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From the President

H. James Brown, July 1, 2002

The richness and multidimensional nature of the Lincoln Institute’s educational program is well demonstrated by the seminars, courses and lectures offered at Lincoln House recently. We are proud that the Institute is playing a significant role in helping scholars and practitioners from throughout the United States and around the world to clarify the issues and their own positions on complex land and tax policies.

In late May, Armando Carbonell, cochairman of the Institute’s Department of Planning and Development, and Harvey Jacobs, professor of planning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assembled a group of leading scholars to discuss the changing nature of property rights in the twenty-first century. This topic has taken a prominent place in local debates around the U.S., and the Supreme Court is regularly asked to review property rights cases. Property rights and land tenure issues are also increasingly important in many contexts around the world. In rapidly growing cities in developing countries, for example, new calls for constitutional changes seek to ensure rights for the poor.

In another arena, the Institute continues to provide training for journalists who cover land use and property tax issues. We are all aware of the significant role that journalists play in informing the public on a variety of topics, yet most journalists are by training generalists rather than specialists. Our programs are designed to provide valuable background material and resources on land use and taxation issues to inform their work. Following the seminar on property rights, Carbonell and Jacobs reviewed the key themes of that debate with an invited group of 28 journalists who spent two days at Lincoln House. This course also included presentations by Joan Youngman, chairman of the Institute’s Department of Valuation and Taxation, and Bob Schwab, an economist at the University of Maryland, on the interplay between property taxation and school finance. Rosalind Greenstein, cochairman of the Institute’s Department of Planning and Development, and John Landis, professor of planning at the University of California, Berkeley, detailed the policy concerns related to sprawling patterns of development in California and other regions.

Training practitioners continues to be another major focus of our courses and seminars. We regularly provide training for transportation planners, state and regional planning officials, community development corporation directors, and professionals in urban universities who are responsible for real estate and community development. Martim Smolka, director of the Institute’s Latin America Program, brought 23 policy makers and academics from 12 Latin America countries to examine the opportunities and pitfalls of large-scale urban developments. Finally, as part of our Lincoln Lecture Series, Anthony Vickers, the former president of the Henry George Foundation of Great Britain, presented a talk on the prospects for land value taxation in Great Britain.

Lincoln House is a busy place. We believe we are making a difference in many different ways—training a broad cross-section of scholars, educators, journalists and practitioners in land and tax policy, and providing a forum for public debate. We look forward to the new academic year that begins in July, and hope you will find a way to share this experience with us.