Focus on the author: Sheila Foster

This article is a focus on the figure of Professor Sheila Foster, LabGov’s co-founder.

Sheila R. Foster is University Professor and the Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law at Fordham University. She is also the faculty co-director of the Fordham Urban Law Center. She served as Vice Dean of the Law School from 2011-2014 and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2008-2011. Professor Foster is the author of numerous publications on land use, environmental law, and antidiscrimination law. Her early work was dedicated to exploring the intersection of civil rights and environmental law, in a field called “environmental justice”. Her most recent work explores the legal and theoretical frameworks in which urban land use decisions are made. Land use scholars voted her article on Collective Action and the Urban Commons (Notre Dame Law Review, 2011) as one of the 5 best (out of 100) articles on land use published that year.Professor Foster is the recipient of two Ford Foundation grants for her on environmental justice and urban development. Professor Foster is also the coauthor of a recent groundbreaking casebook, Comparative Equality and Antidiscrimination Law: Cases, Codes, Constitutions and Commentary (Foundation Press, 2012). She has taught and conducted research internationally in Switzerland, Italy, France, England, Austria, Colombia, Panama, and Cuba. Her

Here is an anthology of her publications.


  • Comparative equality and antidiscrimination law: Cases, codes, constitutions and commentary, with David Oppenheimer and Sora Han (Foundation Press, 2012).
    “This casebook compares U.S. equality and anti-discrimination law with the law of several other legal systems, such as Europe, South Africa, China, Colombia, and Argentina. Coverage includes equality issues in marriage, employment, affirmative action, reproductive rights, state religion, religious minorities, hate speech, and federalism”.
  • The law of environmental justice: Theories and procedures to address disproportionate risks, co-editor with Michael B. Gerrard (American Bar Association, 2008).
    “Environmental justice is the concept that minority and low-income individuals, communities and populations should not be disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards, and that they should share fully in making the decisions that affect their environment”.
  • From the ground up: Environmental racism and the rise of the environmental justice movement, with Luke Cole (NYU Press, 2001). 
    “When Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order on Environmental Justice in 1994, the phenomenon of environmental racism—the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards, particularly toxic waste dumps and polluting factories, on people of color and low-income communities—gained unprecedented recognition. Behind the President’s signature, however, lies a remarkable tale of grassroots activism and political mobilization”. 

Recent Publications:

  • Vulnerability, Equality and Environmental Justice in Handbook of Environmental Justice (eds.  Jayajit Chakraborty and Gordon Walker) (forthcoming Routledge 2017)
  • The City as a Commons, with Christian Iaione (Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2016). “City space is highly contested space. As rapid urbanization takes hold around much of the world, contestations over city space – how that space is used and for whose benefit – are at the heart of many urban movements and policy debates”. Full article here.
  • Human Rights and Climate Change: Building Synergies for a Common Future, with Paolo Galizzi, in The Climate Change Law Encyclopedia (eds. Daniel Farber and Marjan Peeters, 2016). “Human rights exist only on the margins of the existing international climate change regime. Undoubtedly, bringing a human rights framework to international efforts can help to solidify the ethical moorings needed to compel meaningful action to address climate change. However, while advocates of a rights-based approach to climate change agree that human rights principles should underpin global climate change policies, there are many variations in how human rights may be defined, justified, and brought to bear in the climate change arena”. Full article here.
  • Comparative Urban Governance for Lawyers, with Fernanda Nicola (Fordham Urban Law Journal n. 42, 2015).
    “How can some cities’ experiences guide and enrich our understanding of what cities in other parts of the world should or should not do? What is the relevance of these comparisons in determining what type of economic development agenda is more suitable to a specific political and economic environment? How can interdisciplinary tools be utilized to establish some entry points for cross-national comparisons? What are the limitations of crossnational comparisons given the ways in which most local governments around the world are constrained within a vertical system of legal
    Full article here.
  • Breaking up Payday: Anti-Agglomeration Zoning and Consumer Welfare (Ohio State Law Journal n. 75, 2014).
    “Dozens of local governments have enacted zoning ordinances designed to limit the concentration of payday lenders and other alternative financial services providers (AFSPs), such as check-cashing businesses and auto title loan shops, in their communities. The main impetus for these ordinances is to shield economically vulnerable residents from the industry’s lending practices in the absence of sufficiently aggressive federal and state consumer protection regulation.
    This article casts considerable doubt on whether zoning is the appropriate regulatory tool to achieve the consumer protection and welfare goals animating these ordinances”. 
    Full article here.
  • The Mobility Case for Regionalism, with Nestor Davidson (UC Davis Law Review n. 47, 2013).
    “In the discourse of local government law, the idea that a mobile populace can “vote with its feet” has long served as a justification for devolution and decentralization. Tracing to Charles Tiebout’s seminal work in public finance, the legal-structural prescription that follows is that a diversity of independent and empowered local governments can best satisfy the varied preferences of residents metaphorically shopping for bundles of public services, regulatory environment, and tax burden”.
    Full article here.
  • Collective Action and the Urban Commons (Notre Dame Law Review n. 87, 2011). 
    “Urban residents share access to a number of local resources in which they have a common stake. These resources range from local streets and parks to public spaces to a variety of shared neighborhood amenities. Collectively shared urban resources suffer from the same rivalry and free-riding problems that Garrett Hardin described in his Tragedy of the Commons tale. Scholars have not yet worked up a theory about how this tragedy unfolds in the urban context, particularly in light of existing government regulation and control of common urban resources”. 
    Full article here
  • Integrative Lawyering: Navigating the Political Economy of Urban Development, with Brian Glick (California Law Review n. 95, 2007).
    “In this article we explore how contemporary urban development practices present intriguing challenges for lawyers representing community-based organizations working to proactively rebuild their communities into ones that are both socially just and ecologically sustainable”.
    Full article here.
  • The City as an Ecological Space: Social Capital and Urban Land Use (Notre Dame Law Review n. 82, 2006).
    “The notion that certain uses of public and private property can have negative effects beyond legally defined property boundaries is firmly embedded in land use law. We are now comfortable regulating land use to prevent and control for impacts to our natural resources, environmental quality, and nuisances to third parties. This idea is partly rooted in economic theory – i.e., the existence of negative externalities – but also in the theory of ecology – i.e., the notion that property is inextricably part of a network of social and economic relationships and that its impacts traverse legally defined property boundaries. But not all impacts, or costs, of land use are properly accounted for in land use regulation”. 
    Full article here.

