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Cities Unmasked Podcast

School of Cities Student Academy members,  Lubna Alli, Muhammad Ali Sajid, Thomas Elias Siddal, along with USP students Victoria McCutcheon and Brittanny Livingston ('20) have started an 11-episode podcast series that explores how COVID-19 has impacted and highlighted urban inequality. Click here to learn more

Spacing Magazine's December Issue Featuring Two USP Alumni

Support local journalism and Urban Studies alumni, Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie and Lena Sanz Tovar by purchasing Spacing Magazine's December Issue. Their featured piece discusses the Regent Park Social Development Plan. Click here to read more 

Urban Studies Course Forges Bond Between Students and Seniors During COVID-19 

USP professor Aditi Mehta paired students with seniors virtually for her qualitative methods course, INI342H1. The opportunity allowed students to forge valuable community friendships with seniors during COVID-19. Click here to read more. Click here to read more

Forget Sidewalk Labs, Quayside Plans Promise Iconic Architecture and Affordable Housing 

Shauna Brail, former USP director and Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, and current associate professor with the Institute for Management and Innovation at the University of Toronto, believes the Quayside site should be about affordable housing. Click here to read more 


U of T training and research program to focus on green roofs, other ‘living’ infrastructure 

The Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory (GRIT Lab) at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design launched the new Design of Living Infrastructure for Ecosystem Services (DLIFES) Network. With governments and private property owners globally shifting to living infrastructure investments to address environmental degradation, pollution and climate change, the program presents an opportunity for graduate students to engage with regional urban policy and industry practices. Click here to read more

Yonge Street’s New Mission

John Lorinc questions #yongeTOmorrow, a pedestrian- centred design project that the City of Toronto council’s infrastructure and environmental committee will be considering. The design concept is centred on the re-configuring of Yonge Street between College and Queen street to allow for wider sidewalks, street greenery and more street furniture. The recommendation also consists of separated bike lanes between College/Carlton and Gerrard. Click here to read more

The Work of Crisis Framing: Claims of Social Justice Obscuring a History and, Likely Future, of Uneven Investment in Moss Park, Toronto 

Urban Studies alumni Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie, Nikki Mary Pagaling, and Professor David J. Roberts have recently published an article in the Journal of Urban Affairs, exploring the knowledge of productive practices and mobilizations in public discourse in relation to the revitalization of Moss Park.  Click here to read

'Beautifully Designed and Beautifully Built': U of T Unveils New Laneway, Infill Housing

New laneway, infill houses on the St. George campus have been built, designed to animate a quiet alley near Robarts Library. The laneway houses provide a model for future residential development for Toronto. Currently, two student families with children and a faculty member and their family will be the first to move into these modern, eco-friendly houses. Click here to read more

U of T Student Encourages Others To Get Involved in Politics

Renee Jagdeo, a University of Toronto undergraduate student ran in a by-election in Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt, finishing near the middle of the slate of more than two-dozen candidates. Jagdeo advocated for more green and recreational spaces, housing, improvements to public transit, COVID-19 response, community safety and economic development throughout her campaign. Jagdeo hopes that her campaign will encourage other young people to get involved in politics. Click here to read more

USP Student Testimonials

The Urban Studies Program is looking to highlight students' positive experiences to appeal to incoming first-year students who are looking to explore Urban Studies. Share your personal testimonial as an Urban Studies student with us! Your submission could be featured in upcoming promotional materials for the USP. Click here to submit your response

January 2021 Monthly Profile Feature:

Professor Wesley Attewell, PhD

The Urban Studies Program would like to welcome Professor Wesley Attewell, PhD (British Columbia), sessional instructor for INI432H1S: Racial Capitalism, Settler Colonialism, and Urban Infrastructure. Keep reading to learn more about the Urban Studies Program's newest professor! 
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself!

