Faculty Spotlight

Professor Hirokawa Delivers 2017 Boehl Lecture in Louisville

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What are the differences between local and federal approaches to environmental law? And what binds a community to its ecosystem?

Those are the questions at the heart of Professor Keith Hirokawa’s talk, “Communities and Ecosystems,” which he recently delivered at the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law for its annual Boehl Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Policy.

"It's the situatedness [at the local level] that makes it difficult to understand where the environment ends and the community begins," Professor Hirokawa told UofL ahead of his April 5 lecture. "There's no federal counterpart to that."

He added that local government in particular can benefit from a community’s natural surroundings. "When we lose ecosystems, we have to find a way to replace these services," Professor Hirokawa said, using water filtration from wetlands as an example. "The point is to make these connections less invisible."

Professor Hirokawa, whose scholarship explores convergences in ecology, ethics, economics, and law, with particular attention given to local environmental law, ecosystem services policy, watershed management, and environmental impact analysis, has authored dozens of professional and scholarly articles. His work has been published in journals including the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, Gonzaga Law Review, Fordham Environmental Law Review, Albany Law Review, and the Washington University Law Review. He edited the book Environmental Law and Contrasting Ideas of Nature: A Constructivist Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2014), and co-edited Greening Local Government: Legal Strategies for Promoting Sustainability, Efficiency, and Fiscal Savings (American Bar Association, 2012) and Rethinking Sustainability to Meet the Climate Change Challenge (Environmental Law Institute, 2015).

Professor Hirokawa joined Albany Law School in 2009, bringing a philosophy of teaching "from the dirt," with his students out in the community and learning on-site. His students have examined files for a 60-acre development seeking approval, conducted simulated third-party negotiations at a local town hall, collected data on indicator species—bugs—while examining a New York State program reliant on citizen monitoring, and visited a job site of local developer Mark Van Vleck.

He teaches courses involving environmental and natural resources law, land use planning, property law, and jurisprudence.

Prior to joining the faculty at Albany Law, Professor Hirokawa was an associate professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon School of Law.  Professor 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 J.D. and M.A. degrees.  He earned his LL.M. in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School.

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