Additional publications can be found here.

Recently published articles:

  • The Co-City: from the Tragedy to the comedy of the Urban Commons, published on The Nature of Cities, November 2nd 2016. Available here.
  • Common threads: connections among the ideas of Jane Jacobs and Elinor Ostrom, and their relevance to urban socio-ecology, published on The Nature of Cities, May 28th, 2016. Available here.

  • Cities, Inequality and the Common Good, published on The Huffington Post, US Edition, October 30th 2015. Available here.

LabGov on Co-cities on agenda

Longtime LabGov member Elena de Nictolis and environmental law expert Chiara Prevete wrote an article on the “Open Government Forum” section. The article describes the modus operandi adopted by LabGov in fostering the trasformation of our cities in co-cities with a collaborative governance.

The “Co-City” action carried on by LabGov promotes collaboration as a technology using “incentive prizes, crowdsourcing, and citizen science to advance national priorities, collaborating with civil societies including companies, universities, foundations, non-profits, and the public”. This action also includes a methodology to develop a collaborative government structure, which enables various kinds of collective action: not only the voluntary, individual ones, neither that of associations, but also those originated by solidarity and by the shared management of services of common interest. 

The final aim of this action is to transform the cities into “co-cities“, that is collaborative cities, by means of the implementation of the governance of the commons design principles, outlined by the Nobel Prize Elinor Ostrom. This strategy aims at creating a quintuple helix institutional structure (an approach recognized by EU’s new Urban Agenda). This structure stimulates public-private partnerships, by involving five types of actors: civic (social innovators and active citizens), social (third sector organizations), cognitive (cultural institutions, schools and universities), public (public institutions) and private (local enterprises and industries). 

The methodological protocol is a key-element of this strategy, and it is divided into five steps:

  1. constitution of a civic collaboration unit, formed by experts in different subjects, to interact with the PA and support the whole process;
  2. social innovation mapping, by involving citizens and exploring the territory; 
  3. co-design paths, to coordinate the projects found in the previous step between them and with the city;  
  4. definition of polycentric and collaborative governance tools, tailored to the specific situation; 
  5. monitoring and evaluation of those governance tools.

As examples of this strategy and its adaptation to various local conditions, please visit,,,


If you are interested in this subject, please explore the full article here.


Elena de Nictolis e Chiara Prevete, in un articolo pubblicato su, hanno esposto i principi e il modus operandi che guidano l’azione Co-città portata avanti da LabGov negli ultimi anni. Quest’azione mira a trasformare le nostre città in città collaborative, basate sulla gestione cooperativa dei beni comuni urbani, risultante dall’interazione efficiente e costante tra i cinque attori chiave della società (modello a quintupla elica). Questa strategia si avvale inoltre di un protocollo metodologico volto a elaborare e applicare strumenti di governance policentrica fatti su misura per il contesto in cui si troveranno a operare.

