Erin Ryan

Erin Ryan

Erin Ryan

Elizabeth C. & Clyde W. Atkinson Professor and Associate Dean for Environmental Programs
Contact Information

Florida State University College of Law
Advocacy Center, Room A227B
Phone: 850.645.0072


J.D., cum laude, Harvard University, 2001
M.A., Ethnomusicology, Wesleyan University, 1994
B.A., cum laude, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard-Radcliffe College, 1991

Erin Ryan is the Elizabeth C. and Clyde W. Atkinson Professor and Associate Dean for Environmental Programs at the Florida State University College of Law, overseeing the FSU Center for Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law. She specializes in environmental and natural resources law, water law, property and land use, federalism, and negotiation, and was recognized in 2022 with a university-wide teaching award for Innovation in Teaching.

Ryan has presented widely in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, the National Association of Attorneys General, the United States Forest Service, and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. She has advised National Sea Grant multilevel governance studies involving Chesapeake Bay and consulted with multiple institutions on developing sustainability programs. She has appeared in the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Foreign Policy, Huffington Post, London Financial Times, National Public Radio, Thomson-Reuters Beijing, and local NBC and CBS Television News. She is the author of over fifty scholarly works and twenty-five others, including Federalism and the Tug of War Within (Oxford, 2012). She has lectured at leading universities and government agencies in China, India, Japan, Vietnam, Israel, England, Northern Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, and Australia.

Ryan is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and a Hewlett Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Research Project. She clerked for Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before practicing environmental, land use, and local government law in San Francisco. She began her academic career at the College of William & Mary in 2004, joined the faculty at the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in 2011, and moved to Florida State in 2015. Ryan served as a Fulbright Scholar in China, where she taught American law, studied Chinese governance, and lectured throughout the country. In 2019, she was selected as a Research Fellow by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich and spent the summer in residence there.

Prior to law school, Ryan served as a U.S. Forest Service ranger on the Mono Lake District of the Inyo National Forest, east of Yosemite National Park. She graduated from Harvard College with a degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and received a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University.


Select Recent and Forthcoming Publications

The Public Trust Doctrine, Private Rights in Water, and The Mono Lake Story (Cambridge University Press) (forthcoming 2023).

The Public Trust Doctrine, Property, and Society, in Property, Law, and Society (Nicole Graham et al., editors) (Routledge 2022).

The Twin Environmental Law Problems of Preemption and Political Scale, in Environmental Law, Disrupted (Keith Hirokawa & Jessica Owley, eds.) (Environmental Law Institute 2020).

Federalism as Legal Pluralism, in The Oxford Handbook on Legal Pluralism (Paul Berman, editor) (2020).

Privatization, Public Commons, and the Takingsification of Environmental Law, 171 U. Penn. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2023).

How the Successes and Failures of the Clean Water Act Fueled the Rise of the Public Trust Doctrine and Rights of Nature Movement, 73 Case Western Res. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2023).

Environmental Rights for the 21st Century: Comparing the Public Trust Doctrine and the Rights of Nature Movement (with Holly Curry & Hayes Rule), 42 Cardozo L. Rev. 2447 (2021).

Tribute to Professor David Markell: A Colleague Among Colleagues, 36 J. Land Use & Envtl. L.__ (forthcoming 2021).

Environmental Law, Disrupted by COVID-19 (with Rebecca Bratspies, Vanessa Casado Perez, Robin Kundis Craig, Lissa Griffin, Keith Hirokawa, Sarah Krakoff, Katrina Kuh, Jessica Owley, Melissa Powers, Shannon Roesler, Jonathan Rosenbloom, J.B. Ruhl & David Takacs), 51 Envtl. L. Rep. 10509 (2021).

Rationing the Constitution vs. Negotiating It: Coan, Mud, and Crystals in the Context of Dual Sovereignty, 2020 Wisc. L. Rev. 165 (2020).

A Short History of the Public Trust Doctrine and its Intersection with Private Water Law, 39 Virginia Envtl. L.J. 135 (2020).

From Mono Lake to the Atmospheric Trust: Navigating the Public and Private Interests in Public Trust Resource Commons, 10 Geo. Wash. J. Energy & Envtl. L. 39 (2019).

Juliana v. United States: Debating the Fundamentals of the Fundamental Right to a Sustainable Climate (with Mary Wood, James Huffman, Richard Frank & Irma Russell), 45 Fla. St. L. Rev. Online 1 (2018) at

Breathing Air with Heft: An Experiential Report on Environmental Regulation and Public Health in China, 42 U.C. Davis Environs 195 (2018).

Negotiating Environmental Federalism: Dynamic Federalism as a Strategy for Good Governance, 2017 Wis. L. Rev. 17 (2017).

Secession and Federalism in the United States: Tools for Managing Regional Conflict in a Pluralist Society, 96 Or. L. Rev. 123 (2017). Republished in Alberto Lopez-Basaguren and Leire Escajedo San Epifanio, eds., Claims for Secession and Federalism: A Comparative Study with a Special Focus on Spain (Springer, 2019).

Fisheries Without Courts: How Fishery Management Reveals Our Dynamic Separation of Powers, 32 J. Land Use & Envtl. L. 431 (2017).