LAWS3115/JURD7515 People, Land and Community

Lecturer: Cathy Sherry

What is this course about?

The course is about lots of interesting issues that arise as a result of private ownership of land. For example, we use private land ownership as the default allocator for schools. Is that a good rule? Should kids go to their local school or should we implement ‘school choice theory’ and allow parents to ‘shop’ between private schools, selective schools or ordinary public schools out of their area? What produces better educational outcomes? Another topic we cover is private residential communities and to what extent private citizens should be able to create their own societies through private property law. Should people be able to buy large parcels of land and implement entry rules that require everyone to be a particular religion or subscribe to particular environmental ethics? Should private communities be able to decide whether residents can have pets or solar power? What kind of society do these rules create? Finally, we learn about how private property ownership has shaped our cities into high density inner cores, low density suburbs and rural fringes. What are the implications of these divisions? For example, is it a risk that we only grow food outside cities and should we be learning to do so inside the urban core? We do a walking tour of Sydney CBD, and in s2 2018, there will be a special study of New York, taught by Martin Gold, Adjunct Professor, Columbia Law School and long-time real estate partner at New York law firm Sidley Austin LLP. This section will focus on public-private partnerships in redevelopments of NYC.

Do you have any advice to give to students who are interested in taking this course?

Students taking this course should be prepared to think about legal detail and the big picture.

How will this course be relevant in the future?

One of the greatest challenges of the future will be how to fit huge numbers of people into our existing cities so that they live happy and healthy lives. Pressures of population and space create problems for transport, energy, housing, employment, infrastructure, food security etc, and the up-coming generation of lawyers are going to need to solve the legal challenges that flow from these issues. Many of those challenges will relate to private ownership of land. Good lawyers will be those who understand the complexities of the wider landscape in which their legal practice operates.