Third Sector Seminar, July 7, Roma

Third Sector Seminar, July 7, Roma

Today, July 7, the Forum Terzo Settore held in Rome (in the Fondazione con il Sud headquarters) a seminar dedicated to the Council of Europe’s 2005 Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, mainly known as the Faro Convention

The main theme discussed in this seminar was the role of the Faro Convention as a fly-wheel for cultural policies, the value of cultural heritage to society, citizens’ role in this process and the “heritage communities“, defined by the Faro Convention (art. 2b) as “people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations“.

Maurizio Mumolo, coordinator of the Culture board of Forum Terzo Settore, said: “we think it is particularly important to examine in depth the Convention, in order to pinpoint the opportunities that the Convention itself offers to the organizations involved in Forum Terzo Settore, with a specific attention to the role of citizens in the process of identification with the cultural heritage.”

“Forum Terzo Settore leads a long-term path of studies and proposals in the field of cultural policies” said spokesperson Pietro Vittorio Barbieri, “considering these subjects very relevant to local development, social inclusion and community wellness.”

The seminar was especially dedicated to associations members of the Forum Terzo Settore and also hosted some experts in the subject, in order to offer various points of view and to shed a clear and broad light on the subject. LabGov coordinator, professor Christian Iaione, was also there as a professional, to add his own expertise to the debate. 

Here are some photos from the seminar.


Oggi 7 luglio si è tenuto a Roma, organizzato dalla consulta Cultura di Forum Terzo Settore, un seminario che aveva come oggetto la Convenzione di Faro sul valore del patrimonio culturale per la società e le opportunità che essa genera per i cittadini e per le associazioni operanti nel settore culturale. Il seminario era dedicato alle organizzazione socie di Forum Terzo Settore e ha visto la partecipazione di alcuni esperti in materia, tra cui il coordinatore di LabGov Christian Iaione

Technical meeting for Pilastro project, July 7, Bologna

Technical meeting for Pilastro project, July 7, Bologna

Pilastro is a development project of the Pilastro area, which is situated in the suburb of Bologna. The aim of this project is to add value to this zone, connecting the shared values of people with the economic needs of the area. Moreover, the Pilastro project is the first attempt to build a collaborative community.

Pilastro is part of the bigger Co-Bologna project, the cooperation agreement between the Municipality of Bologna and Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna to develop and promote new approches and cooperative models for the governance of the commons. 

On Thursday, July 7th, LabGov will be in Pilastro to meet some associations’ members and experts, in order to follow the process of collaboration-building. The main purpose of this technical meeting is to draw the basis of a participation strategy to regional and European calls, in order to support the local development office in the beginning of its activities

Due to the very technical nature of the subject, it seemed appropriate to discuss it in an early meeting with professionals (mainly planning experts, bound to the territory), in order to select the most suitable financing sources from the many available ones. The result of this technical meeting will be presented, discussed and refined in September, in a meeting open to those who are willing to participate.

You can find more information on this project here and here.


Giovedì 7 giugno LabGov sarà a Bologna per seguire lo sviluppo del progetto di collaborazione del quartiere Pilastro. L’incontro tecnico vedrà la partecipazione di vari membri di associazioni ed esperti, e avrà come scopo la definizione delle strategie di partecipazione ai bandi regionali ed europei, in modo da favorire l’avvio delle attività del progetto. I risultati di questo incontro tecnico saranno presentati, discussi e affinati dopo l’estate, in un incontro aperto a tutti coloro che vorranno partecipare. 

Focus on the author: Christian Iaione

This article is a focus on the figure of LabGov’s coordinator, professor Christian Iaione.

Christian Iaione is associate professor of public law at Guglielmo Marconi University of Rome, fellow of the Urban Law Center at Fordham University, and visiting professor of governance of the commons at LUISS Guido Carli. He is an expert of the EU Committee of the Regions and he is member of the Sharing Economy International Advisory Board of the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Prof. Iaione has published several articles in the field of public and administrative law and, in particular, land use, public goods and the commons, public services and public contracts, urban law and local government. He has authored two books on In house publicly-owned companies. Contribution to the principle of self-organization and self-production of local governments (Jovene, 2007 – 2012, II ed.) and The regulation of urban mobility (Jovene, 2008) and has co-authored Italy of the Commons (Carocci, 2012) and The Age of Sharing (Carocci, 2015).

