Law Professor Maxine Burkett will be Public Policy Fellow this summer in Washington, D.C.

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Jul 5, 2016

Maxine Burkett
Maxine Burkett

UH Law Professor Maxine Burkett, who has lectured extensively on climate change throughout the world, has been selected as a Public Policy Fellow this summer at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C., considered one of the top 10 think tanks in the world.

Burkett has also just been appointed to the new federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, one of 15 experts in physical and social sciences, communications, education and related topics reflecting the broad scope of issues relevant to this assessment process. The committee was established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The committee’s advice and recommendations will go to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for use by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a confederation of the research arms of 13 federal departments and agencies.  It is charged with carrying out research to develop and maintain capabilities to support the country’s understanding and response to global climate change.

Members represent a wide range of viewpoints and geographic sectors; they are appointed by Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in consultation with OSTP director Dr. John Holdren.

“I’m honored to be a part of the critically important conversations we’re having on the severe impacts of climate change, particularly on the most vulnerable communities currently at the frontlines,” said Burkett, who will receive the Williams College Bicentennial Medal, the college’s distinguished achievement award for alumni, in the Fall.

The Palolo resident also recently was named one of “40 Under 40” for 2016, an annual honor from Pacific Business News that spotlights outstanding leaders doing important work in the community.

Burkett graduated from Williams College in 1998 with a bachelor's degree, cum laude, and earned her JD from the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of law, four years later. She also attended Exeter College at Oxford University.

In 2009, Burkett joined the William S. Richardson School of Law faculty, where she teaches the broad scope of climate law, including climate change law and policy, torts, and ocean and coastal law. She has written extensively on diverse areas of climate law, with a particular emphasis on climate justice — exploring the impact of climate change on communities that suffer disproportionate impact in the U.S. and globally.

Also in 2009 she became the inaugural director of the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy, a program initiated by five colleges at the University of Hawai‘i and within the Sea Grant program.

Burkett focuses much of her research on the impact of climate change on islands, both in the Pacific and in other low-lying regions of the globe. She expects to build on that research this summer, as well as to explore options for legal recourse for climate damage. In numerous writings, she has looked at climate ethics and equity, including in 2010 when she served as the Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics at the Wayne Morse Center, University of Oregon.

Burkett was a White House intern and an Omidyar Fellow. She is also a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform. After her graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk for The Honorable Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. Before joining Richardson Law School, she taught at the University of Colorado School of Law.

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