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U of T researchers develop an app to track the environmental health of neighbourhoods

“Good Score” is an app developed by researchers at the University of Toronto that will allow users to learn more about air quality, greenery, walkability and other factors that contribute to the overall environmental health of neighbourhoods. Click here to read more

Being smart about smart cities: U of T's Mariana Valverde explores the possibilities and pitfalls 

Mariana Valverde, a professor emerita at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science, explores the possibilities and shortcomings of smart cities. Smart cities integrate hardware, software, cameras, and sensing technology to enable mass data collection to optimize city services, while additionally assisting in urban planning and municipal decision making, Valverde discusses the issues that come along with smart cities. Click here to read more

UofT’s School of Cities and United Way Greater Toronto partner to rebuild equitable, inclusive cities in Leading Social Justice Fellowship program

U of T’s School of Cities and United Way Greater Toronto have partnered to offer a new leadership development initiative. The partnership integrates United Way’s strong networks with U of T’s School of Cities interdisciplinary approach to urban research, education and engagement. The Social Justice Fellowship will allow individuals from public, private and community sectors to work in teams to apply intersectional, equity and anti-racism lenses to social justice challenges that their partnered organizations and communities have identified. 
Click here to learn more

This Is Us 

USP Alumna Melissa Vincent’s recent article for highlights how Grenada's Olympic championships have helped define the country on the global stage. Click here to read more

Bousfields Inc. USP Visit

Professor Aditi Mehta invited a panel of public and private sector urban planners from Bousfields Inc. to speak to her undergraduate class INI236 about urban planning career paths, current work & the building of cities and communities. Click here to read more

February 2021 Monthly Profile Feature:

Professor Carolyn Whitzman

The Urban Studies Program would like to welcome Professor Carolyn Whitzman, sessional instructor for INI337: Studies in Contemporary Urban Problems: Housing and Homelessness. Keep reading to learn more about Professor Whitzman!
Q: Tell us about yourself!
A: I am now on my third career. After receiving my MA in Geography at University of Toronto in 1988, I worked as a policy planner at the City of Toronto for 10 years. My work on integrated planning to prevent violence helped spark initiatives all over the world, including a UN Safer Cities for Women and Girls Program.
In my second career, I got a PhD and eventually became a Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne in Australia. I have authored or co-authored four books and edited two others, and have written or co-written almost 100 articles and book chapters on various aspects of ‘the right to the city’. I have undertaken research on child-friendly cities, access for people with disabilities, and healthy communities. More recently, I have been focused on developing community-research partnerships to improve affordable housing outcomes.
In 2019, I returned to Canada after 16 years overseas. I now work as a housing and social policy consultant based in Ottawa.
I have been sessional teaching at University of Toronto since the first semester of my master’s degree, in 1986. It is great to return to a place where I might be teaching the children of my original students!
Q:  What is your story behind your research in urban planning?
As the daughter of a real estate agent and single mother who lived in a succession of rental apartments in Montreal when I was growing up, I have always been interested in the dynamics of ‘a good place to live’. When I was an undergraduate student and living away from home for the first time, I was part of a community group fighting for a non-profit coop instead of a condominium in the ‘student ghetto’ (as it then was) of Montreal. We won our fight for Devonshire Co-op and I realized that urban planning could transform people’s opportunities. Later, I worked with a group called Women Plan Toronto, where I was able to integrate my lifelong interest in feminist politics with planning advocacy.
My PhD, later published as a book, was on how housing policies ignored the realities of people’s needs over the 125-year history of Parkdale, a neighbourhood in west-central Toronto. My most recent book is about the life of Clara Ford, a Black tailor who was tried in 1895 for the murder of her landlord’s son, a rich young man named Frank Westwood, in Parkdale. Clara’s lifelong battles with police and social services have a lot of similarities to current day experiences of lower income and racialized women.
My research is greatly informed by story-telling traditions and community-based research. I ask residents, policy-makers and housing providers to tell me stories about their work and I always try to make my research relevant to change-makers.

