A new article just posted to SSRN examines Best Practices in the field of land use law. The article, “Practically Grounded: Convergence of Land Use Pedagogy and Best Practices” is forthcoming in the Journal of Legal Education. (One can downloand at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1540713).
The authors (my colleague Dean Patricia Salkin from Albany Law School and Professor John Nolon from Pace Law School) are among the most prolific land use law scholars in the nation. I am delighted that their current scholarship venture will add to the growing body of literature on Best Practices as it offers unique perspectives and ideas that we can all learn from. Even though I have no experience in, nor have ever taught, land use law, I found the article contained lots of little gems and good ideas for those of us who teach in other subject areas or who are collaborating with colleagues on Best Practices initiatives.
Salkin and Nolon’s article begins with an examination of the changing dynamics in the field of land use and sustainable community development law, explaining how this provides a unique opportunity to rethink the way in which faculty prepare law students to practice law in this area. The authors explain how this paradigm shift converges with the growing momentum of the Best Practices movement, and observes that a “perfect storm” is present and a unique opportunity exists through the application of many “Best Practices” concepts for land use law faculty to lead the academy in reinventing curriculum and teaching strategies to better prepare students for the practice of law.
The article also reviews the history of the Best Practices movement, and makes the case as to why land use should be the “poster child” for best practices. This is followed by a discussion of an empirical survey conducted by the authors in 2008 of land use law professors that examined, among other things, the opportunities to apply Best Practices to the subject of land use law. The article offers innovative examples of teaching methods that can be effectively utilized within the confines of the traditional classroom, using the land use law course as a model, as well as an example of how the land use law course can be used across the curriculum as a Best Practices capstone experience.
Again using the content of the land use course, the article concludes with the observation that the traditional approach to teaching can be converted into exciting opportunities that engage student learners, stretch the limits of student creativity, instill a sense of professionalism, and, consistent with the findings and recommendations of the Best Practices Report, prepare students to be more effective attorneys.
The authors welcome and invite discussion of their article here among those of us interested in exploring Best Practices.
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