Sustainability Spotlight: Eimear Clowry

Author: Olivia Farrington

Headshot of staff member Eimear Clowry

Across the pond in the Emerald Isle, a tireless sustainability champion serves as the Senior Associate Director of Notre Dame’s Dublin Global Gateway. Since 2008, Eimear Clowry has been working to develop and implement Notre Dame’s vision and strategy in Ireland via building and promoting strategic partnerships for teaching and learning, research collaborations, government organizations, not-for-profits and corporations, expanding Notre Dame’s presence in Ireland and bringing Ireland to Notre Dame. With all of the critical work associated with her role, she also makes time to manage the Sustainability Fellows program.

Sustainability Fellows Program

The Sustainability Fellows program is relatively new and has a humble beginning; it started as a small pilot program in Rome, where a student was selected by the Notre Dame Sustainability Office to intern for one semester. “I liked the idea and wanted to expand the program to Dublin, too,” Eimear says. “As we talked through the initiative with the Sustainability Office, I felt there was real value in expanding the programme across multiple sites to build a supportive network for students with their peers in other locations. So with the support of Notre Dame Sustainability, we co-launched the Global Sustainability Fellows Programme in Fall 2022.” Since then, Sustainability Fellows have been selected for their ability to lead and support environmental initiatives across many of the University’s global locations, carrying out the Pope’s call to care for our common home.

The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students participating in a semester-long immersion program at participating Notre Dame global locations. During their time abroad, Fellows are encouraged to actively participate in the communities, lead and support local sustainability research in an area of interest, and ultimately help grow Notre Dame’s global sustainability work with the support of on-site staff and faculty mentors. “We’ve had 12 Fellows to date, each of whom has brought so much to the programme. Working in collaboration with the Notre Dame Sustainability Office allows us to collectively work on shared issues, connecting campus to the world and the world back to campus,” Eimear reports. “It’s inspiring working with young people, whose intellectual curiosity and incessant passion and commitment to being a force for good is very genuine. It’s a privilege to support and nurture that. Ireland is a brilliant place to conduct environmental research—for undergrads, grads, and faculty. It's truly life-giving for me to support multi-directional collaborative research opportunities to solve such big challenges.”

Lasting Impressions

Her energy is infectious and inspiring, and though many may not have ever met her in person, her passion for sustainability transcends geographical boundaries. It connects people on the common mission of driving sustainability forward. Students have come away from the fellows program with incredible experiences that have left a positive impact. Fall ‘23 Sustainability Fellow in Rome, Annelise Hanson, says, "I enjoyed that the Sustainability Fellow role allowed me to collaborate with students and staff across different countries. Sustainability initiatives are more effective with the inspiration from others and the different perspectives from other contributors from around the world… I was able to collaborate with the main campus, Dublin, and Galway under Eimear's guidance. I can't wait to see what future fellows do and how my sustainability website that I built for the Rome program gets used in the future!"

Another Fall '23 Fellow, Bennett Schmitt, worked alongside Eimear in Dublin. He says "Eimear gave me the opportunity to engage with sustainability in an international context and helped to heighten my awareness of what sustainability can look like through a global lens... Eimear’s passion for sustainability and belief in the importance of bottom-up action inspired me to frame the projects and events I contributed to throughout the semester around the theme of cultivating a conscious and careful use of the resources we have around us. Eimear is a fierce believer in that even the smallest actions toward a more sustainable future can be deeply impactful. Working alongside her, I gained a deep appreciation for the power of education in initiating the conversation around sustainability and helping to show people that they are capable of making an impact at an individual level. "

Staff and colleagues have also been moved by Eimear’s commitment. Assistant Director for Internships, Research, and Communications in Dublin, Maggie Arriola, explains that “Eimear Clowry has been the driving force behind sustainable action in Notre Dame International. She established the Global Sustainability Fellows for study abroad students, created an edible garden in Dublin, and has sought for Notre Dame in Dublin to be the first global location with Green Office Certification.”

A Lifelong Passion

Eimear’s passion for sustainability has been prevalent long before the Fellowship program. “I’ve always been interested in nature and the environment. Growing up in the countryside, surrounded by badgers and foxes and hedgerows laden with hawthorn bushes, I’ve always felt an attachment to nature, the seasons, the colors, the space,” Eimear reflects. “I’m not sure when I started to grow concerned about the loss of nature and wildlife, but I suppose working in international education has piqued my interest in more recent years; from the conversations around carbon footprint to rethinking how we can protect and conserve this sacred planet. I am really interested in biodiversity, the conservation of our natural heritage, our responsibility to place, and how we can learn from each other in our local and global communities... I co-founded a nature conservation initiative with a group of bio-geographers, engineers and educators to work on an action plan for our town. I’m a member of the County Heritage Forum and a Biodiversity Forum working group to represent my community in caring for our common home. I love that my work and my passions are so intertwined.”

Waste Not, Want Not: Global Day of Service

If Eimear could give everyone one sustainability tip, it would be this: “Waste less. Be open to change and willing to explore new ways of doing things.” This year, Notre Dame International (NDI) and the Notre Dame Sustainability Office will collaborate with The Notre Dame Alumni Association to embrace principles of wasting less in the next Global Day of Service on April 27th. NDI and Sustainability are asking Notre Dame friends and family across the globe to consider ways to reduce food waste in their respective communities. Nearly one-third of food is wasted globally, and in the U.S. alone, nearly 40% of food is wasted at the post-consumer level. There are a variety of ways to make a positive impact on our food systems and waste less each day. Visit to learn more and try something new to help prevent food from entering landfills and reduce food insecurity.