The City as Classroom

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Law professor Jonathan Rosenbloom challenges his students—and himself—to push boundaries.

Jonathan Rosenbloom brought his expertise in sustainability, environmental law, state and local government, and property law to Drake Law School in 2010. Just two years later he was named Leland Forrest Outstanding Professor of the Year by his students.

Rosenbloom, who serves on several community boards working on sustainability issues, is passionate in his belief that law has the potential to have a positive impact on the economic and environmental challenges facing the world today. He shares this belief in the classroom and in his personal and professional life.

As a professor I try to make clear that there are great inequities in the world. Many of these inequities are created or exacerbated by the law, but they may also be remedied by the law. I want students to understand that the legal framework we have right here, right now, is only one way in which we can structure society. My hope is that students learn to evaluate and question current legal parameters and push the boundaries to improve the law to benefit more people.

In the classroom I like to … open it up. I believe an enormous amount can be gained by opening the classroom to the community. It is a classic win-win. The students receive a unique “real life” professional and educational experience in which they work on concrete issues facing our community. Both the University and central Iowa benefit from the energy, research, and enthusiasm of our dedicated students. There is great untapped potential in making connections between the way we educate students and the development of lawyers working in the real world.

My students are often fortunate to have been raised with a Midwestern work ethic. I have great respect for their focus and diligence—particularly the first-year law students. They are thrown into a new and, in many cases, completely foreign world. In these stressful environments their character and work ethic rises to the surface. Their burgeoning passion to understand the law and how it works is infectious. With every new class, I am challenged in new ways, rethinking law and my relationship to it as an educator.

Outside of Drake I work in the community regarding my biggest interest—local sustainability. I’m lucky to serve on a few boards of some great organizations doing wonderful things for our community and the environment. I think it’s important to keep a fresh perspective and use my experience and skills where they are needed. Above all else, I love traveling the world and exploring new and different cultures with my wife and twin daughters.

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