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The earth is changing, despite efforts to slow the effects of global warming. So is it time to reexamine our approach to sustainability?
That’s the question at the heart of Professor Keith Hirokawa’s new book,
Rethinking Sustainability to Meet the Climate Change Challenge, a collection of essays from leading environmental experts co-edited by SUNY Buffalo Law School Professor Jessica Owley.
Nicholas A. Robinson, Gilbert & Sarah Kerlin professor of environmental law emeritus at Pace University School of Law, praised the collection as “provocative and timely.”
“There is no better critique of sustainable development in print today,” Robinson said.
Prof. Hirokawa has been busy promoting Rethinking Sustainability since its publication five months ago. In late September, he welcomed Prof. Owley to Albany Law for a discussion and book signing.
“My optimism runs deep,” said Prof. Hirokawa, who visited SUNY Buffalo the following month for the school’s Fall Environmental Law and Policy Gathering.
Prof. Hirokawa presented his own thoughts in the final chapter, “Saving Sustainability.”
“This chapter rejects the criticisms to sustainability by denying the suspicion that the alleged uncertainties are problematic at any relevant level,” he wrote. “Perhaps, as this chapter indicates, a better way to view the challenge of sustainability is not that uncertainty is at the base of a new science, but that uncertainty is the situation in which we find ourselves.”
Prof. Hirokawa joined Albany Law School in 2009, bringing with him a philosophy of teaching “from the dirt,” meaning his students are out in the community and learning on site. His students have examined files for a real 60-acre development seeking approval, conducted simulated third-party negotiations at a local town hall, and collected data on indicator species — bugs — while examining a New York state program reliant on citizen monitoring. This semester, Prof. Hirokawa's environmental law students visited at a job site of local developer Mark Van Vleck.
Prof. Hirokawa teaches courses involving environmental and natural resources law, land use planning, property law, and jurisprudence. His scholarship has explored convergences in ecology, ethics, economics, and law, with particular attention given to local environmental law, ecosystem services policy, watershed management, and environmental impact analysis.
He has written dozens of professional and scholarly articles in these areas, including “A Response to the IPCC Fifth Assessment,” a co-authored paper published by the Environmental Law Reporter in 2015. Prof. Hirokawa edited the book Environmental Law and Contrasting Ideas of Nature: A Constructivist Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and served as co-editor on Greening Local Government: Legal Strategies for Promoting Sustainability, Efficiency, and Fiscal Savings (American Bar Association, 2013).
Prior to joining the faculty at Albany Law, Prof. Hirokawa was an associate professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. Prof. Hirokawa practiced land use and environmental law in Oregon and Washington and was heavily involved with community groups and nonprofit organizations. He studied philosophy and law at the University of Connecticut, where he earned his JD and MA degrees. He earned his LLM in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School.