Organization’s History

Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary, non-political, not-for-profit professional organization. The name of our society Lambda Alpha represents two Greek words logos agroikos meaning “learning of land” that is, the science of land utilization.  LAI was established at Northwestern University in Illinois in 1930.  The inspiration of the organization was Professor Richard T. Ely, often referred to as the “Father of Land Economics.” Professor Ely taught land economics at Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin, and he was the first honorary member of Lambda Alpha.  Its purposes included the encouragement of the study of land economics in universities; the promotion of a closer affiliation between its members and the professional world of land economics; and the furtherance of the highest ideals of scholarship and honesty in business and the universities.  More info here

Baltimore Chapter LAI Presentation 2021

Richard Ely & Baltimore

Ely was a professor and head of the Department of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland from 1881 to 1892. Keynotes about Richard Ely and Baltimore

Purpose & Mission

The purpose and mission of LAI is to advance the study and practice of land economics—the practice of designing, developing, valuing, and husbanding the use and maintenance of real property as a social good. As an honorary organization established to recognize and facilitate interaction among the leaders in all professions contributing to land economics, LAI strives to encourage shared knowledge among its members and to encourage them to create, support, and participate in educational and training activities aimed at promulgating sound land economic practices. LAI seeks to foster highly ethical practices and encourage learning and exchange among its members through meetings, discussions, social interaction, and community activities organized at a local Chapter level and through international meetings and events.
LAI provides opportunities for members to propose and test ideas in an atmosphere of support and honest dialogue. Hewing to the principles taught by Richard T. Ely, it is a place for the “winnowing and sifting of ideas” where diversity of opinion is welcomed. To achieve this goal, it provides a forum with access to key decision makers, as well as a chance to share ideas among the constituent professions of its members. LAI takes a wide view of its relationship to land—a wider view than any of LAI’s  constituent professions.

 LAI exists as a vehicle to aid in the development and sharing of the principles and practice of land economics among its members. It provides a forum for the transfer and debate of land economic principles, concepts, and projects among the variety of professions that constitute the practice of land economics such as architects, city planners, developers, appraisers, attorneys, engineers, and other real estate professionals and government officials. Its meetings, events, and publications provide a platform to facilitate such discussions,encourage learning and personal contact, and honor the significant contributions of relevant professionals.The interaction between members facilitates cross-pollination of ideas enabling real learning related to developing land use practices encouraging the long-term viability and productivity of land resources.

LAI does not advocate for one land use policy over another; rather, it is a forum for discussing land use, expanding its knowledge of land use policies, all in the best service of mankind and of the environment. Drawing on its academic roots, LAI seeks to expand knowledge of wise land use practices in schools and universities, as well as to the general public. LAI members have expertise in these matters and a civic obligation to share that knowledge

Chapters Worldwide

LAI is a selective, networked international association for distinguished professionals in all fields related to the use and development of land. LAI is committed to promoting best practices and making a difference in our communities. The 2,200-plus members of LAI make valuable connections locally and with peers worldwide. LAI has a network of 29 Chapters in North America, Europe, and the Asia that offer a variety of programs with top speakers, relevant forums, and events where members engage in discussion and debate about land use, economic, and business issues that matter on a local level.

LAI Land Economics Weekends

Since 2000, Lambda Alpha International has hosted Land Economics Weekends in chapter cities each spring and fall.  The twice-yearly Land Economics Weekends provide opportunities for members to broaden their perspectives and meet face to face with other top professionals from around the world, while getting behind the scenes access to projects in some of the world’s most interesting cities.  From 2023,  LAI is moving towards hosting only one Land Economic Weekend per year. You can track those meetings at

Land Economics Foundation

LEF is a not-for-profit charitable foundation organized to administer an investment fund which provides grants for research projects related to land economics. Over the past three years LEF has committed capital (5% of assets) to a number of significant and worthwhile endeavors across the country on a matching basis with other non-profit entities.

Need LAI Assistance?  Please contact:

Sheila Hamilton
Executive Director
Lambda Alpha International
PO Box 72720
Phoenix, AZ  85050
[email protected]