A: As a child of Hong Kong Chinese and British heritage, I grew up in one of Vancouver’s largest – and perhaps most famous – ethnoburbs, Richmond. Like Markham or Richmond Hill in the GTA, Richmond has long been known as one of the main (sub)urban hubs of the GVRD’s Chinese diasporic community. Growing up in this environment has definitely shaped my research and teaching interests throughout my academic career. After completing all three of my degrees in Geography at the University of British Columbia, I then took up a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. More recently, I spent time at New York University as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Asian/Pacific/American Studies. These three cities – Vancouver, Toronto, and New York –have all offered me different vantage points from which to better understand my own relationship to the historical and geographical formation that some scholars have named the “decolonizing Pacific”.

Outside of work, I spend a lot of my free time exploring the cities that I have, at one point or another, called home. I have spent most of my life living in Vancouver, and yet I am constantly finding new places to explore, or restaurants to eat at. When I was in Toronto and New York, I walked everywhere, excited to get a feel for as many different neighbourhoods as possible. Being able to live in the heart of lower Manhattan – even temporarily – was an experience I will never forget. At home, I enjoy cooking and hanging out with my older orange tabby named Cowboy, whose favorite food is lettuce, and may make a few cameos during this semester.

Q: What are your research interests and how do you plan on incorporating them into INI432H1?

A: I work at the intersection of political geography, urban geography, and Asian American studies to map the transnational landscapes of US empire-building from the Cold war into the present. My work exposes how US infrastructures of development and logistics capture movements for decolonization across Asia and the Middle East, steering them instead towards racial capitalist futures. Thus far, my research has focused on the two defining moments of militarized empire-building that have come to define the so-called long American century. My first book, Developing Violence explores how the US has waged counterinsurgency through development in Afghanistan. Since 2017, I have also been researching the transpacific logistics infrastructures and the military-metropolitan complexes that the US assembled to supply its war in Vietnam. Over time, I have come to see Afghanistan and Vietnam not as siloed theatres of empire-building, but rather, as interconnected frontiers of America’s long war against global movements for decolonization. Such connections across space and time are made possible by the everyday, racialized workings of a transnational military-development-industrial complex, which has historically built various urban spaces and landscapes – including logistics cities, model villages, camptowns, and little Americas – as a way of expressing and reproducing its power across the decolonizing world.
We will be learning about and discussing some of these imperial (sub)urbanisms in the first weeks of our seminar.  Here, some examples will include: suburban landscapes in Northern Virginia and Miami; logistics cities in Iraq and the Philippines; camptowns in South Korea and Okinawa; and military-metropolitan complexes in Saigon and Seattle. But we will also reflect on the ways in which these imperial (sub)urbanisms continue to haunt city life across Turtle Island in other, less obvious ways. These range from broken-windows policing to gentrification to ongoing settler violence, which are all shaping the racialized inner city, as well as the so-called “new urban reserves”.

Q: What perspectives do you hope students will gain from taking INI432H1? In other words, why should students take your class?

A: By taking INI432H1, I am hoping that my students come away with a clearer sense of how urban spaces, landscapes, and infrastructures have historically served as both a conduit for power and rule, as well as a terrain of struggle and resistance. Here, of course, I am drawing heavy inspiration from the pathbreaking work of my postdoctoral mentor Dr. Deborah Cowen, who is currently faculty in the Department of Geography and Planning at U of T. But I am also keen to loop my students into some of the interdisciplinary conversations that are currently taking place at the intersection of human geography, urban/metropolitan studies, American studies, and critical ethnic studies. At NYU, Metropolitan Studies benefits enormously from its close proximities to and entanglements with other programs in the broader Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, including American Studies, Africana Studies, Latino Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Asian/Pacific/American Studies. It is precisely this explicitly interdisciplinary model of Metropolitan/Urban Studies that I am hoping to bring to INI432H1. My aim here will be to foreground the political stakes of the various topics that we cover in class, thereby opening a space for discussing – and enacting – more anti-racist, decolonial, and abolitionist modes of urban life- and relation-making.

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching in the field of urban studies?

A: My favorite part about teaching in the field of urban studies is being able to ground our discussions and conversations in our shared, everyday experiences of urban life. I am especially excited by the ways in which Urban Studies as a discipline lends itself to certain kinds of field teaching and research. Over time, I have found that getting out into the city is an effective way of learning about urban geographies, processes, and forces. This more experiential approach is something that I am hoping to incorporate into INI432H1, whether in the form of a photography-based assignment or by encouraging students to attend and participate remotely in community events across the city of Toronto. 

