Sharmila L. Murthy
Professor of Law and Public Policy
Harvard Kennedy School of Government, MPA
Harvard Law School, JD
Professor Sharmila Murthy joined the Northeastern University in 2023 as professor of law and public policy within the School of Law and the College of Social Sciences. Initially, Professor Murthy is on leave to serve as director for environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she previously served as senior counsel. Her scholarship focuses on examining legal barriers to achieving environmental justice, improving access to water, and addressing climate change.
Murthy most recently served as professor of law and director of faculty scholarship and research at Suffolk University Law School (on leave in 2021/2022 to serve at the White House Council on Environmental Quality). Murthy’s scholarship focuses on examining legal barriers to achieving environmental justice, improving access to water, and addressing climate change. In recognition of her scholarship on access to drinking water and sanitation and on climate change, she was named the 2021 Haub Environmental Law Distinguished Junior Scholar by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. She also received the Charles P. Kindregan Scholarship Award from Suffolk University Law School in 2022. She has been recognized with three different teaching awards from Suffolk University, and received several awards for her mentorship of students, including being named Faculty Advisor of the Year by the American Constitution Society (ACS) in 2021. She also served as chair of the Environmental Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools, which received the Section of the Year Award in 2019 under her direction.
Previously, Murthy was a visiting scholar and fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she co-founded the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Program at Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. In 2014, she was selected as a finalist for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. Murthy began her legal career as a public interest poverty lawyer. She was awarded a Skadden Fellowship to work with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, where she received the New Advocate of the Year award from the Tennessee Alliance of Legal Services. Murthy also litigated complex and class action cases as an associate with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein.
Murthy has also served on the boards of numerous non-profits, including the Conservation Law Foundation, HumanRight2Water and Justice at Work. She is a past president of the Boston lawyer ACS chapter. In addition, she previously served as the president of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the founding president of the Nashville lawyer ACS chapter.
Murthy received her JD from Harvard Law School, her MPA from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and her BS in natural resources from Cornell University. She clerked for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and was also a US Fulbright Scholar in India.
- “Translating Legal Norms into Quantitative Indicators: Lessons from the Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector,” 42 William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review 385 (2018).
- “The Role of Adaptation in Mobile Technology Innovation for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene,” 13 Water Practice & Technology 143 (co-author) (2018).
- “Water and Conflict in Central Asia: The Role of International Law and Diplomacy,” 18 Vermont Journal of Environmental Law 400 (co-author) (2017).
- “A New Constitutive Commitment to Water,” 36 Boston C. J. of Law & Soc. Just. 151 (2016).
“Addressing Barriers in the Water-Recycling Innovation System to Reach Water Security in Arid Countries,” J. Cleaner Production (2016).
- Making Technological Innovation Work for Sustainable Development, Proc. of the Nat. Acad. of Sciences (co-author) (2016).
- “Constitutional Impediments to Decentralization in the World’s Largest Federal Country [India],” 26 Journal of Comparative & International Law 78 (co-author) (2016).
- “Can International Water Law be a Tool for ‘Water Diplomacy’?,” 27 Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict 17 (2014).
- “The Human Right(s) to Water and Sanitation: History, Meaning and the Controversy over Privatization,” 31 Berkeley Journal of International Law Vol. 89 (2013).
- “The Human Right to Water in Israel: A Case Study of the Unrecognized Bedouin Villages in the Negev,” 46 Israel Law Review 25 (co-author) (2013).
- “Reconciling the Carbon Market and the Human Right to Water: The Role of Suppressed Demand under Clean Development Mechanism and the Gold Standard,” 43 Environmental Law 517 (co-author) (2013).
- “Land Security and the Challenges of Realizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in the Slums of Mumbai, India,” 14 Health and Human Rights Journal 1 (co-author) (2012).
- “Iraq’s Constitutional Mandate to Justly Distribute Water: The Implications of Federalism, Islam, International Law and Human Rights,” 42 George Washington International Law Review 749 (co-author) (2010).
- “The Self-Employed Women’s Association’s (SEWA) Rural Savings and Credit Program in Gujarat, India,” Harvard Kennedy School of Government Review (co-author) (2000).
“Why We Need National Water Affordability Legislation,” Harvard Law and Policy Review Blog (March 21, 2016).
“Lessons from Flint’s Water Crisis,” Cognoscenti (February 8, 2016).
“The Right to Water in the Slums of Mumbai, India,” 93 Bulletin of the World Health Organization 815 (2015).
“Opening The Taps: The Case For Water Affordability Legislation,” Cognoscenti (March 20, 2015).
“In India, Dying To Go: Why Access To Toilets Is A Women’s Rights Issue,” Cognoscenti (June 25, 2014).
“Iraqi Elections are of Strategic Interest to U.S,” Op-Ed, The Tennessean (3/6/2009).
- “Exploring Urban Water Challenges in the Middle East: Integrating Islamic Principles with Demand Management Strategies,” in Water Governance: An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures, 164-192 (co-author) (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2013).