Professor Light’s research examines issues at the intersection of environmental law, corporate sustainability, and business innovation. Her articles have addressed the regulatory implications of the rise of transportation platforms like Uber and Lyft; how business innovation, such as Microsoft’s adoption of a private carbon fee, can be a form of private environmental governance; and the U.S. military’s role in stimulating private technological innovation to reduce fossil fuel use in what Light has called The Military-Environmental Complex. Her articles have appeared in and are forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, the UCLA Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, and the Emory Law Journal, among others.
In 2017, Professor Light was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award in the MBA Program at Wharton. In 2016, Professor Light was one of ten faculty nominated by the MBA student body for the Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Award for Outstanding MBA Teaching.
JD, Yale Law School, 2000
M. Phil, Politics, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar), 1997
A.B., Social Studies, Magna Cum Laude, Harvard University, 1995
Academic Positions Held
The Wharton School, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, 2013-present.
Previous appointments: Columbia University, Lecturer, Earth Institute; Brooklyn Law School, Visiting Assistant Professor; Fordham Law School, Adjunct Associate Professor.
Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Civil Division, 2001-2011.
Chief, Environmental Protection Unit, United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Civil Division, 2007-2011.
Law Clerk, Honorable John M. Walker, Jr., Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 2000-2001.
Pro Bono Mediator, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Pro Bono Mediator, New York Peace Institute.
Sarah E. Light (2019), Insuring Nature (forthcoming November 2019), Duke Law Journal.
Sarah E. Light (2018), The Role of Universities in Private Environmental Governance Experimentalism, Organization & Environment.
Sarah E. Light, “The Role of the Federal Government in Regulating the Sharing Economy”. In Cambridge Handbook on the Law of the Sharing Economy, edited by Nestor Davidson, Michèle Finck, and John Infranca, (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2018), (2018)
Eric Biber, Sarah E. Light, J. B. Ruhl, James Salzman (2017), Regulating Business Innovation as Policy Disruption: From the Model T to Airbnb, Vanderbilt Law Review, 70 (5), pp. 1561-1626.
Sarah E. Light and Eric W. Orts, “Public and Private Procurement in Environmental Governance”. In Policy Instruments in Environmental Law, edited by Ken Richards & Josephine van Zeben (Edward Elgar, forthcoming), (2017)
LGST 806 Syllabus (Spring 2019): https://apps.wharton.upenn.edu/syllabi/2019A/LGST806408/
LGST 215/815 Syllabus (Spring 2019): https://apps.wharton.upenn.edu/syllabi/2019A/LGST215401/
This course provides an introduction to environmental management by focusing on foundational concepts of environmental law and policy and how they affect business decisions. The primary aim of the course is to give students a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment, the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection, and how business managers can think about managing their relationship with both the environment and the law.
This course examines the art and science of negotiation, with additional emphasis on conflict resolution. Students will engage in a number of simulated negotiations ranging from simple one-issue transactions to multi-party joint ventures. Through these exercises and associated readings, students explore the basic theoretical models of bargaining and have an opportunity to test and improve their negotiation skills. Cross-listed with MGMT 691/OPIM 691. Format: Lecture, class discussion, simulation/role play, and video demonstrations. Materials: Textbook and course pack.
This course provides an introduction to environmental management with a focus on law and policy as a basic framework. The primary aim of the course is to give students a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment and to think critically about how best to manage this relationship.
This course examines the art and science of negotiation. This course develops managerial skills by combining lectures with practice, using exercises where students negotiate with each other. Over the course of the semester, students will engage in a number of simulated negotiations ranging from simple one issue transactions to multi-party joint ventures. Through these exercises and associated readings, students explore the basic theoretical models of bargaining and have an opportunity to test and improve their negotiation skills. Cross-listed with LGST 806 and OIDD 691.
Negotiation is the art and science of creating good agreements. In this course we will work on both, studying economics and psychology for the science, and practicing actual negotiations for the art. Throughout we think of negotiation in general terms, relevant not only to salary negotiations and home buying, but performance evaluations, speeches, group collaborations and interpersonal relationships. We practice these kinds of negotiations in 2-, 3-, 4-, and 6-person exercises. Potential reasons to skip this particular negotiation course: 1) We have a strong attendance policy, 2) We have strong no-computers/phones policies, 3) the course is very discussion oriented, 4) We survey your work colleagues about your influence tactics, and 5) you have a short assignment due almost every class. Beginning with the second week of class, if you miss one class you lose a letter grade. If you miss two classes you fail. We have this policy because it is an experiential class, and because your attendance directly affects classmates you are paired with. For some weeks you can attend another section if necessary. Cross-listed with MGMT691 and LGST806.
The ARCS Emerging Sustainability Scholar Award recognizes a scholar in the area of corporate sustainability who is likely
to make significant contributions to the advancement of corporate sustainability scholarship. The award will be granted
in recognition of a scholar’s existing body of research and in anticipation of the scholar’s research trajectory. The
selection committee will look for candidates with rigorous and salient contributions that cross disciplinary and national
Sarah E. Light, Precautionary Federalism and the Sharing Economy, 66 Emory L.J. 333 (2017) was selected for Honorable Mention by the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, a joint publication of the Environmental Law Institute and Vanderbilt Law School. The article was selected as one of the seven “best environmental law or policy ideas” from a pool of “hundreds of law journal articles on environmental topics published between August 2016-and July 2017” by “environmental leaders from the academy as well as the public and private sectors.”
Annual peer-selected compendium of leading articles in environmental law.
The Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Award is awarded annually at Commencement to the one faculty member "who has exemplified outstanding teaching quality during the last year." A list of nominees is generated through a vote by MBA students and nominations from academic departments. The Anvil Award Selection Committee, comprised of student leaders, administrators and past Anvil Award winners, selects the recipient.
Sarah E. Light, The Military-Environmental Complex, 55 B.C. L. Rev. 879 (2014) was selected as one of the year’s “best law and policy-relevant ideas on the environment from the legal academic literature,” (one of four winners selected from over 400 articles), with abridged version reprinted in the Environmental Law & Policy Annual Review (2015).
The Haub Environmental Law Distinguished Junior Scholar Award is presented annually to an emerging junior environmental law professor who exhibits scholarly excellence and promise at an early stage in his/her career. The Haub School invites the award recipient to present his/her recent scholarship to the Haub community. The Haub Environmental Law Faculty solicits nominations from law professors throughout the country and selects a recipient from that pool of nominations.
The military is setting an example as an unequivocal supporter of technologies and strategies that address energy, water and transportation efficiencies.
Sarah Light and Lori Snyder Bennear on Shell’s Arctic Exit
A recent proposal by the White House to roll back Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards will face an uphill legal battle, experts say.Knowledge @ Wharton - 2018/08/10