The Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law at Three Years

Environmental Law text book and gavel

The Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law celebrated its third anniversary by marking its tremendous progress toward making the Case Western Reserve University School of Law a national presence in environmental law research and education. 

In just three years, the Burke Center has:

  • Hosted three interdisciplinary conferences on environmental law, on the 50th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act, and the Law of Environmental Health;
  • Hosted remarks by current and former environmental officials in each of the last six presidential administrations;
  • Hosted six webinars on environmental law topics, including the law and economics of climate change adaptation, wildlife conservation, and environmental law issues before the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • Provided over $1.5 million worth of scholarships to law students pursuing an interest in environmental law;
  • Arranged and sponsored student externships and capstones with a range of governmental agencies and NGOs, including the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Law Institute and Fair Shake Environmental Services; and
  • Expanded environmental law course offerings and created an environmental law concentration within the law school curriculum.

In 2022, the law school announced the creation of an Environmental Law Clinic; and Burke Center Director Jonathan H. Adler, the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law, was recognized as the fifth most cited professor of administrative and environmental law in the period 2016–2020.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, we have made substantial progress toward building a national program in environmental law,” said Professor Adler. “This is only the beginning of what is to come.”

In fall 2022, the Burke Center will host Visiting Professor Victor Flatt for the 2022–23 academic year. Flatt, who is the Dwight Olds Professor of Law and the Faculty Co-Director of the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Center at the University of Houston Law Center, will teach multiple courses in environmental law and governance. He is the Burke Center’s first Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

“The Burke Center is creating tremendous opportunities for our students and helping make the law school an ideal place to study environmental law,” commented Co-Dean Michael Scharf. “Given what we accomplished during the Covid-19 pandemic, we can only imagine what lies ahead for environmental law at Case,” he added.

The Burke Center was founded in May 2019 with a generous $10 million endowment gift from law school alumnus Coleman P. Burke (LAW '70), a noted businessman, conservationist and philanthropist. Founder and managing partner of Waterfront NY, Bulgroup Properties and North River Company, commercial real estate companies with holdings in eight states, Burke also served as a director of the National Audubon Society, National Forest Foundation, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden and the Wildlife Conservation Society, before his passing in 2020.