Professor Spotlight on Randall Abate

Professor Randall AbateRandall Abate, J.D., is the inaugural Rechnitz Family Urban Coast Institute (UCI) Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy, and a Professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology.

He teaches courses in domestic and international environmental law, constitutional law, and animal law. Abate joined the University’s faculty this year, with 24 years of full-time law teaching experience at six law schools in the U.S.

Abate has taught international and comparative law courses, and delivered lecture series, on environmental and animal law topics in numerous countries around the world.

In April 2013, he taught a Climate Change Law and Justice course at the National Law Academy in Odessa, Ukraine on a Fulbright Specialist grant. Since 2014, he has delivered invited presentations and courses in several countries worldwide.

Early in his career, Abate handled environmental law matters at two law firms in Manhattan; however, he explained that teaching has always been his passion and purpose. “For me, the practice of law was never something that I saw as a long-term goal for my career. I knew I wanted to teach; I knew I wanted to do scholarly writing. But [working with those law firms provided] valuable exposure to the practice of environmental law,” he said.

Abate explained that the ability in his new position to both teach and apply his research, and still work with students, provides him with greater time to be involved with the University and community, something that he said would otherwise not be possible as just a professor of law at a law school.

“It’s a position that values and seeks what I like to contribute, which is advancing discussions on the issues that I’m familiar with,” he said.

“One thing [that was] very attractive to me, and made it very easy to pursue this opportunityr was the idea of using what I’m doing in my writing and teaching through the UCI,” said Abate.

“They are doing things on the ground and in the community that are related to the work that I do.”

Abate also noted that the reduced teaching load allows him to participate in more scholarship, lectures, and events on campus, such as his work with the UCI to develop new programs. Among these programs is the proposed UCI Spring Symposium on “Climate Change, Coasts, and Communities” in April 2019.

Abate explained that the symposium would have, “an added emphasis on the human side of how climate change affects people’s lives, not just infrastructure and resources.” Another initiative is the the proposed UCI Summer Institute, wherein work is underway to  offer courses to Monmouth students and students from other universities to learn about the intersectionality between law and science on marine and coastal issues. Abate explained that one of these courses could be offered as early as May 2019.

Abate has also been working across disciplines to assemble a group of animal protection experts on campus, including Dr. Corey Wrenn (Sociology), Dr. Lindsay Mehrkam (Psychology), Dr. Chris Hirschler (Health and Physical Education), and Professor Mary Harris (Communication). They hope to establish several new initiatives on campus; including a guest speaker series on animal protection issues, a conference focused on animal law, policy, and science; and a faculty-led study abroad program in Sydney, Australia focused on animal protection issues that could start as early as summer 2020.

“Dr. Abate is passionate about the negative consequences facing marginalized communities in an era of extreme climate change; this includes nonhuman animals,” said Wrenn. “Since joining Monmouth, he’s been a driving force in organizing animal allies on campus and we’re hoping to increase the profile of animal issues in the campus community in the near future.”

She continued, “Dr. Abate is a respected and prolific scholar in the area of animal ethics and legal efforts to better the social status of nonhumans, having written several books and papers on the subject area. He’s just an all around nice guy and I’m so excited to call him a colleague.”

Abate also serves as the adviser to the Youth Activists. Davina Matadin, a junior computer science student and the club’s President said, “Professor Abate has been enthusiastic about Youth Activists since the day he joined our club. His passion for environmental sustainability and social reform inspires our whole club to get involved and make a difference in our world.”

Abate’s passion for environmental justice, law, and teaching are evident from those who have learned from him.

“When I learned that Professor Abate was coming to Monmouth, I immediately signed up for his summer course, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made,” said Kelly Hanna, a senior marine and environmental biology and policy student. “I have learned so much from him in such a short time, and I have been inspired by his commitment to his work, his beliefs, and his desire to help his students.”

“For me, academics is the ultimate public service position because I have always treated it as a seven days per week job; it’s a labor of love,” said Abate. 

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University