Prof. Dr. Benjamin Davy
Currently, I'm working on two topics. One is human dignity, transitional justice, and land reform. I am particularly interested in the current debate in South Africa on expropriation without compensation. Since market-oriented land reform did not yield satisfying results, several stakeholders demand that private land be expropriated for purposes of land reform. Since the Apartheid regime took this land from its former owners without compensation, the argument goes, its return does not require compensation of the present owner. The other topic is land use ethics. Based on Aldo Leopold's famous text "A Sand County Almanac", I am considering the moral consequences of thinking like a mountain, like a tree, like a river, like non-human animals. If mountains or trees or cattle were admitted to a Rawlsian constitutional assembly behind the "veil of ignorance", what would the result be? Presently, however, only Amazon and Unilever are admitted ... with horrible results for the environment.
In 2019, I have retired as a professor of land policy, land management, and municipal geoinformation at the School of Spatial Planning, TU Dortmund University (Germany), one of AESOP’s founding member schools. Currently, I am (online) visiting professor to the Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, and (online) visiting professor to the School of Architecture and Spatial Planning, TU Wien University (Austria).
Since 1998, when I attended my first AESOP congress in Aveiro, Portugal, I have been inspired by the intellectual exchange typical of the AESOP community. I owe the AESOP community much of my personal development as planning theorist and educator. Together with Rachelle Alterman and Willem Salet, I co-organized the first of AESOP’s tracks on planning and law during the 1999 annual congress in Bergen, Norway. Since then the law track has grown into one of AESOP’s largest regular congress tracks. In 2007, together with Rachelle Alterman, Leonie Janssen-Jansen, and Willem Salet, I have been one of the co-founders of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights (PLPR), one of AESOP’s most successful spin-offs. I enjoyed mentoring at AESOP PhD workshops in Wien (2005), Manchester (2009), Belfast (2013), Stare Lesna (2015), and Aveiro (2017). From 2006 through 2014, I have been one of two AESOP country representatives from Germany. In 2008 and 2012, I have been involved in two unsuccessful bids by the School of Planning, TU Dortmund University, for hosting an AESOP annual congress. In 2012, I have assisted in organizing a Silver Jubilee Event at TU Dortmund University by delivering a lecture on »Do planners have heroes?« From 2017 through 2021, I have served as Vice President and President of AESOP.