The Program on Human Rights Collaboratory Series is an interdisciplinary investigation of human rights in the humanities. It is funded under the Stanford Presidential Fund for Innovation in International Studies as the third in a sequence of pursuing peace and security, improving governance and advancing we
Maxine Burkett is an Associate Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘i and serves as the inaugural Director of the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP), at the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program.
Professor Burkett’s courses include Climate Change Law and Policy, Torts, Environmental Law, Race and American Law, and International Development. She has written in the area of Race, Reparations, and Environmental Justice. Currently, her work focuses on "Climate Justice," writing on the disparate impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, in the United States and globally. Her March 2007 conference "The Climate of Environmental Justice," at the University of Colorado, brought together leading academics, activists, and legal practitioners in the Environmental Justice field to consider the emerging interplay between race, poverty, and global warming.
Professor Burkett has presented her research on Climate Justice throughout the United States and in West Africa, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. She most recently served as the Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics at the Wayne Morse Center, University of Oregon, as the Fall 2010 scholar for the Center’s “Climate Ethics and Climate Equity” theme of inquiry. She is the youngest scholar to hold the Wayne Morse Chair.
As the Director of ICAP, she leads projects to address climate change law, policy, and planning for island communities in Hawai‘i, the Pacific region, and beyond. In its first eighteen months, ICAP has completed several climate change adaptation related policy documents for Hawai‘i and other Pacific Island nations, specifically the Federated States of Micronesia. It has also hosted numerous outreach and education programs on island resiliency and climate change and engaged planning agencies in all four counties in Hawai‘i and seven state agencies and offices, as well as several federal entities and many state legislators. Most notably, ICAP has partnered with the Hawai‘i State Office of Planning to conduct early planning and assessment for a statewide Climate Change Adaptation Plan.
Professor Burkett attended Williams College and Exeter College, Oxford University, and received her law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked in private practice in Honolulu with Davis, Levin, Livingston and Paul, Johnson, Park & Niles, and served as a law clerk with The Honorable Susan Illston of the United States District Court, Northern District of California. Prior to her appointment at the University of Hawai‘i, Professor Burkett taught at the University of Colorado Law School. Professor Burkett is from the island of Jamaica, and now she and her husband raise their two young children on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i.