Brian Letts fed his passion for sustainability and environmental stewardship as a graduate student enrolled in Lehigh’s Environmental Policy Design program – and now, he’ll be the first United Nations intern from Lehigh to serve in Geneva, Switzerland.

Letts will serve for six months at Sustainable United Nations. But this isn’t Letts’ introduction to the SUN program. Letts served on the “Greening of the U.N. Missions” program in collaboration with a highly select group of Lehigh students and faculty and SUN Geneva throughout this past academic year. He is the 45th Lehigh student in a row to be selected as a UN intern, and the first to be placed outside of New York City.

He said he hopes one day to work for the government or as a lobbyist in fields related to climate change policy, citing America’s “stagnation” in concrete environmental policy as a reason he is drawn to that area. 

Brian Letts at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

“Before I came on, the Greening of the UN Mission was already in process, but two other students and I took it over and created a series of guidelines to try and help prospective missions to reduce their carbon footprint, become more sustainable and change their office practices for the better,” Letts said. 

Letts worked specifically with the Swedish Mission on this project, and said he hopes the experience he will gain with his UN internship will lend him to a career in climate policy back home. 

The internship will mostly consist of helping to compile summations on key environmental impact metrics for the past year from 67 organizations which work with the SUN team. The reports will also identify synergies between the Sustainable Development Goals and the mission of the SUN team.

Letts, who chose Lehigh after completing his communication degree at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, has Lehigh in his blood. His brother Dan, a Lehigh alum, served as a UN Youth Representative while at Lehigh. A cousin also graduated from Lehigh. 

“When I learned about the work the LU-UN Partnership was doing and the opportunity I’d have to assist on the projects, coming to Lehigh was an easy decision,” Letts said.