Nate Ela

Nate Ela

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor of Political Science and Law; Faculty Affiliate, Dept. of Sociology

Crosley Tower


A&S School of Public and International A - 0375

Professional Summary

I study land use, inequality, and democracy in American cities. I am completing a book on how and why social reformers have pushed for redistribution by making idle land availble for use by people in need. In new work I examine efforts to make voting a duty in U.S. cities, and the links between urban theory and policy projects to make cities more resilient to the climate crisis. You can learn more about my research at


PhD: University of Wisconsin-Madison 2018 (Sociology)

JD: Harvard Law School 2007

BA: Columbia University 2000 (Political Science)

Research and Practice Interests

State and Local Government; Land Use; Social Policy; Property; Urban Politics; Urban Sociology; Environmental Justice

Research Support

Grant: #R40759 Investigators:Ela, Nathan 04-01-2021 -05-01-2022 UC's AHSS Regulating the Resilient City: How Urban Theory Has Shaped Urban Policy Horizons Role:PI $8,791.00 Active Level:Internal UC


Peer Reviewed Publications

Nate Ela. 2020. "The Promise of Property: Legal Optimism and Collective Efficacy in Chicago’s Urban Agriculture District." Social Problems, ,

Nate Ela. 2019. "Use-Based Welfare: Property Experiments in Chicago, 1895-1935." Social Science History, , 43(2): 319-344. ,

Nate Ela. 2017. "Litigation Dilemmas: Lessons from the Marcos Human Rights Class Action." Law & Social Inquiry, , 42(2): 479-508 ,

Other Publications

Nate Ela. 2016. "Urban Commons as Property Experiment: Mapping Chicago’s Farms and Gardens." Fordham Urban Law Journal, 43(2): 247-294 ,

Nate Ela. 2022. "The Duty to Vote in an American City." Forthcoming, Howard Law Journal, 66(1) ,

Nate Ela. 2023. "Property and the Problem of Disuse." Forthcoming, Washington University Law Review, 100 ,

Book Chapter

Nate Ela and Greg Rosenberg. 2017. "Land Tenure for Urban Farming: Toward a Scalable Model." In Good Food, Strong Communities: Promoting Social Justice Through Local and Regional Food Systems, Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey, eds. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press,

Courses Taught

American Courts and Judicial Process (SPIA)

Law and Inequality in the City (SPIA)

Land Use Law and Development (College of Law & DAAP)

Seminar on Law and Capitalism in America (SPIA & College of Law)

Land Use Law and Advocacy in Cincinnati (College of Law & DAAP)

Law, Markets, and Politics in the United States (SPIA)