Sheila R. Foster is the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Urban Law and Policy at Georgetown University. She holds a joint appointment with the Law Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she is serving as the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Law Center. 


Foster is a recognized authority on the role of cities and city leadership in promoting social and economic welfare, achieving environmental and climate justice, improving global governance, and addressing racial inequality. From 2017-2020, she served as the chair of the advisory committee for the Global Parliament of Mayors and is currently a member of the New York City Mayor's Panel on Climate Change (serving as co-chair of the Equity Workgroup).

Foster also co-directs LabGov, an international applied research project that has pioneered a new model of urban governance and a path toward more equitable management of a city's infrastructure and services. This approach is set forth in her forthcoming MIT Press book, Co-Cities: Innovative Transitions Toward Just and Self-Sustaining Communities (with C. Iaione).  

Professor Foster is a Founding Editor of SLoGLaw Blog, dedicated to developments in state and local government law.

Foster's influential scholarship is published in top law journals like Yale, Berkeley, Harvard, Notre Dame and in books by NYU Press, MIT press, Cambridge University Press, and Oxford University Press. 

In addition to Georgetown, Foster has taught at a number of major U.S. and international universities including University of California at Berkeley, Rutgers University, Fordham University, Imperial College London, Karl-Franzens University School of Law (Graz), University of Paris X (Nanterre), Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa), Luiss Guido Carli University (Rome), GIMPA University (Accra), and the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law (Lausanne)



Professor Foster’s work focuses on the intersection of law, policy and governance with a specific focus on urban communities and cities. She is one of the leading scholars on environmental and climate justice, most recently recognized by the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law’s 2018 Senior Scholarship Award. Her work analyzes urban governance and the right to the city through the lens of the “commons” as most comprehensively examined in her forthcoming MIT Press Book, Co-Cities ( with Christian Iaione). Her work also focuses on the role of cities in international law and global governance and is exemplified by her forthcoming work City Networks and the Glocalization of Urban Governance in The Elgar Research Handbook of International Law and Cities (Janne Nijman and Helmut Aust, eds.) (with Chrystie Swiney)

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LabGov is an international network of theoretical, empirical, and applied research teams engaged in exploring and developing methods, policies, and projects that enable city residents to co-create and steward land, digital, and other resources in their communities.

LabGov conceptualizes the city as a “commons,” or a shared resource, in order to help reclaim for city inhabitants more power in shaping urban space, in deciding how cities should grow and develop, and as a means of promoting greater access to urban resources and goods by a broader class of city inhabitants. 



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November 7, 2021

Sheila Foster establishes new blog with top legal scholars to highlight the important role of state and local government actions across a range of legal and policy areas. Recent events have underscored how much responsibility falls to states and local governments and how consequential their actions can be. A vision of this blog is that we can no longer afford to ignore state and local government law, if we ever could. States and federalism provide a second structural fulcrum designed to reinforce the separation of powers. State “laboratories of democracy” are also where, in 2018, 83.8 million legal cases were filed compared to some 370,000 in the federal trial courts (civil plus criminal). And American cities are where over 80% of us live. There are 335 US cities with populations between 100,000 and one million, in addition to 14 with populations over a million. Those places produce an overwhelming percentage of the US GDP. These are the layers of government with the greatest impact on our daily lives.