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We have arrived at the end of another challenging and, in some ways unpredictable, academic year shaped in many ways by the continued public health crisis due to COVID-19. Congratulations on making it to this point – and, of course, a special congratulations to those of you that will be graduating this spring.  

That said, this year is not without its highlights. We launched a new course - City Challenges, City Opportunities in a 21st Century Toronto (URB338H1F) – a partnership with the City of Toronto and many of the universities and colleges in Toronto. This course allowed students to hear directly from experts in Toronto municipal government on a range of topics central to both the near and long-term future of the city. This course highlighted both the breadth and depth of the city-building being led by the City. You can read more about this course here:  I am happy to announce that after a successful first year, the City has agreed to continue with this partnership into the future, so we will be able to offer this course this coming year (hopefully with some sessions in City Hall).  

We also saw an expansion of community partners as part of Intro to Urban Geography II (URB236H1S) – an expansion both in the number of students who took up these opportunities as well as the geography of the opportunities themselves – facilitated by a greater normalization of online work. Learning from this, I imagine that we will continue to approach community partnerships in a hybrid fashion moving forward with some options in person and others online as to not limit possible opportunities for students to be involved in city-building beyond Toronto.  

Looking forward, in the short-term, we are offering some exciting courses this summer. Once again, we will be offering URB432H1F Urban Studio: Public Participation in Policy Making. This course, taught by a City of Toronto planner, will allow students to learn about public engagement in the face of COVID. You can read about the course and a past focus here:  Additionally, we will be offering a timely course on Cities and Health – URB337H1S (a course we first offered in 2020 but is as relevant today). Finally, we will be offering a new course URB338H1F – that will explore Food and Society in Global Cities. This course explores the nuanced ways food practices transform global cities worldwide. Analyzing global North and South cities, course themes focus on the politics of street food, food trucks, restaurants, markets, farmers’ markets, food deserts, food assistance programs, urban farming and agriculture, gastronomic gentrification, and food delivery services. All of these courses currently have available spaces.  

Finally, please keep an eye out for the launching of the application processes for: 

  • URB437Y1 – Experiential Learning in Toronto and the GTA (see details later in the newsletter). Students in 437 will gain real world exposure to city building in the GTA through being matched with an 8hr/week placement. The accompanying course will include classes on professional skills as well as key issues facing the City.  

  • URB431Y1 – the Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project. The Multidisciplinary Capstone Project (MUCP) began as an initiative in the School of Cities at the University of Toronto in the 2019-2020 academic year. Beginning this summer, the Urban Studies Program will be the coordinating partner of this project. In this course, students are placed in teams with peers from other academic units and then matched with a community partner to consult on an existing design challenge that the partner has identified. The application – along with information on next year’s projects will be available soon.  

If you have any questions about either of these courses please reach out.  

Have a wonderful and safe summer. And for those of you graduating, keep in touch. I enjoy nothing more than hearing about all of the amazing things that y’all do with your Urban Studies degrees.  

Just five years after graduating from the University of Toronto's Urban Studies Program, writer, editor, producer and strategist Melissa Vincent is making her presence felt in the world of music journalism. Click here to read more. 
Click here to learn more about Igor Samardzic, an urban planner, Urban Studies Program alumni, and a disability advocate who lives with conductive hearing loss, who is trying to shift the perspective of decision-makers when it comes to accessibility.
Humans are constantly re-shaping the environment by building sprawling cities, but a new study demonstrates that urban environments are also altering the way life itself evolves – and it’s happening all around the world. Click here to read more. 
The University of Toronto is in the early stages of exploring how the northwest corner of the St. George campus can be revitalized to provide much-needed and attainable university housing, including academic and amenity space. Click here for more information 

Khulan Enkhbold

The Urban Studies Program's Communications and
Research Assistant 

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your work-study role

I am a third year international student from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, pursuing a double major in Urban Studies and Human Geography with a focus in Planning, and a minor in Geographic Information System. As a Communications Assistant for the Urban Studies program, I worked closely with Jannie Chien and Professor David Roberts in facilitating the outreach of the program through the USP Monthly Newsletters and different social media outlets. My experience working for the Urban Studies Program has allowed me to connect with many USP and Innis College faculty members through our monthly profile features and learn from their disparate experiences. I am beyond thrilled to see the USP community grow and am sincerely thankful for the great experience working for the program.