Q: How has your research influenced your teachings in INI337?
I have the pleasure and privilege of taking over an inspiring course from Dr. Emily Paradis. I have changed it very little! The way both of us like to teach housing and homelessness is to immerse students in current local policy debates. So students first create a Housing CV (just like I started to do in my answer to question 2), and then they observe a City Council debate related to housing. After that, they develop a deputation on a housing issue that they present to real politicians and finally, create a future vision. It the closest I can get to ‘learning by doing’. At the University of Melbourne, I used to run housing studios with planning and architecture students where we helped create designs and policies that would improve affordability and quality of housing in a specific development.
Q: As the author of five books centred around the ‘right to the city’ how do you see your research evolving in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic that is greatly altering cities?
A: Thanks for asking! I have just completed some research based at UBC on global housing policy responses to COVID-19. You can find the summary of our research here.
I have also contributed a book chapter, “How Do You Self-Isolate Without Somewhere to Live? Post-Covid Housing Futures,” in Kirley, E. & Porter, D. (Eds.), Outsmarting the Next Pandemic: Defining Moments in the Time of COVID-19 (Routledge – should be out this year – but no link yet).
The bottom line is that I hope this will be an opportunity to build back better; that we as a society have gotten shocked out of our complacency about housing and health systems that could not cope with the global threat of a pandemic (let alone the continuing threat of global climate change).


USP Summer Course Offerings

View the Arts and Science Summer 2021 Timetable Here

INI337H1-S  Studies in Contemporary Urban Problems (Course Topic TBD)

This course will focus on an examination of the immediate difficulties facing Toronto and by extension all Canadian cities. Instruction will consist of a combination of lectures by the instructor and by noted experts/practitioners in a range of topic areas including urban governance, finance, planning, environmental sustainability and social welfare.

INI338H1-S  Advanced Topics in Urban Studies I (Course Topic TBD)

This course will expose students to a range of contemporary theoretical, analytical, and policy oriented debates in Urban Studies. The emphasis will be on establishing a broad knowledge base in the multifaceted field of urban studies. The exact topics to be covered will fall broadly under the banner of urban socioeconomic change, and specific syllabi, year to year, will follow contemporary and emerging debates. This will be expanded upon in this course’s 400 level counterpart.

INI430H1-F  Youth, Arts, & Engagement in Cities

This course is a collaboration with the organization Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre, a not-for-profit organization that was established to counter negative stereotypes about the Regent Park community. Together, University of Toronto students and Regent Park Focus youth members will learn about media projects initiated by young people across the world, and how these creative forms of communication, organizing, and expression spurred change and social movements in their respective communities. U of T students and Regent Park Focus youth will work together to create their own media project about the neighbourhood.

INI432H1-F  Urban Studio: Public Participation in Policy Making

This course will provide a broad overview of the roles of both the citizen and the professional practitioner in advancing effective and meaningful public participation in the policy-making process, particularly as it relates to city planning. Through an examination of a mix of theoretical frameworks and case studies from Toronto and elsewhere, you will gain an understanding of the ways in which effective public participation can contribute to the maintenance of a healthy democratic society while also exploring some of the key challenges and opportunities faced by public participation practitioners today. The course has two key objectives: to give you a practical understanding of all of the elements of an effective public participation process, and to explore how public participation processes can be designed to be more inclusive and effective. In addition, students will be able to apply this knowledge towards the development of a project or report for a client. You can read more about the course and examples of previous community engagement projects on the U of T News article regarding Rail Deck Park. (Prerequisites will be waived for Summer 2021; students from associated disciplines are encouraged to enrol).

Waterfront Toronto: A New River Innovation Challenge

Waterfront Toronto is in the process of building a new mouth for the Don River. The project is known as the Port Lands Flood Protection Project. The project will protect 240 hectares of downtown Toronto from flooding, in addition to restoring ecological areas that will support wildlife conservation. With this new $1.25 billion project, Waterfront Toronto has been working to determine the best way to collect, interpret and share the environmental data from these new ecosystems, in order to educate visitors and promote environmental conservation. Click here to learn more

School of Cities Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project (MUCP) Information Session

The Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project (MUCP) is a full academic year capstone design course offered by the University of Toronto. The projects are in collaboration with cities, community groups and non-governmental organizations. Students will be assigned to a team of fourth-year undergraduates from a variety of disciplines. The current participating departments and faculties include the Urban Studies Program at Innis College, the Department of Geography and Planning, Rotman School of Management, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture and the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. 

