Urban Fellows Program Inspires Graduate Students

Urban Fellows Jill Skinner (J.D./M.C.R.P. ’14), Emily McClendon (J.D. ’15), James E. Flynn (J.D. ’13) and Clint Tankersley (J.D. ’16) accomplished incredible goals this past year in publishing, academia and competition.

Jill Skinner zoning book

  • Jill Skinner (J.D./M.C.R.P. ’14) is a published author for her contribution to Zoning and Land Use Law In Georgia as a research assistant for Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco. The book, also written by Seth G. Weismann and G. Douglas Dillard, is intended to guide decision-making and legislation. “My favorite part of writing this book was seeing how our laws have changed over time to adapt to new challenges such as rapid urbanization and explosive population growth,” Skinner said.
  • Emily McClendon (J.D. ’15) was the 2013-2014 Daniel J. Curtin, Jr. Fellowship for the Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association (APA). One $3,000 fellowship is awarded each year to a student interested in the intersection of law and planning. As part of her fellowship, McClendon chaired the Early Career Committee, developed a mentoring program, planned networking events, assisted the APA in Emily McClendonwebsite development, and assisted in planning for the national APA conference in April. McClendon holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Institute of Technology. “When I graduate from law school, I hope to work at the intersection of planning and land use law.” She is a member of the Urban Fellows Program and a graduate research assistant to Professor Julian Juergensmeyer, Ben F. Johnson Jr. Chair in Law and director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth.
  • James E. Flynn (J.D. ’13) won the eighth annual Constitutional Environmental Law Student Writing Competition in 2013, receiving a $2,000 cash award and the publication of his entry, “The Fraudulent Misrepresentation of Climate Science,” in the Environmental Law Reporter. The competition encourages law students to examine the issues that meet at the intersection of constitutional and environmental law. “Mr. Flynn raises intriguing questions about how to respond to the potential distortion of climate science information under existing and new causes of action, ” says Jay Austin, senior attorney with the Environmental Law Institute.

Left to Right: Clint Tankersley (J.D.'16), David Crass, Rep. John Lewis and Michael Phillips

Left to Right: Clint Tankersley (J.D.’16), David Crass, Rep. John Lewis and Michael Phillips
  • Clint Tankersley (J.D. ’16) won the first national student writing competition for preservation action and presented his research paper, “Expedited Section 106 Review: A Mutually Beneficial Solution,” at a Capitol Hill breakfast during Preservation Action’s Advocacy Scholars Week. In addition to presenting his paper, Tankersley met with legislators and advocates for historic preservation issues. “Each Advocacy Scholar was paired with a mentor from their state.  I was honored to be partnered with David Crass, director of Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division, who taught me the ins and outs of Capitol Hill. It was an incredible opportunity to get hands-on preservation advocacy experience.” An Urban Fellow, Tankersley graduated with the Certificate in Land Use and Environmental Law. He received the Urban Fellows Research Award in 2013 and also worked as a graduate research assistant to Ryan Rowberry, assistant professor of law, helping draft portions of the upcoming publication Historic Preservation Law in a Nutshell. Tankersley’s winning paper has been posted on his cultural heritage law blog, PreserveLaw.com.

Preview of 2014-15 Lecture Series

The Urban Fellows Program will welcome 23 new and 26 returning fellows in 2014-15.  This fall, the Urban Fellows will hear lectures about:

  • Challenges and Opportunities in the Metro Atlanta Region;
  • Georgia State University’s Role in Revitalizing Downtown Atlanta;
  • What Really Happens When a New City is Formed – the City of Brookhaven’s Story; and
  • The City of Atlanta’s Strategic Community Investment Study – Results and Next Steps.

Urban Fellows also will participate in community service, professional development activities, and begin writing on the Center’s new blog.

2013-14 Lecture Series Recap

The Urban Fellows Program, comprised of top graduate students across Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology’s  School of City and Regional Planning, provides an opportunity to learn about urban planning and development issues in metropolitan Atlanta, as well as around the world through a series of lectures and a writing semester culminating in a publishable paper.

The 2013-2014 academic year featured lectures on:

  • Hot Topics in Georgia Education;
  • Heir Property in Georgia;
  • Atlanta’s Public Housing Study;
  • Energy Efficiency in Georgia;
  • Land Use Law and Sexually Oriented Businesses;
  • Updating Zoning Ordinances in the Sweet Auburn Neighborhood; and
  • Housing Vouchers 101.

The Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth also brought three distinguished speakers to campus including:

  • Arthur C. Nelson, the Presidential Professor and Director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, discussed the fate of the housing market when 20.1 million seniors attempt to sell their homes in 15 years.
  • Juan Felipe Pinilla Pineda, a consultant for several governmental organizations in Columbia including the Ministry of Housing and Bogota’s Urban Renewal Project, lectured as an expert on Columbian urban law and land management instruments.
  • Tom Pelham, the former secretary for Florida’s Department of Community Affairs and a current land use professor at Florida State University, examined Florida’s plan for growth management through a history of legislation encouraged by the rapid growth and drought in Florida in the 1970s.
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