Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs


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Seminar Series: Co-Cities: Reimagining Cities and City Space as Common Goods

Wednesday, December 02, 2020, 12:30pm - 01:45pm

Professor Sheila Foster, Georgetown University Law School and McCourt School of Public Policy

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Professor Sheila Foster will present findings from a multi-year project on "Co-Cities," which is also the title of a forthcoming co-authored book. Foster and her collaborators surveyed over 180 cities around the world and over 500 policies and projects as part of a decade-long investigation into the ways that urban commons—collectively shared and collaboratively stewarded resources—can be created and sustained in different political, social and economic environments.

In many of these cities, they witnessed the collective and collaborative governance of various urban resources such as built, environmental, cultural, and digital goods that are co-created and co-managed through contractual or institutionalized public-community partnerships (PCPs) and public-community-private partnerships (PCPPs). 

The goal of this empirical aspect of this project was to extract some of the characteristics of these diverse efforts and to develop a common framework and understanding of the patterns, processes, practices, and public policies that position local communities as key political, economic, and institutional actors and stewards in the delivery of services, production, and management of urban assets or local resources. 

The result of this research project is to offer design principles that reflect the conditions and factors observed as necessary to rethink the city as a “commons”—a shared infrastructure on which various urban actors can cooperate and collaborate and where various initiatives of collective action can emerge, flourish, and become sustainable.

Sheila R. Foster is the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Urban Law and Policy at Georgetown University. She holds a joint appointment with the Georgetown Law School and the McCourt School of Public Policy. 

Foster is a recognized authority on the role of cities and city leadership in promoting social and economic welfare, achieving environmental and climate justice, improving global governance, and addressing racial inequality. She is the chair of the advisory committee for the Global Parliament of Mayors, a member of the New York City Mayor's Panel on Climate Change, and a former member of the Aspen Institute's Urban Innovation Group.

Foster also co-directs LabGov, an international applied research project that has pioneered an award-winning approach to economic development that enables local communities to become co-creators and stewards of urban revitalization in their neighborhoods.