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James May

Emeritus Professor of Law

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Kansas
J.D. University of Kansas
LL.M. Pace University Haub School of Law

(Currently on leave at SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah)


Email: [email protected]

Phone: 302.477.2060


James R. May, Esq. is Emeritus Professor of Law and Founder of the Global Environmental Rights Institute at Widener University Delaware Law School, Visiting Scholar at the Haub School of Law at Pace University, and former Chief Sustainability Officer and Presidential cabinet member at Widener University. In 1996 he brought among the first lawsuits to enforce Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment and has assisted efforts to recognize environmental rights in Maryland, Delaware and elsewhere in the U.S. and multiple countries globally.  

May has published extensively about environmental, constitutional and human rights law, including in ELI’s Principles of Constitutional Environmental Law in 2011. He has also published widely about Environmental Human Rights, including Environmental Constitutionalism (Edward Elgar 2014), Global Environmental Constitutionalism (Cambridge 2015), Implementing Environmental Constitutionalism (Cambridge 2018), the Encyclopedia of Human Rights and the Environment (Edward Elgar 2019), Environmental Rights, the Development of Standards (Cambridge 2020), and the Environmental Human Rights and the Anthropocene (Cambridge, March 2023).  

May spearheaded the effort that led to the American Bar Association adopting a resolution to advance environmental justice in 2021, and currently serves as the Special Legal Advisor to the American Bar Association Task Force on Environmental Justice. He is an inducted member of Phi Kappa Phi and the American College of Environmental Lawyers. He is a recipient of the Robinson Environmental Law Award at Haub School of Law at Pace University, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Kansas School of Law. He is the four-time recipient of the Douglas E. Ray Scholarship Award and the former H. Albert Young Awardee in Constitutional Law at Widener University Delaware Law. He has received awards from the Sierra Club and the American Canoe Association for his legal advocacy as a federal litigator working pro bono to enforce the nation’s environmental and natural resources laws and has been twice recognized by LawDragon as one of the world’s leading environmental lawyers.  

He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Bowman Scholar) and J.D. from the University of Kansas, where he was an Appellate Advocacy Instructor and National Environmental Law Moot Court Champion. May previously served as a civil appointee Q-clearance nuclear weapons engineer under contract for the Departments of Defense and Energy. 

Curriculum Vitae

James R. May CV