Research Priorities

February 29, 2020 Release  - Priority Research Areas and Submission Dates

2020 RESEARCH GRANT ANNOUNCEMENT - Land Economics Foundation (LEF)

Foundation Overview:
The Land Economics Foundation (LEF) of Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is seeking proposals that advance the field of land economics from qualified individuals, schools, non-profit organizations, and LAI chapters.  LEF is a not-for-profit charitable foundation created in 1965 to administer a grant-making investment fund on behalf of the members of LAI, the global, multidisciplinary honorary society that builds networks, advances knowledge and promotes best practices in the field of land economics.

LAI was founded in 1930 by  Professor Richard T. Ely in the economics department of Northwestern University:   It has, therefore, a fundamental commitment to advancing educational goals for the next generation of leaders in land economics and favorably considers projects that expand teacher and student interest in the fields of public planning and economics at all academic levels: high school, college, university.

LEF also supports related academic areas such as urban history, land use law, sustainable development, construction management, architectural design, and market analysis.  

LEF seeks collaboration (and funding) with non-profit organizations such as the American Real Estate Society (ARES), American Planning Association (APA), Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), Urban Land Institute (ULI), and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The LEF Board of Trustees meets twice per year at the spring and fall LAI Land Economic Weekends (LEW) to consider and approve grant applications. The 2020 deadlines are April 18 and August 28 respectively. LEF typically approves several grant applications each year.  These grants can be utilized for planning projects, academic research, books, conferences, historical archiving, educational initiatives, redevelopment strategies, and public initiatives applying the principles of land economics.   Grantees are expected to provide final reports or “case study” results and are encouraged to seek publication in peer-reviewed journals with credit cited for LEF funding and support.

LEF also requests the final report in a format that can be “linked” on its Funded Research listing on the LEF website. Grantees are often invited to present their completed projects to the LAI and LEF Boards at which time they may be video recorded and posted to the LAI website.

Grant amounts typically range from $5,000 to $20,000, with preference given to projects with multiple funding sources and collaborations that can leverage the LEF grant.  Preference is also given for research and projects which include the participation of a local LAI Chapter – see the list of Chapters on the LAI website:

For guidance regarding projects and research, grant amounts, and grantees please see Funded Research for 2006-2019 projects on the LAI website:

Proposals may be submitted on-line at any time at:

Videos of recent grantee research presentations are available on the LAI Keynotes website:

2020 Priority Research Areas:

The LEF Board is currently focused on these key priority subject areas to guide its grant review process, although innovative research and projects in land economics on other topics and subject areas will also be eligible for funding and will be fully considered.

Revitalization of Urban and Suburban Corridors and Rural Areas
LEF believes that the study of declining or challenged areas can lead to policies and programs for revitalization; subsequently it is interested in funding activities and research that:

  • Increases understanding of the causal forces in declining corridors or areas and policies and programs targeted at reversing decline and encouraging growth.
  • Provides a focus on changing areas and/or subareas illustrating innovative best practices.

Changing Work Patterns and their Impact on Workplaces
Many technology advances and new organization of work are affecting the buildings and places where work happens. For example, the emergence of shared working – We Work, etc., -  is becoming a major factor and driver in urban office markets.  LEF is interested in research that:

  • Documents the extent and impacts of shared work and technology on the office sector.
  • Explores the impact of shared work environments on office design and utilization.
  • Reviews the lifestyle, demographic and other factors driving this type of development.

The International Economy and Its Impact on Cities and Industrial Development
LEF has seen the major role of international trade and intermodal shipping in industrial development including the growth of fulfillment centers. LEF is interested in research that:

  • Provides understanding of the trade flows and the ports and cities impacted.
  • Helps communities plan for and accommodate intermodal and distribution growth.
  • Examines technology and consumer impacts on industrial land use and development.

The Technology Driven Economy and How it is Shaping Urban Development
LEF recognizes the growth of urban ride-sharing and on-line package delivery, as well as new technologies such as autonomous driving and electric vehicles.  LEF seeks research that:

  • Measures changes in traffic and congestion and public policies to influence them.
  • Explores changes in car ownership/use and impacts on parking demand and ratios.
  • Analyzes impacts on public transportation ridership and appropriate transit responses.
  • Illuminates possible public role in charging stations and supportive EV infrastructure.

We Welcome Your Interest and Support

We welcome your interest in the work of the Land Economics Foundation.  Our grants are supported by a voluntary annual $50 contribution from members – we encourage all LAI members to donate.  Grants, bequests, and sponsorships from individuals, foundations and firms are also sought to support this important work.   All U.S.A. donations are tax deductible.  

Please direct your questions related to the LEF grant process and purposes to:
Jon B. DeVries, AICP, MLAI
Vice-President of Research
Land Economics Foundation of Lambda Alpha International or 312-919-2969