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End of the Year Message from David Roberts, Associate Professor and Director of the Urban Studies Program

Students, Alumni, and Friends of the Urban Studies Program,  
Congratulations. We have made it – to the end of the term and, perhaps more importantly, the end of 2020 and a really challenging year. This has been quite a difficult year – to provide leadership for the program as the pandemic and its impacts on the university unfolded; to teach online and essentially learn how to communicate ideas and create a dynamic classroom experience through a new platform; and undoubtedly to be a student and learn how to learn in new ways – all while trying to balance our various life commitments during an unprecedented, on-going public health emergency. Heartfelt congratulations for arriving at the end of the term – and here’s to a healthier, more joyous, and prosperous 2021.  
The pandemic, and the various responses to it, have also exposed and exacerbated various inequalities in Toronto (and the other cities around the world). It is clear that one’s income, race, and the neighbourhood they live in are all factors that impact both the likelihood that they will contract COVID 19 as well as the type of care they will receive if infected. The fissures in our city are on full display and the consequences are deadly. This is intolerable. And, to me, this crisis highlights the fundamental need for the Urban Studies Program and our commitment to the multidisciplinary focus on understanding cities – both for what they are (and have been) and, perhaps more importantly, what they can be. Quite frankly, this crisis is shining a bright light on the limits of the city as it currently exists. I am thankful to direct a program that works to imagine (and realize) future cities that are more liveable, just, and equitable. 
As we sit, here on the horizon of 2021 with promises that the COVID 19 vaccines hold in allowing us to return to ‘normal’ sooner than later, it is essential that we do not lose sight of the inequities that have been exposed – we have an opportunity to make significant inroads in realizing a better, more just, urban future through recovery programs that are centred on addressing injustice and inequality. What is clear is that we should imagine something different than a return to a ‘normal’ that was not all that liveable for many in our communities. I look forward to ways that the Urban Studies Program, our students, alumni, faculty, and community partners can be part of such a recovery. I encourage you to reach out with any suggestions, ideas, partnership opportunities, or anything else that comes to mind towards this goal.  
And finally, thank you for your ongoing support and connection to the Urban Studies Program. I hope you have a restful and safe break. 

Supporting U of T Students During COVID-19: Compassion in the Classroom

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered learning environments; forcing students to rapidly adapt to new systems, schedules and methods. The abrupt shift to online learning has caused many students to experience heightened stress. As a result, U of T professors across all three campuses have come together to discuss course changes, in order to lower stress and improve future learning for students. Click here to read more

Indigenous Landscape Design Draws on Community Consultation


U of T’s Landmark Project proposes the design of an Indigenous space at the heart of the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus. The design of this Indigenous space is for the purpose of fostering community, celebrating Indigenous culture and educating visitors about Indigenous histories. The Indigenous Landscape project uses design, storytelling and culture to create a highly visible Indigenous Space. The design of this project was developed with extensive consultation with Indigenous U of T community members and Elders. Click here to read more

CR/NCR & LWD Extensions 

The CR/NCR & LWD dates are extended for F session courses to January 15, 2021. Students will be able to review their final marks before deciding on CR/NCR or LWD options. Click here for more information

Congratulations on completing the fall semester! The USP wishes all students a safe and relaxing winter break. Check out these cool urban-related links while unwinding over winter break. 

DesignTO January 2021 Festival

The Signature Films of 76 Cities Around The World 

Know a fellow city lover? Give the gift of these notable urban studies titles!

The Life And Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs 

Subdivided: City Building In An Age of Hyper-Diversity by Jay Pitter & John Lorinc

The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to The Hidden World of Everday Design by Roman Mars & Kurt Kohlstedt

Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto by Shawn Micallef


Evicted: Poverty And Profit In The American City by Matthew Desmond

Great Streets by Allan B. Jacobs

Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space by Jan Gehl 

The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson


Next Steps Conference 


The Next Steps Conference is an event for Arts & Science students and recent graduates. The conference allows students and recent graduates to explore career options, prepare for life after graduation and provides the opportunity to enhance professional networks. The conference will be held on January 25 to 27 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM (EST) daily. Click here to learn more and to register

School of Cities Seminar: Understanding Transportation Data Ontologies

The decision-making and implementation process of transportation systems are crucial for food and health supply chains. In order to make good decisions about the design and policies that support transportation systems, the collection of a significant amount of data is required. This upcoming seminar features guest speaker Dr. Megan Kutsumi, a Research Associate at the University of Toronto’s Enterprise Integration Laboratory, with the focus on her research on the foundations of ontology development. Dr. Kutsumi will discuss the current challenges with data processing, integration and the use of ontologies. This seminar will be held on February 21, 2021, from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM (EST). This seminar is part of the School of Cities seminar series “Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains". Click here to learn more

