Bio

Maxine Burkett is a Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘i. An expert in the law and policy of climate change, she has presented her work on diverse areas of climate law throughout the United States and in West Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. Her work has been cited in numerous news and policy outlets, including BBC Radio, the ABA Journal, the New York Times, and Nature Climate Change. From 2009-2012, Professor Burkett also served as the inaugural Director of the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP). Professor Burkett received her B.A. from Williams College and Exeter College, Oxford University, and received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Burkett is Vice-Chair of the Global Greengrants Fund Board of Directors, is a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform, and is a member of the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. She was a 2016 recipient of Williams College's Bicentennial Medal for distinguished achievement.

Project Summary

Professor Burkett’s research seeks to address the international implications of climate change with a focus on adaptation and resilience, particularly as it relates to the concerns of small island states and other most vulnerable communities. Her scholarship engages the emerging phenomenon of climate-induced migration and loss and damage, under which certain kinds of displacement, migration, and relocation might fall. Loss and damage seeks to address climate impacts to which a community cannot adapt, such as sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and desertification. The impacts are notably unique and potentially catastrophic, at least for the threatened regions in the near term. Professor Burkett approaches each scholarly endeavor with a spirit of integration and pragmatic problem-solving. To that end, she continues to work on interdisciplinary teams to produce cutting-edge and actionable research to better cope with climate change impacts. Burkett remains an active principle investigator in externally funded research on migration as well as and expert in consultation with negotiating blocs and community groups.

Major Publications

Lessons from Contemporary Resettlement in the South Pacific, 68 COLUMBIA J. INT’L AFFAIRS 2 (Spring 2015)
The Nation Ex-Situ: On Climate Change, Deterritorialized Nationhood, and the Post-Climate Era, 2 CLIMATE LAW 1 (Fall 2011)
Climate Refugees, in SHAWKAT ALAM, JAHID HOSSAIN BHUIYAN, TAREQ M.R. CHOWDHURY AND ERIKA J TECHERA, EDS., ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW (Routledge, Oxford, 2012)

Previous Terms

Public Policy Fellow, Environmental Change and Security Program. “Causes and Impacts of Climate Induced Migration” (June 20, 2016 - July 22, 2016)