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 Island Climate Center: The Center for Island Resiliency and Climate Policy. 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 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’s courses include Torts, Climate Change Law and Policy, 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 poor and of-color communities and the United States’ moral and legal obligation to these communities nationally and internationally.  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, West Africa, and the Caribbean.

As Director of the Island Climate Center, she will lead projects to address climate change law and policy in the context of small island states and communities in Hawai‘i, the Pacific region, and beyond.