Philip McKnight

Adjunct Instructor, Environmental Studies

Philip McKnight
(413) 662-5548
Center for Science & Innovation 225


J.D., University of Chicago Law School

B.A., Williams College

Courses Taught

ENVI 340: Environmental Law

ENVI 340H: Honors Environmental Law

Environmental Law

The course I teach at MCLA on environmental law and environmental history is designed to provide a thorough understanding of the development of an American consciousness towards the environment as a matter of our history and our law. We first look at the reasons Western Europeans came to the New World and how those reasons were changed and molded by their experience on the frontier and during westward travel across this vast continent. After studying the effects of such an experience on our national character, we then turn to a consideration of the laws that were passed largely beginning in the 1970s designed to address the consequences of the pollution and natural resources destruction which inevitably came with economic expansion and industrialization. We analyze the laws themselves and the history of their applications through a law school textbook, law review articles and Supreme Court opinions interpreting their language.

Given what has happened in this country in the past several years, particularly at the federal level, it is more important now than ever before that our students clearly understand both the opportunities and the limitations which environmental law provides a concerned, informed citizen.


I am a graduate of Williams College, Williamstown, MA, with an A.B. with highest honors in American History and Literature and in European History and of The University of Chicago Law School with a J.D. I practiced law as a trial and appellate attorney in the state and federal courts of New York and Connecticut and in Europe before the Iran – United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague, The Netherlands. I frequently lecture on subjects such as environmental law, Shakespeare and the law and the role of the law in American democracy.

I am a member in good standing of the Bar of The United States Supreme Court (1974). The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1976), The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (1970), The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (1970), The Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Judicial Department (1969), and The Superior Court of the State of Connecticut (1976).