Rebecca Bratspies

Environmental Law Suite


B.A., Wesleyan University
J.D., University of Pennsylvania, Cum Laude

Professor Rebecca Bratspies is the 2024 Visiting Professor of Environmental Law and Haub Visiting Scholar. Professor Bratspies is a Professor at CUNY School of Law, where she is the founding director of the Center for Urban Environmental Reform. While at Haub Law, Professor Bratspies will teach Administrative Law and a Health and the Environment seminar. Professor Bratspies serves on NYC’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, is a member-scholar with the Center for Progressive Reform, a board member of the Environmental Law Collective, and a member of the NYC Bar Environmental Committee. ABA-SEER honored her work with its 2021 Commitment to Diversity and Justice Award.  She was named the Center for International Sustainable Development Law’s 2022 International Legal Specialist for Human Rights Award, and her environmental justice advocacy has been awarded the PSC-CUNY “In It Together” Award, and the Eastern’ Queens Alliance’s Snowy Egret Award. In 1994-95, she was a Luce Scholar seconded to the Republic of China Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei, Taiwan. Before that, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable C. Arlen Beam on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Courses Taught

Administrative Law

Course Number: Law 671
Course Credits: 3
This course is a study of the organization, function, and procedures of state and federal administrative agencies, including the investigatory, rulemaking, adjudicatory, and enforcement functions of such agencies, and judicial review of administrative action.

Environmental Law Seminar: Health and the Environment

Course Number: LAW 797Z
Course Credits: 2
This class will immerse students in advocacy for environmental justice and the right to a safe, healthy, clean, and sustainable environment. It will help students connects the dots between inequality, exposure to pollution, and vulnerability to the looming climate crisis, and will cultivate student ability to think creatively about how law can respond to environmental injustice. Building on the United Nations prediction that by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, this class will focus on urban environments, and will use New York City as a case study. Drawing on the core environmental justice principles of fair treatment and meaningful involvement, this class will explore the many ways that local environmental and land use decisions in cities like New York impact the health and welfare of affected communities. We will examine how federal environmental laws, regulations, and policies intersect with these local land use choices to shape the distribution of both public goods like greenspaces, public transit, quality schools, safe streets, and public ‘bads’ like power plants, waste transfer stations, and truck routes. Students will trace the spillover environmental and health implications of those choices, including disparately high asthma rates, COVID-19 infection rates, and levels of childhood lead poisoning in environmental justice communities. Drawing on urban commons theory, we will consider how different framings of public and private property might disrupt or support these local land use choices. Throughout the semester, students will work collaboratively to identify legal problems, and possible law-based or regulatory-based solutions to contemporary problems of environmental justice and related social justice concerns such as food justice, disaster justice, and climate justice.