John Fairfield is an authority on the history of the development of cities and the concept of “public” and served on the planning committee for Xavier’s newest honors program, Philosophy, Politics and the Public. He and Gene Beaupré, director for government relations, teach the sophomores a set of four courses exploring the history, theory and practice of democracy. This year’s theme was eminent domain.
JOHN FAIRFIELD, DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
Why were the sophomores studying eminent domain? In the Legislative Politics course, we look for a current issue that links local, state and national politics. With the nearby Norwood controversy and the 2005 Supreme Court decision on New London, Conn., eminent domain provided the perfect issue.
What has been learned or accomplished on this topic? Our students had to balance their concern with homeowners and small business people against the needs of cities to redevelop and revitalize their cores. The students testified before the Ohio legislature’s task force on eminent domain, urging them to preserve the power of eminent domain for local governments but also recommending greater protections for property owners and greater public scrutiny of redevelopment plans.
How does the program benefit the University? Our annual trip to Washington, D.C., and frequent trips to the state capitol in Columbus or Cincinnati City Council provide a regional and national showcase for some of Xavier’s most accomplished students.
EDUCATION University of Rochester, Ph.D. in history, 1984; Master of Arts in history, 1980; Bachelor of Arts in history, 1978
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Wrote an article on the history of city planning for the Oxford Com-panion to United States History 2001 Edition … A 1993 book, Mysteries of the Great City, examines 19th- and early 20th-century cities.