Build Your Program


From foundational courses offering a multidisciplinary introduction to the theories of city building, to qualitative research courses that connect students to local leaders and organizations, the Urban Studies Program (USP) courses deliver a vibrant and challenging combination of classroom and community-engaged learning. We offer minor, major, and specialist options.

A focus on community-engaged learning

More than four decades ago, we created the Urban Studies Program (USP) with a clear focus on community-engaged experiential learning. Our longstanding partnerships with the City of Toronto, and other local, regional, and national organizations, give our students both front-row access to the inner workings of a city — and numerous opportunities to help effect meaningful change in an urban setting. You’ll learn, apply your skills and knowledge, and begin to build a professional network that will become a valuable asset in your post-grad future. Visit our Experiential Learning page to learn more. And we’ve also flagged courses below that feature a community-engaged-learning component with this symbol 

Course offerings for 2022/23 Fall/Winter sessions

For a schedule of current course offerings, please see the Faculty of Arts & Science Timetable. For a complete listing of courses — currently offered or not — please see the Faculty of Arts & Science Calendar.

Professor: Aditi Mehta
Course Code: URB234H1
Format: Lecture
What do the birth of hip hop in the rec room of a Bronx apartment building, Batman’s iconic Gotham City, and the Nollywood (Nigerian) film industry have in common? They are each significant examples of pop culture that have shaped our understanding of contemporary cities.
Professor: David Roberts
Course Code: URB235H1
Format: Lecture
We have entered the Urban Age - for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. This has wide-reaching implications for both urban and non-urban ways of life. This course will introduce you to how various thinkers have written about cities and urban life.
Professor: Aditi Mehta
Course Code: URB236H1
Format: Lecture/Community-engaged learning
Cities are ever evolving. This is our premise: rather than study what cities are, we will focus on what cities have been and what they can be. Building on the theoretical foundations gained in URB235, we will concentrate on what drives urban and neighborhood change, identifying the factors and spaces at the heart of the evolution of cities.
Course Code: JGU216H1
Format: Lecture
Globalization – or the movement of people, things, money, and ideas across international boundaries – has had a profound impact on cities and urban life. In this course we will explore the effects of globalization on various cities throughout the world through a case-study approach.
Professor: Peter Galambos
Course Code: URB336H1
Format: Lecture/Discussion
What is a “creative city” and why would we want to live in one? The idea of the “creative city” underwrites an approach to city building that emphasizes the role of culture, the arts, and, more generally, creativity, in urban development.
Professor: Alana Jones
Course Code: URB337H1
Format: Lecture/Discussion
Homelessness is one of the most urgent urban issues today, demanding multi-layered solutions from planners, politicians, policy makers -- and students like you, who are becoming educated and engaged urban citizens.
Professor: Aditi Mehta
Course Code: URB338H1
Format: Lecture
The City of Toronto has experienced tremendous demographic change over the course of the last century, evolving into one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. It has become a national and international centre of economic activity, with a vibrant arts and culture scene and world-renowned research, educational, and health institutions.
Professor: David Hulchanski
Course Code: URB339H1
Format: Lecture/Discussion
Drawing from groundbreaking research currently being carried out by the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership, URB339 explores the growing economic inequality and ethno-cultural divides that are reshaping neighbourhoods and changing lives in Canada’s largest -- and increasingly diverse -- cities.
Professor: Aditi Mehta
Course Code: URB342H1
Format: Seminar/Experiential/Community-engaged learning
How do you conduct meaningful and rigorous research about cities using qualitative – not quantitative – methods, such as interviews, oral histories, mapping, surveys, photography, and archives? In this interactive workshop class, you will learn how to be a researcher and design a research project about a public space in the GTA.
Professor: Aditi Mehta
Course Code: URB430H1
Format: Seminar/Experiential/Community-engaged learning
This unique and creative course is a collaboration with Focus Media Arts Centre, a not-for-profit organization that counters negative stereotypes about Toronto’s Regent Park community, and provides media literacy and production training for youth living in the area.
Professor: David Roberts
Course Code: URB431Y1
Format: Community-engaged learning; work as part of a student team consulting with a community-based client to solve a design challenge.
Working as part of a team of fourth-year undergrad students drawn from different U of T faculties and departments, you will tackle a real-world design challenge provided by a community organization or local municipality. You and your team will become consultants, using a multidisciplinary and mixed-methods problem-solving approach to meet the client’s needs.
Professor: Daniel Fusca
Course Code: URB432H1
Format: Seminar with practical learning modules and a practical assignment for a real-world client
When we meaningfully engage people in the work of government we can improve civility, foster community, increase trust and accountability, and solve complex or controversial problems. But when we engage people in ways that feel rote or hollow, we often see the opposite effects.
Professor: Laura Visan
Course Code: URB437Y1
Format: Seminar and Community Placement
Are you ready for a next-level challenge? In this community-engaged-learning course, the focus is on learning by doing. You will be placed with a city-building organization where you will spend eight hours each week contributing your intellect, energy, curiosity, and imagination to support the work of your placement organization.
Professor: David Roberts
Course Code: URB439H1
Format: Lecture
Warning: after completing URB439, you will never be able to watch the Olympics or World Cup in the same way again! We’ve all enjoyed the spectacle and excitement of mega-events that enthrall television audiences around the globe. These carefully choreographed media images obscure the processes, compromises, and consequences that the events impose on their host cities.

Have a question?

Need more info about the Urban Studies Program? Not sure which courses are right for you? Interested in combining USP with a major or minor in another program? We can help. Contact our program coordinator, Jannie Chien.

Is a community placement for you?

Are you interested in learning and working in a local urban-focused organization during your fourth year in USP? URB437: Urban Experiential Learning in Toronto and the GTA offers a unique opportunity to study advanced USP topics through small-group seminars and placements in organizations such as the Spacing Magazine, STEPS Public Art, and the Canadian Urban Institute.