Q: What are you looking forward to the most about this upcoming winter semester?

A: I am very much looking forward to meeting and engaging with the students who have enrolled in INI432H1. My aim here is to open up a supportive and generative space for reflecting on the living histories, material presences, and speculative futures of urban studies during our current moment of crisis and emergency.

2021 Jackman Scholars-in-Residence

Jackman Scholars-in-Residence (SiR) is an intensive, 4-week paid research fellowship in humanities and social science research for upper-year undergraduate students. The SiR opportunity allows students to advance and develop research skills while working with peers, professors and research professionals. The deadline to apply is February 22, 2021. Click here to learn more

Students for Shelters Magazine Submissions

Students for Shelters is calling for submission for it’s online magazine. Academic, creative and informal submissions from undergraduate students and recent alumni will be accepted. Submissions related to homelessness, poverty/ poverty alleviation, reviews of race, marginalization, gender and sexuality, disability, access to essential services, mental health, inequality regarding COVID-19 in housing opportunities will be considered. The deadline to submit is February 5, 2021, at 11:59 pm. Click here to learn more
Policy in Place: Models for Federal-Provincial-Municipal Collaboration
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of cities as partners in implementing and enforcing national and provincial policies, programs and services. Check out this webinar on February 2, 2021, featuring Neil Bradford, a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Governance, Leadership, and Ethics program at Huron University College at Western. Bradford will address the importance of cities as partners by revisiting Canada’s history of successful tri-level agreements between federal, provincial and municipal governments on issues from homelessness to economic development and infrastructure. Click here to RSVP

Shut Up and Write (Weekly Winter sessions) Innis Edition

Having trouble with finding the time and motivation to write? 
Need a jumpstart to focus on writing for your assignment, screenplay, short story, cover letter, or grant application? Shut Up and Write is a chance for academic and creative writers within the UofT community to write productively in a communal setting. The drop-in sessions will follow the Pomodoro technique where there will be a sequence of short sprints of writing with a few breaks in between.

Bring your work (laptop or paper) and we'll help you with your productivity! 

WHO: Current U of T undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral students are all welcome (faculty and staff too!)

WHEN:  Friday Jan 29, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST 

WHERE: via Bb Collaborate - webinar link will be emailed separately to registrants

HOW: Registration is required.
The sessions will take place every Friday. See the event calendar or future events.

There is no cost for attending. Please sign in 10-15 mins early to ensure a smooth start to the session.

Questions? Email 
Hosted by: Innis College Library

The breakdown for the writing session is as follows (in Eastern Standard Time):

11:45 AM -12 PM: Log in to Bb Collaborate
12:00 PM: Intros & writing goals for the session
12:05 PM: Start writing (30 mins)
12:35 PM: Break! (5 mins)
12:40 PM: Resume writing (30 mins)
1:10 PM: Break! (5 mins)
1:15 PM: Resume writing (30mins)
1:45 PM: Break & social
2:00 PM: End


URSSU Trivia Night

Join the Urban Studies Student Union for a pub trivia night on February 12 at 7 pm on Zoom.  Put your urban and geographic knowledge to the test with a team of like-minded friends and see who comes out on top with the first-place team receiving a mystery prize. Click here to RSVP

URSSU Academic Seminar

Over the last year, the ability to connect, organize, and develop communities in person has been put on hold, but members of urban social movements and organizations haven’t let that stop them. Join URSSU for our winter semester academic seminar focusing on social media’s role in community development in cities. Engage in fulfilling discussions and listen in on how some of Toronto’s most influential organizers have been creating a digital identity of Toronto social activism.

The date is TBA in late Feb/early March (Keep up with URSSU on Social Media to be notified about the event date)
Check out URSSU on Social Media


URSSU Student Discord 

URSSU has created a Discord chat for USP students! Join group channels for all your Urban Studies classes, pop into the virtual Robarts or Gerstein study rooms and come by the virtual Innis Town Hall to hang out with other Urban Studies students. Scan the QR code or Click here to join
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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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