12A) 1196-1201.

O’Brien, C. (2012). Teaching a university course in sustainable happiness, Solutions Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, June.

O’Brien, C. (2012). “Sustainable happiness” In J. Murray, G. Cawthorne, C. Dey, & C. Andrew, (Eds.), Enough for all forever: A handbook for learning about sustainability, Illinois: Common Ground.

O’Brien, C. (2011). “Sustainable happiness and education”. In K. Bartels & K. Parker, (Eds.), Teaching sustainability, teaching sustainably, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

O’Brien, C. (2011). Sustainable happiness for teachers and students, Canadian Teacher Magazine, November/December, 18-19.

Kelsey, E., & O’Brien, C. (2011). Sustainable happiness. Green Teacher, 93, 3-7.

O’Brien, C. (2010). Sustainability, happiness and education. Journal of Sustainability Education, (1).

O’Brien, C., & Gilbert, R. (2010). Child and Youth Friendly Land Use and Transport Planning Guidelines (Nova Scotia) Centre for Sustainable Transportation. University of Winnipeg. (Guidelines are available for every province)

O’Brien, C. (2008). Sustainable happiness: How happiness studies can contribute to a more sustainable future. Canadian Psychology, Vol 49, No 4, 289-295.

O’Brien, C. (2008). Sustainable happiness and the trip to school. World Transport Policy and Practice, Vol 14, No. 2.

O’Brien, C. (2007). Policies for sustainable happiness. Paper presented at the Policies for Happiness Conference, Siena, Italy, June.

O’Brien C., & Tranter, P. (2006). Planning for and with children and youth: Insights from children about happiness, well-being and walking. Paper presented at Walk 21, Melbourne, Australia.

O’Brien, C. (2006). A footprint of delight: Exploring sustainable happiness. National Center for Bicycling and Walking Forum, October.

O’Brien, C. (2006). Planning for and with children to create happier, healthier communities. Canadian Children, Vol 31 (1) Spring.

Orsini, A., &  O’Brien, C. (2006). Fun, fast and fit: Influences and motivators for teenagers who cycle to secondary school. Children,Youth and Environments, 16(1).

O’Brien, C., Plohman, J., & O’Brien, M. (2006). Community health needs assessment. Merrickville District Community Health Centre. Report.

Gilbert, R., & O’Brien, C. (2005). Settlement pattern, physical activity, and the body weights of children and youth. Report. Toronto: Centre for Sustainable Transportation.

O’Brien, C. (2005). Planning for sustainable happiness. Paper prepared for the 2nd International Conference on Gross National Happiness, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Gilbert, R., & O’Brien, C. (2005). Child- and Youth-Friendly Land-Use and Transport Planning Guidelines (Ontario). Toronto: Centre for Sustainable Transportation.

O’Brien, C., & Gilbert, R. (2005). Children’s health and transportation. Information booklets for municipal staff and politicians, public health and recreation, educators, parents, and youth. Toronto: Centre for Sustainable Transportation.

O’Brien, C. (2004). Planning for and with children: Good news for pedestrians and cyclists, National Center for Bicycling and Walking Forum, 10-01-04, December, Washington.

O’Brien, C. (2004). Child-friendly transportation planning. Report, Toronto: Centre for Sustainable Transportation.

O’Brien, C. (2003). Transportation that’s actually good for the soul, National Center for Bicycling and Walking Forum, 12-03-1, December, Washington.

O’Brien, C. (2003). Fresh perspectives on children’s health and sustainable transportation. Paper presented at Health Impacts of Transport on Children, The Hague, Netherlands.

O’Brien, C., &  Gilbert, R. (2003). Kids on the move in Halton and Peel. Report. Toronto: Centre for Sustainable Transportation.

O’Brien, C. (2002). Fresh perspectives on children’s health and sustainable transportation. Report. Ottawa: Canadian Institute of Child Health.

O’Brien, C. (2001). Children, A critical link for changing driving behaviour. National Center for Bicycling and Walking Forum, Issue No. 52. August, Washington.

O’Brien, C. (2001). Parent attitudes and travel behaviour regarding the trip to school: Opportunities for sustainable mobility. Report. Toronto: York University.

O’Brien, C. (2001). Ontario walkability study: Trip to school, children’s experiences and aspirations. Report. Toronto: York University.

O’Brien, C. (2000). Way to Go! Getting kids to school the sustainable way. Alternatives Journal, Vol. 26. No. 2, Spring, Waterloo: University of Waterloo.

O’Brien, C., &  Kowey, B. (2000). Engaging the public: Starting with our children. Paper presented at the Climate Change and Communication Conference, Kitchener-Waterloo, June.

O’Brien, C. (1999). Fostering sustainable mobility: Starting with our children. Paper presented at the Network on European Communications and Transport Activities and Research Conference, Delft, Netherlands, October.

O’Brien, C. (1999). Children: a critical link for changing driving behaviour. Paper presented at the Transportation Association of Canada Conference, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, September.

O’Brien, C. (1999). Childhood and sustainable transportation. Paper presented at the Social Change and Sustainable Transportation Conference, University of California at Berkley, March.

O’Brien, C. (1996). Barefoot College: Knowledge demystified. Booklet. Education for All, Innovations Series #11, UNESCO, Paris.