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Colloquium on the Law, Economics, and Politics of Urban Affairs

Student Perspectives

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Jennifer Coughlin (’03)

Taking a course that was jointly offered in the Wagner School of Public Service and NYU School of Law was one of the most interesting experiences of my Law School career. It was a unique opportunity to examine relevant and current problems confronted in the urban setting from a variety of viewpoints. Law students often become used to confronting issues from an exclusively legal perspective. By taking a course with students in the Wagner School, we were able to go beyond a simple legal analysis and study the causes of urban problems and the results of legal responses to those problems from different methodological perspectives and through the lens of different disciplines. Such a breadth of perspective was also brought to the Environmental Law Journal’s annual colloquium last spring, which focused on environmental impact review, the subject of a class being offered in the Wagner School. Several Wagner students attended the colloquium and were able to call attention to some of the broader policy concerns raised by such laws and regulations.

Ashley Miller (’04)

As a student interested in both law and urban planning, I knew right away that the Colloquium on the Law, Economics, and Politics of Urban Affairs was a course I wanted to take, but even with high expectations I was happily surprised. The participation of both law and planning students added a new dimension to the discussion, which I found useful in addressing such inherently interdisciplinary topics. It was inspiring to interact with scholars on their own work in progress, especially on such current and difficult issues as exclusionary suburban zoning, common-interest communities, and gentrification in New York City. The colloquium gave me a new appreciation for the complexity of urban issues, and a sense of the technical challenges of basing policy decisions on empirical work. The colloquium also highlighted the atmosphere of engagement and innovation at the Law School, as well as the benefits of being in New York City. New York gives students the ability to observe firsthand urban planning issues in context, as well as access to top-notch scholars working in the field.

Hannah Richman (Wagner ’03)

The best aspect of the Colloquium on the Law, Economics, and Politics of Urban Affairs was the collaboration between top-notch professors from the Wagner School and the Law School. Their complementary approaches to the evaluation of issues were stimulating. The process of formulating critical questions for the guest speakers, and thereafter preparing written critical evaluations of their answers, cultivated skills essential for graduates from both schools. The professors’ high standards and expectations also made the colloquium a particularly challenging and motivating course and experience. The Law School and the Wagner School exist in relative isolation from each other, but this colloquium afforded professors and students the opportunity to collaborate in a positive and intellectually stimulating environment.