Sharon Tisher, EES Faculty Spotlight

Our faculty spotlight this semester is Dr. Sharon Tisher, an EES faculty member who teaches two popular classes on Environmental, Law and Policy, and Energy, Law, and Environment. Her principal research and writing project, A Climate Chronology, is ongoing.   Dr. Tisher was recently interviewed by Izzy Kostelnick , the EES Social Media Coordinator.


“I came to teach at UMaine in a roundabout way. In college I was torn between the goal I had set for myself in high school — to teach and write about literature —and the urge to work to address the problems in my world — war, injustice, and environmental degradation. The Clean Air Act was passed and the first Earth Day celebrated in my first year in college, and the Clean Water Act two years later.”

“After graduating from college, I sought a dose of the “real world” by working as a correctional officer at the Connecticut Women’s Prison, and teaching a course in corrections history and policy at the University of New Haven. That work propelled me to Harvard Law School, where I worked for the EPA Region I and for consumer advocate Ralph Nader while in school. After law school I joined the largest law firm in Connecticut, determined to hone my advocacy skills. I joined the trial department, became the firm’s first woman partner, and wrote the firm’s policy on parental leave and part time partnership. My husband, a psychiatrist, also took the unprecedented step of doing his internship and residency part time to be with the children.”


“When our children were school age, we decided we most wanted to return to my home state of Maine to raise them. What was then the Resource Economics Department at UMaine was hunting for a lawyer to teach a course on environmental law and policy, and I grabbed for it. I soon thereafter joined the faculty of the Honors College. I had come full circle, merging my early ambitions of teaching literature, and actively engaging with policy in the real world. My part time status gave me time to work with leading environmental organizations in Maine, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and the Environmental Health Strategy Association (now Defend Our Health), through their boards and various committees and task forces.


“The students of course: talented, hard-working, curious, courageous, caring about the world and determined to make a difference. In all of my teaching across the disciplines, I try to focus on skills necessary to make that difference: critical thinking, careful reading, collaborative working, and effective advocacy in speech and writing.”