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The Lab @ DC: The Co-City: Mapping the New Urban Commons

March 29 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


The Lunch @ DC with Sheila Foster

What do participatory budgeting, collaboration pacts, community land trusts, microgrids, and wireless and broadband mesh networks have in common? They represent experimental forms of civic innovation that address urban inequality and the inaccessibility of a range of common goods and services to populations most in need of them. Sheila Foster, a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University, will share some of the results of an applied research project mapping local innovations and public policies from over 100 cities around the world that are transforming the way we think about how city space and shared goods are used, who has access to them, and how their resources are allocated and distributed. This research project is the basis for the emergence of a new framework for cities, the “Co-City.” At the heart of a Co-City are local innovations and policies that enable and support the co-design, co-production and co-governance of housing, underutilized land, open space, public funds, wireless and broadband networks, data, and other resources so that they better meet the needs of local communities and are made available, accessible and affordable to a broader range of urban residents.


Sheila R. Foster is a joint Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University. Prior to joining Georgetown, she was a University Professor and the Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law at Fordham University. She also co-directed the Fordham Urban Law Center and was a founder of the Fordham University Urban Consortium. She served as Associate Dean and then Vice Dean at Fordham Law School from 2008-2014. Prior to joining Fordham, she was a Professor of Law at the Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey.

Professor Foster writes in the areas of environmental law and justice, urban land use law and policy, and state and local government. Her most recent work explores questions of urban law and governance through the lens of the “commons” exemplified by her recent work, The City as a Commons, Yale Law and Policy Review (2016) and The Co-City, forthcoming MIT Press (2019) (both with Christian Iaione).

In addition to her writings on the subject, she has been involved in policy and other experiments applying the urban commons concept in different U.S. and international cities. Professor Foster, along with her colleagues at Fordham University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Arizona, were recently awarded a $1 million grant by the National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Communities division to apply the Co-City methodology to address the digital divide in underserved communities in Harlem, New York City.

Professor Foster has been involved on many levels with urban policy and governance. Currently, she is the chair of the Advisory Committee of the Global Parliament of Mayors, is an advisory board member of the Marron Institute for Urban Management at NYU, and is a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. She was previously a member of the Aspen Institute’s Urban Innovation Working Group. She is co-director of the international research Laboratory for the Governance of the Commons (LabGov) which hosts the “Co-Cities Project,” an applied research project on public policies and local projects from over 100 cities around the world.


March 29
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


The Lab @ DC


Wilson Building, G9
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC United States
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