Eric T. Freyfogle

Research Professor
Swanlund Chair Emeritus


Professor Eric Freyfogle, a Research Professor and Swanlund Chair Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, received his JD summa cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was managing editor of the Michigan Law Review. He fulfilled a military obligation by serving in the Secretary of the Army’s office as assistant to the army general counsel and then practiced law in Indianapolis for three years before joining the law faculty in 1983.

Professor Freyfogle is the author or editor of a dozen books dealing with issues of humans and nature, some focused on legal aspects, others reaching to larger cultural and social issues. His work is broadly interdisciplinary – drawing upon history, philosophy, biological sciences, economics, and literature – and is guided by a conservation ethic that seeks better ways for humans to live in nature.

His works on conservation thought include Agrarianism and the Good Society(University Press of Kentucky, 2007); Why Conservation is Failing and How It Can Regain Ground (Yale University Press, 2006); The New Agrarianism (Island Press, 2001) (editor); and Justice and the Earth (The Free Press, 1993; paper ed. 1995). His conservation book, Bounded People, Boundless Lands: Envisioning a New Land Ethic (Island Press, 1998), was awarded the Adult Nonfiction Award of the Society of Midland Authors. Due out in 2017 from the University of Chicago Press are two new monographs, A Good That Transcends: How U.S. Culture Undermines Environmental Reform and Our Oldest Task: Making Sense of Our Place in Nature.

Writings focused particularly on private rights in nature include On Private Property: Finding Common Ground on the Ownership of Land (Beacon Press, 2007; paper ed. 2009) and The Land We Share: Private Property and the Common Good (Island Press, 2003; paper ed. 2011), along with the law school casebooks Natural Resources Law: Private Rights and the Public Interest (West 2015, with Michael Blumm and Blake Hudson); Property Law: Power, Governance, and the Common Good (West 2012, with Brad Karkkainen) and Natural Resources Law: Private Rights and Collective Governance (West 2007). With Professor Dale Goble of Idaho he is the author of Wildlife Law: Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 2002; 2d ed. 2010) and the first‑ever survey of all American wildlife law, Wildlife Law: A Primer (Island Press, 2009). With environmental philosopher J. Baird Callicott, he edited a volume of writings by conservationist Aldo Leopold, For the Health of the Land: Previously Unpublished Essays and Other Writings (1999).

His many scholarly articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the leading law reviews at Cornell, Duke, Michigan, New York University, Stanford, U.C.L.A., and Yale, and in all leading environmental law journals. Eight of his law review articles have been reprinted, as among the best articles of the year, in the annual volume Land Use & Environment Law Review. His work has also appeared in publications in Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa and as chapters in a dozen books. Significant essays on conservation thought and politics have appeared in the science journal, Conservation Biology, the political journal, Dissent, and elsewhere. His cover article for the magazine Orion was reprinted in a volume of best writing from Orion edited by nature writer Barry Lopez.

Professor Freyfogle has lectured widely, including endowed presentations at various universities and recent appearances in Canada, England, Brazil, and South Korea. He has also spoken to numerous conservation organizations, from local to national, and to a wide range of professional conservation and land-management societies. In April 2009 he served as distinguished visitor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand; in the fall of 2012 as a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study in Stellenbosch, South Africa; and in the fall of 2013 as a Herbert Smith Freehills Visitor to the Law Faculty of the University of Cambridge. A native of central Illinois, he has long been active in local, state, and national conservation efforts including current service on the Boards of Directors of the National Wildlife Federation and the Illinois-based Prairie Rivers Network. He enjoys birding, canoeing, hiking, and fingerstyle acoustic guitar.


JD University of Michigan
BA Lehigh University

Areas of Expertise

Environmental Ethics
Environmental Law and Conservation
Natural Resources Law
Property Law
Water Law
Wildlife Law


Econ Justice and Inequality
Law Teaching Practicum
Natural Resources
Scholarship of Sustainability

Selected Publications

Our Oldest Task: Making Sense of Our Place in Nature (forthcoming University of Chicago Press, 2017)

A Good That Transcends:  How U.S. Culture Undermines Environmental Reform (forthcoming University of Chicago Press, 2017)

Natural Resources Law:  Private Rights and the Public Interest (with Michael Blumm and Blake Hudson) (West Academic, 2015)

Property Law:  Power, Governance, and the Common Good (with Bradley Karkkainen) (West Academic, 2012)

Wildlife Law: Cases and Materials (with Dale Goble) (Foundation Press, 2d ed.  2010)

Wildlife Law: A Primer (with Dale Goble) (Island Press, 2009)

On Private Property: Finding Common Ground on the Ownership of Land (Beacon Press, 2007; paper ed. 2009)

Agrarianism and the Good Society: Land, Culture, Conflict & Hope (University Press of Kentucky, 2007)

Why Conservation is Failing and How It Can Regain Ground (Yale University Press, 2006)

The Land We Share:  Private Property & the Common Good (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 2003; paper ed. 2011)

Editor, The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, and the Community of Life (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 2001)

Co-Editor (with J. Baird Callicott) of Aldo Leopold, For the Health of the Land (Island Press/Shearwater Books 1999)

Bounded People, Boundless Lands: Envisioning a New Land Ethic (Island Press/Shearwater Books 1998)

Justice and the Earth:  Images for Our Planetary Survival (The Free Press, 1993; paper edition University of Illinois Press 1995)