Here is an anthology of his publications:


  • L’Italia dei beni comuni (with G.Arena), Carrocci, Rome, (2012).
  • L’età della condivisione (with G.Arena) Carrocci, Rome (2015).


Recent Publications:

  • La città collaborativa: la governance dei beni comuni per l’urbanistica collaborata e collaborativa, published in Agenda RE-CYCLE, Proposte per reinventare la città (Il Mulino, 2017). Available soon.
  • The City as a Commons (Yale Law and Policy Review, 2016), together with Sheila R. Foster. “City space is highly contested space. As rapid urbanization takes hold around much of the world, contestations over city space – how that space is used and for whose benefit – are at the heart of many urban movements and policy debates”. Full article here.
  • Lo Stato – Piattaforma di immaginazione civica, la politica e le istituzioni nel secolo del CO-, published in 25 anni di riforme della PA: troppe norme, pochi traguardi, 39 (Forum PA, Annual Report 2016). An analysis of how the State should begin to function as a Platform and of how institutions and policies should evolve in the “CO-” age – a period in which the key words seem to be community, collaboration, cooperation, communication, commons, co-design, co-production, co-management, co-housing, co-design, sharing, knowledge, etc. Full article here.
  • La quintupla elica come approccio alla governance dell’innovazione sociale, published in I luoghi dell’innovazione aperta, modelli di sviluppo territoriale e inclusione sociale, 74 (Quaderni, Fondazione G.Brodolini, Studi e Ricerche, November 2016).  In this paper it is stated that the “Collaborative City” (CO-City) urban co-governance framework, based on the three levels of sharing, pooling and poly-centrism, can facilitate collaborative and open knowledge production and social innovation processes within the city. Furthermore, the CO-City approach further elaborates on the triple helix governance model and develops a more complex and precise version, defined as quintuple helix model, which identifies the five actors of the polycentric governance. Full article here.
  • Poolism: sharing economy vs. pooling economy (LabGov website, 2015). Sharing economy builds on new or revived social patterns having important business, legal and institutional implications: the social practices of sharing and collaboration. They both build on the well known social practice of co-operation.
    Full article here.
  • The Co-City (American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2015).
    This paper introduces an innovative, experimental, adaptive, and iterative approach to creating legal and institutional frameworks based on urban polycentric governance to foster collaborative urban planning. Full article here.
  • The Collaborative and Polycentric Governance of the Urban and Local Commons (Urban Pamphleteer #5, 2015), together with Paola Cannavò. “Institutions, designed in a historical era in which the government handed out basic services to citizens, are nowadays required to design new types of services in collaboration with citizens. In order to define better forms of urban and local governance, it’s necessary to study and elaborate a new paradigm, to find new theories, policies and development models”. Full article here.
  • Governing the Urban Commons (Italian Journal of Public Law, 2015).
    The purpose of this paper is to investigate a fundamental question relating to institutional design in the public sector. After two centuries of Leviathan-like public institutions or Welfare State, do we still need full delegation of every public responsibility and/or exclusive monopoly of the power to manage public affairs? Full article here.
  • La collaborazione civica per l’amministrazione, la governance e l’economia dei beni comuni (L’età della condivisione, 2015).
    “In Italia i beni comuni sono ormai entrati nel lessico quotidiano. Il rischio è che «beni comuni» diventi un’espressione di senso comune, ma priva di effettivo valore semantico e, soprattutto, di rigore scientifico: casella vuota che chiunque si senta legittimato a riempire con qualunque significato”. Full article here.
  • Città e Beni Comuni (L’Italia dei Beni Comuni, 2012).
    “Dove va una persona se vive in una città, non ha la fortuna di possedere un giardino e sente il bisogno di immergersi in un ambiente naturale, usufruire di tutti i servizi che uno spazio verde può fornire come correre, leggere un libro su un prato all’aria aperta, respirare aria mediamente più pulita?”. Full article here.
  • The Tragedy of Urban Roads: Saving Cities from Choking, Calling on Citizens to Combat Climate Change (Fordham Urban Law Journal, 2009).
    This article argues that the best response to the tragedy of road congestion has to rely on market-based regulatory techniques and public policies aimed at controlling the demand-side of transportation congestion.
    Full article here.
  • Local Public Entrepreneurship and Judicial Intervention in a Euro-American and Global Perspective (Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 2008). “Local public entrepreneurship encompasses a variety of activities carried out by local governments designed to foster local economic development. This article presents local public entrepreneurship as a windfall of the right to local self-government”. Full article here.

A complete list of his publications is available here.


Recent articles and interviews: