Professor Julian Juergensmeyer reflects on more than 55 years of teaching, research and trying to make urban centers more equitable.
Georgia State College of Law professor Julian Juergensmeyer, who served as director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth, retired last fall. Juergensmeyer, who is from Kentucky, taught at the College of Law for 21 years and at the University of Florida for 30 years. He started his career teaching property law and practicing land development law when it was a budding field.
He came to Atlanta during a time of significant change for Georgia State University and for the state of Georgia. Governor Roy Barnes was setting up a growth management program for the state, and he saw then College of Law dean Janice Griffith’s scholarship in local government law as parallel to his own expertise in land use control law. Juergensmeyer recalls that during that time, “being in Atlanta was like a scientist living in their laboratory.”
Now, after more than two decades of teaching Land Use as well as co-founding the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth and the Urban Fellows program and expanding the Study Space workshop, Juergensmeyer is ready for a new chapter. However, he has no plans to slow down with two books in the works and a new appointment as a founding faculty member for the LL.M. program at the law school of Northern Cyprus. Here, he reflects on his time at the College of Law and the future of land use law.
What impact do you hope your scholarship has had on the field?
The writing was on the wall that the world was urbanizing. Now, over half of the world’s people live in urban areas. The part that interests me the most is urban development, so if I’ve made any contribution, it’s to fairly allocating the resources for development. I have concentrated on infrastructure funding, specifically developer funding of infrastructure.
What is your fondest memory of your time at the College of Law?
Most of them revolve around the center and the work we’ve done with Study Space. I started the International Perspectives courses where we bring in a foreign professor to teach for two or three weeks at a time semester. We try to translate that to the Urban Fellows program. The other thing that has been rewarding has been our Journal of Comparative Urban Law & Policy.
What has been your most memorable Study Space experience?
They’ve all been so different, I’m not sure if I can single one out. As far as the most unique, the one in Istanbul was our very first one and I had never been to Turkey before. I never had been in Asia and we went to Singapore. Then, I think of South Africa. I had been there before, but it was exciting to see South Africa today versus during apartheid.
Thinking about contemporary issues, what is the intersection between COVID-19 and Land Use Law?
What it’s showing us, although I think we already knew–we just didn’t know how serious it was– is that our cities are poorly designed to deal with any disaster, whether it’s a pandemic, temperature rise, sea level rise, or other natural disasters. In Europe, it’s being looked at as the 15-minute city, the idea being that you should be able to walk or bike to recreation, work, groceries, healthcare, etcetera in 15 minutes. We have to reconfigure our cities so that we have communities that are self-sustained within urban areas, and that would make it easier to handle the virus.
What are your retirement plans?
My wife and I plan to relocate to Amelia Island, Florida to retire. We’ve had a place there for almost 30 years. I hope to spend a lot more time in Poland because my wife lives in Poland and she teaches law there; we met at the University of Florida. I also hope to spend time in southern France and grow lavender.
Interview by Kelundra Smith