The information session will be held on March 22, 2021 from 10 AM to 11 AM (EST). Click here to learn more and here to view past projects

Gaining Experience in Environment, Geography & Urban Studies Programs 

Join ENSU, TUGS, and URSSU for a fun, interactive program information session of the Department of Geography and Planning, the Urban Studies Department, and the School of the Environment. Focussed on experiential learning, our panel of students and faculty will offer an overview of the various programs and experiences your department has to offer, as well as tips and tricks to get involved during your time at UofT. You will have the chance to get first-hand knowledge about what YOU want to know about your program! Learn more about your student groups and other events they have planned and even get the chance to win a gift card! Click here to RSVP

PlanUofT Social

Take a break from midterms and come join us for our first social on March 12th starting at 8 PM! We will be playing urban planning-themed Sketchful.
The event will be held via Gathertown, a fun and interactive group video platform. Make sure to RSVP on our Facebook event, linked in bio. See you there. Click here to RSVP

PlanUofT is a new student-led organization at the University of Toronto founded by a team of Urban Studies and Geography and Planning students. Plan UofT is dedicated to connecting students who are interested in urban planning careers. PlanUofT provides networking opportunities to connect aspiring student planners with urban planning professionals along with building an urban planning-focused student community.  Follow PlanUofT on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @PlanUofT. 

Planning Futures? On Decolonial, Postcolonial, and Abolitionist Planning

This one-day conference on March 12 starting from 9:30 AM, features leading planning and urban scholars who are re-thinking the field of urban planning and policy from postcolonial, decolonial, and abolitionist perspectives. It asks the following two interrelated questions: What are the futures of the field of urban planning, and what futures we ought to plan for when the future that is imagined in most of the world is one of state violence, dispossession, exploitation, war and conflict, pandemics, and climate change? Click here to RSVP

Taking Flight: The Role of Airports in Thriving City Regions

Toronto Pearson International Airport is a hub for mobility, good movement, and employment in the Greater Toronto Area. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the role that airports play in ensuring thriving urban regions. On March 10, Jean-Paul Auddie, Assistant Professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies will explore the implications of COVID-19 on airports such as Pearson, along with a panel discussion. Click here to register

School of Cities: Global Urban Network Seminar 2: Building Sustainable Cities at the Neighbourhood Scale 

School of Cities is hosting their second Global Urban Network Seminar on March 22, 2021, from 9 AM to 10 Am (EST). The seminar will discuss how the actions and impacts of neighborhoods reveal insights about achieving urban sustainability on a global scale. The seminar will also inquire into how global scholars quantify and target sustainability by focusing on the neighborhood scale. The speakers include Professor Marten Hajer, Urban Futures Studio, Utrecht University, Professor Mee Kam Ng, Institute for Future Cities, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Professor Luis Bettencourt, Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago. The speakers will discuss new planning concepts emerging from Europe that promote neighborhood-focused urbanism to reduce low-density urban sprawl, the key elements in China’s response to the imperatives of sustainable development during COVID-19, and the data-driven processes that help accelerate sustainable urban development in regions that are growing rapidly. Click here to learn more 

Urbanism and the  Arab Revolutions

2021 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Arab Spring, the anti-government protests that began in Tunisia and spread across much of the Arab world. The intersections speakers series at the Department of Geography and Planning is happy to host an Arab Urbanism event reflecting on the urban transformation of Arab cities following revolutionary movements. Arab Urbanism editors, Deen Sharp and Dena Qaddumi will be presenting their work on the topic (see details below) and Kanishka Goonewardena will be their discussant. 
Please join us for this online event on Friday the 12th of March at noon (EST).  Click here to RSVP

Pipelines, Politics and Power

On March 18, Tzeporah Berman (BA '92 Innis) delivers the 2021 Innis Alumni Lecture. An internationally renowned environmental advocate and chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, Berman will speak on "Pipelines, politics, and power: the future of fossil fuels in a world on fire." Click here to RSVP

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Copyright © 2021 University of Toronto,
Urban Studies Program

Room 223E, Innis College, University of Toronto
2 Sussex Ave, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5
Prepared by Caroline Tam, Urban Studies Communications Assistant
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Urban Studies Newsletter · 2 Sussex Avenue · Toronto, ON M5S 1J5 · Canada

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