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James May

Distinguished Professor


Email: [email protected]

Phone: 302.477.2060


James R. May is Distinguished Professor of Law and co-Founder and co-Director of the Dignity Rights Project and the Environmental Rights Institute at Widener University Delaware Law School. May is also Adjunct Professor of Graduate Engineering and inaugural and immediate past Chief Sustainability Officer at Widener University, where he founded the Widener Sustainability Initiative. May has taught 20 courses, founded or co-founded three law centers, two non-profit environmental organizations and a joint degree program, directed an environmental law clinic, and visited at numerous law schools, including Georgetown, Hawai’i, and Vermont. May has also served as affiliated faculty at various institutions across the world, including in Australia, Africa, Brazil and Pakistan. May is also a former national defense engineer, and federal litigator.

May is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of a dozen books, including Constitutional Principles of Environmental Law; Global Environmental Constitutionalism; Environmental Constitutionalism; Judicial Handbook of Global Environmental Constitutionalism; New Frontiers in Global Environmental Constitutionalism; Environmental Rights (forthcoming); Encyclopedia of Human Rights and the Environment (forthcoming); Implementing Environmental Constitutionalism (forthcoming); and, Dignity Rights: Law, Policies and Principles (forthcoming). He is the author or co-author of three-dozen book chapters, four-dozen law review articles, and five-dozen other works of published legal scholarship, on fields including environmental law, constitutionalism and rights, human dignity, and litigation. Publishers include Cambridge Press, Routledge (Oxford), Edward Elgar, Intersentia, United Nations, Asia Publications, American Bar Association, the Environmental Law Institute, and dozens of legal journals and law reviews. May has delivered more than 300 invited presentations at academic or professional forums since 2009, and chaired or co-chaired a dozen conferences, workshops, colloquia, or symposiums. He has received numerous awards, including Pace University’s highest environmental law recognition award, and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society in 2017.

May has litigated hundreds of public interest environmental claims in (mostly federal) courts across the United States, including in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kansas, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, and in federal courts of appeal for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 9th and 11th Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. He is also the author or co-author of a dozen Amicus Curiae briefs, ordinarily on behalf of law professors, including before the U.S. Supreme Court and the 5th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal on matters addressing constitutional, environmental and administrative law.

At Widener University, May has served on the President’s Executive Team, University Council, and the University Senior Leadership Team, and serves as the co-chair of the University Sustainability Council. At Delaware Law, May has served as co-Chair of the Dean Search, Chair of the Faculty Governance, Tenure Review, and Adjunct Committees, and numerous committees. May was the faculty Advisor of the Widener Law Review, and has coached numerous moot court teams.

Off-campus, May serves or has served on the board of numerous organizations, including the American Bar Association Section on Energy, Environment and Resources, the American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL), the Pennsylvania Environmental Resources Consortium, Delaware GreenWatch, the South African Journal of Environmental Law, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

May is a Member of Faculty to the National Judicial College, a Fellow of the ACOEL, and a Member of the World Commission on Environmental Law. He has also served as a consultant to the U.S. Embassy on legal education in the Philippines, the Hungarian Embassy and the Moroccan Human Rights Council on constitutional reform, and various governmental, judicial, administrative and academic departments in Brazil, China, Haiti, South Africa, Pakistan and France, and as a Delegate to the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, on behalf of the Centre International de Droit Comparé de l'Environnement. May also serves as a consultant to the United Nations Environment Programme, and has coordinated judicial training workshops in Africa, South America and Asia Pacific in that capacity.

May is a member of the bar in the States of Pennsylvania and Kansas (inactive), several federal district courts and courts of appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He holds his LL.M. from Pace University (Feldshuh Fellow), and his J.D. and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Bowman Scholar) from the University of Kansas. May is also a certified engineer who formerly worked in national defense (Q-clearance).