Q: What made you decide to pursue urban studies as part of your undergraduate degree?

Cities are centers of civilization, each with unique and interesting features. They can be jungles of freeways, parks, and skyscrapers. They are also places that foster creativity, connection and opportunities. At the same time, cities are spaces of marginalization, poverty and inequity. Simply put, cities are multidimensional spaces that must be taught in an interdisciplinary approach. I believe that the Urban Studies Program effectively captures this intricate nature by exploring urbanization and its associated social, cultural, economic, and demographic processes from diverse fields and offers students a well-rounded understanding of the topic.

Q: Tell us about your academic interests?  

Related to my interests in housing development and land-use planning, I am conducting my first independent research on Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s informal neighborhoods known as “Ger areas.” These peri-urban informal settlements lack modernized urban infrastructural services, including sewage systems, water supply, sanitary facilities and access to public transportation systems. At the same time, Mongolia’s land administration system has entitled each citizen to 300–700 m2 of land in the capital city—making these informal neighborhoods legitimate assets that are valuable to their residents. Therefore, despite urban redevelopment being a political and technical process concerned with the welfare of people, there is the potential for redevelopment-induced displacement. My qualitative research investigates the different narratives and “promises” utilized by policymakers and private developers to negotiate a deal with Ger area residents to redevelop their neighborhoods. It also explores the lived experiences of individuals who have contributed their land for the redevelopment efforts. I hope that the findings can shed light on the kinds of infrastructure and support that are needed in Ger areas and guide future urban planning initiatives in Ulaanbaatar.

USP Summer 2022 Course Offerings

Are you considering taking a summer course? Here is what the program is offering this summer. View the Arts and Science Summer 2022 Timetable here
Whether you are working on long-standing project (academic, creative) or finishing up discussion posts for your courses, SUAW session can help you keep on track with timed blocks and breaks within an online community. Click here to register for an online session. 
This program uses your participant’s love of Minecraft to explore the fundamentals of design and architecture while building teamwork and communication skills. Click here for more information. 
Evergreen’s volunteers are vital to make our cities flourish. They are city builders who support a host of projects and programs at Evergreen Brick Works (Toronto) and across the country. The volunteers will receive training and learning opportunities, regular communications, ongoing support and appreciation. Click here to become a volunteer. 
Click here to join the School of Cities at the launch of the World Urban Pavilion in Regent Park. The exhibition will feature the practice and value of creative mixed-use buildings as a distinctly made-in-Toronto model of city building.
Climate displacement is accelerating because of climate change, and creates new adaptation challenges for both the sending and receiving regions. Click here to explore the issue of climate displacement with faculty members of UC Berkeley’s new cluster in climate equity and environmental justice. 

Sidewalk robots can perform useful services like contactless delivery and sidewalk clearing. They may also shift congestion from our streets to our sidewalks, competing for space in dynamic environments, and impeding accessibility. Click here to learn more. 

IMFG Graduate Fellow Shervin Ghaem-Maghami will examine how selected municipalities in the GTA are engaging immigrants in planning decisions, and how such public participation activities can be improved. Click here to register. 
Researchers from across U of T bring home the many ways mobility affects our lives in The Way Forward, a panel discussion series. An introductory overview will be followed by short presentations, a moderated panel discussion, and audience Q & A. Click here to register. 
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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 Khulan Enkhbold, Urban Studies Research and Communications Assistant
All rights reserved.
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[P] 416-946-7107

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Urban Studies Newsletter · 2 Sussex Avenue · Toronto, ON M5S 1J5 · Canada

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