U of T’s Hub on Ten Thousand Coffees


The U of T Hub on Ten Thousand Coffees is a career networking platform for all U of T community members. The network consists of over 3,000 U of T alumni professionals across a variety of fields. Students are encouraged to seek career advice at any time and from anywhere. Click here to learn more

JGI216H1 – Globalization and Urban Change

Instructor: David Roberts
Time: Thursdays 16:00 - 18:00 
Delivery Method: Online Synchronous

This course is focused on the impacts that global flows of ideas, culture, people, goods, and capital have on cities throughout the globe. The course is organized around 6 central types of cities – Colonial Cities, World Class Cities, Multicultural Cities, Cities of the Under Developed World, Securitized Cities and Cities of the Future. These are not meant to be mutually exclusive typologies, but rather a (hopefully) useful way of thinking through the various linkages between globalization and urban change – both historical and contemporary. Some of the questions we will delve into include: What is globalization and how has it impacted urbanization? How have the processes of globalization shaped cities in various parts of the world? What are some of the factors that differentiate the experiences of urbanization and global change in cities at different moments in history and in various geographic locations?

INI333H1 – Critical Approaches in Urban Studies: Social Justice In The City: Housing & Homelessness

Instructor: Aditi Mehta
Time: Thursday 13:00 - 15:00 
Delivery Method: Online Synchronous

A common approach to studying the city is to quantify the outcome of processes and to rely on the scientific method and quantitative analysis to test hypotheses and ultimately create new knowledge. Critical approaches have been advanced on the belief that the notion of quantification, and that of positivism itself, could be inappropriate, if not altogether flawed. This course will introduce students to a variety of critical or alternative approaches to understanding the urban experience. How do we develop knowledge about the city and whose voice matters? The first portion of the course will focus on understanding theories of justice, knowledge production, and power in the city. The second portion of the course will use these frameworks to recognize the city from various identities: indigenous, feminist, queer, immigrant, racial/ethnic minority, youth, etc. We will unpack several examples of participatory action research that address the unique struggles of each population, and discuss how research can be a tool for resistance.

INI339H1 – Divided City / United City

Instructor: David Hulchanski
Time: Tuesday 10:00 - 12:00 
Delivery Method: Online Synchronous

Divided City / United City focuses on the impact of increased economic inequality and the resulting socio-spatial polarization trends that are reshaping the social landscape of Canada’s metropolitan areas, changing neighbourhoods, and affecting the lived realities of an increasingly diverse urban population. The aim is to bring into the classroom the latest research on key urban issues with the opportunity to discuss the research process and findings with the researchers themselves. The course examines inequality, diversity, and change at the neighbourhood level in Canada’s metropolitan areas, with an in-depth focus on Toronto as a case example. We discuss the trends and seek to explain the processes causing the trends, as well as the consequences and their implications for public policies and programs. Many of these trends and processes contribute to segregation and disadvantage on the basis of age, gender, race, ethnicity, Aboriginal identity, and immigration status.


INI432H1 – Special Topics in Urban Studies: Racial capitalism, Settler Colonialism, Urban Infrastructure

Instructor: Wesley Attewell
Time: Thursdays 13:00 - 15:00 
Delivery Method:  Online Synchronous

This course will consider how the everyday work of racial capitalism and settler colonialism has always been grounded through infrastructures: or, the geographically extensive systems that build, sustain, and manage human life. These entangled infrastructural projects have shaped urban life across Turtle Island from the early 20th century onwards. Drawing from the work of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Deborah Cowen, Cedric Robinson, and Audra Simpson, this course seeks to better understand how the US and Canadian settler states have leveraged infrastructure – in both its obvious and less obvious forms – as a way of responding to the “urban panics” engendered by the evolving geographies of immigration, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class. To this end, this course shall explore a diversity of topics, including gentrification, broken windows policing, diasporic (sub)urbanisms, and urban poverty, to name only a few examples. This course will attend to the ways in which urban infrastructures have always doubled as a terrain for radical struggle, resistance and refusal. The course will conclude by reflecting on the ongoing and urgent political need to work towards the abolition of carceral and settler urban regimes in all of their various guises and dimensions.
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Copyright © 2020 University of Toronto,
Urban Studies Program

Room 233E, Innis College, University of Toronto
2 Sussex Ave, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5
Prepared by Caroline Tam, Urban Studies Communications Assistant
All rights reserved.
Contact Us:
[P] 416-946-7107

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

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