Meet your instructors

Faculty

The Urban Studies Program is taught by respected scholars, researchers, community leaders, and professionals engaged in urban planning and social issues. All excel at interactive, small-group teaching, fostering an inclusive and enriched learning environment for students.

Noah Alison

Noah Allison

About me
I am a course instructor in the Urban Studies Program, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Culinaria Research Centre, where I co-lead the Feeding City Lab.

I became habitually curious about cities — and the people who inhabit them — from growing up in the sprawling landscape of Los Angeles. This led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in architectural and urban history, and later a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. After working as a preservation planner in Los Angeles and then as a transportation planner in New York City for nearly a decade, I completed a PhD in urban and public policy.

Courses taught in 2021/22:
URB338: Food and Society in Global Cities – Summer 2022

My teaching and research
My writing and teaching focus on everyday city life in the context of migration, politics of difference, culinary work, and governance, with an eye to making societies equitable, viable, healthy, and inclusive. My work is multidisciplinary, connecting approaches, theories, and methodologies from the social sciences, design disciplines, and the humanities. This allows me to engage in debates centred on the relationship between inadequately resourced groups and the cities that surround them. For instance, my current project explores how diversity is marketed in city-making projects, and contested through ordinary practices of cooking, eating, and selling food in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, and Toronto.

My favourite city is . . .
Mexico City is one of my favorite metropolises because of its vibrant and colourful tianguis (street markets). I am fascinated by them, as they are one of the city’s most vital institutions that operate on a quasi-formal basis.

I want to visit Lagos soon to understand the rhythms of Makoko — a large settlement informally built on stilts in a lagoon off the city’s mainland.

Learn more about me
http://noahallison.com

Contact
Noah Alison
Sessional Instructor
noah.allison@utoronto.ca

Daniel Fusca

About me
I’m a public servant who is passionate about making a difference in my world. I chose to study and work in urban planning because I wanted to help build great cities where people could prosper. 

Eventually, my work started to focus on the importance of public engagement in achieving that goal, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I was the stakeholder-engagement lead for the City of Toronto’s Planning Division for close to six years, where I worked to introduce new tools and processes to improve the way the division engaged with and communicated to the public. Today, I’m the manager of public consultation for the city’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division, where I oversee a team that designs and implements all the public engagement associated with implementing the city’s $2.7 billion parks and recreation capital plan.

Courses taught in 2020/2021:
URB432: Urban Studio: Public Participation in Policy Making

My teaching and research
I love teaching, because it motivates me to engage in the theory behind what I do, which is something you don’t always have the time to engage in as a professional. I also find it rewarding to impart to my students so much of the practical knowledge that I’ve gained through my career but was never taught in school myself.

My favourite city is . . .
This is a hard one, but one of my favourite cities is Berlin. It’s a city with such a fascinating history, and when you visit, there are so many layers of that history that you can find throughout the landscape, making it exciting to explore. It’s also a beautiful city that’s fun, progressive, affordable, and the food is good too!

Learn more about me
https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-fusca-60844126/

Contact
Daniel Fusca
Sessional Instructor
dfusca@gmail.com

headshot of peter galambos

Peter Galambos

About me

As both a scholar and educator, my primary interest is the study of cities — their people, design, and culture. My focus is the study of the politics of space and place and, in particular, the way we shape, and are in turn shaped by, our physical environments.

I like to describe myself as someone who has his head in the humanities and social sciences, and his heart in the arts. My studies and career path have somewhat reflected this.

I completed my PhD in 2018 at the New School for Social Research, focusing on political theory and urban politics. Yet, many of my first teaching experiences came at arts and design institutions. These early teaching experiences taught me many things. Most importantly, they opened my eyes to the multitude of ways of both learning and communicating ideas — beyond what I became accustomed to in my own studies.

Since graduating, I have become a vocal advocate for interdisciplinary education, not only through my own teaching, but also through my creative work and leadership in various curricular design pilot projects.

Courses taught in 2022/23
URB336: Creative Cities

My teaching and research
I joined the Urban Studies Program in 2022, teaching URB336: Creative Cities — a course that explores the role of culture, the arts, and creativity in city building. I strive to incorporate innovative approaches to the study of cities that emphasize interdisciplinarity, critical thought, and a strong commitment to progressive social change.

For my PhD research, I studied the history of “utopias” in architecture and city planning. While this is a history that has been told before, my aim was to offer a new perspective that emphasized the critical and rhetorical dimensions of the work of architects, planners, and urban visionaries such as Leon Battista Alberti and Louis Sebastian Mercier. My claim was that before becoming maligned for their associations with modernist city planning, urban utopias often represented a novel and exciting method for criticism and activism. Since graduating, I have begun a number of new research projects, while expanding my dissertation work into a book project.

I have also begun to combine my scholarly interests with my own creative practices. In 2019, I was fortunate to hold my first exhibition of photographic works, titled “Chronicles of a Patient Watcher.” I am currently working on a new exhibition of photographic works. 

My favourite city is…
My favourite city has to be New York, where I lived while completing my graduate studies. It has had a great impact on my life, both personally and professionally. I have love for Toronto, but New York will always occupy a special place in my heart.

Learn more about me

Aditi Mehta

Aditi Mehta

About me
I am an assistant professor in the teaching stream of the Urban Studies Program. I really enjoy conducting qualitative research and being methodologically creative.

 For example, I believe that using aesthetic forms such as photography, film, and mapping are an effective way to learn about cities.

I also aim to make my research and teaching more community-accountable by designing courses that engage with community partners. These collaborations create the potential for social change while also prompting reflection on how knowledge is produced.

Courses taught in 2020/21
URB236: Introduction to Urban Studies II
URB234: Cities in Popular Culture
URB342: Introduction to Qualitative Methods for Urban Studies
URB333: Social Justice in the City
URB431: Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project

My teaching and research
As a core faculty member in the Urban Studies Program, I teach a wide variety of courses, from our introductory classes to more specialized courses based on my research – like URB430: The Changing Culture of Regent Park.

My commitment to active learning and pedagogical research has taken a variety of forms, including topics where urban inequality, environmental justice, community development, and technology intersect.

With my students, I explore how urban residents produce and disseminate knowledge about discrimination, climate change, and public health. We use new media tools to influence policy in neighborhoods via meaningful public participation and organizing. For example, I am currently exploring how Muslim youth in the Regent Park neighbourhood experience rapid redevelopment, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

My favourite city is…
One of my favourite cities is New Orleans, Louisiana. The history, culture, festivals, art, vibrancy, food, and music are captivating. I began working there in 2008, post-Hurricane Katrina, on economic development projects, and used a variety of qualitative methods to write my dissertation on disaster-inspired community media in 2017.

Learn more about me

Contact
Aditi Mehta
Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream
aditi.mehta@utoronto.ca
416-978-7463

David Roberts stands in the East Atrium of Innis College

David Roberts

About me
I am an associate professor in the teaching stream, and also the director of the Urban Studies Program. I have a deep passion for understanding how cities work and what influences urban change, and am also committed to building more just and liveable urban futures.

I grew up in Seattle — with a lot of family also in New York City. The culture, communities, diversity, and wicked challenges of these two cities — along with, more recently, my residence in Toronto — have had profound impacts on my understanding of cities and their potential.

One of my first jobs after undergrad was working at an emergency shelter for unhoused and refugee youth in Seattle. This work continues to shape how I think about cities — and also inspired me to come to U of T — first as a master’s and then PhD student in geography.

Courses taught in 2021/22
URB235: Introduction to Urban Studies
URB236: Introduction to Urban Studies II
URB338: Advanced Topics in Urban Studies I: City Challenges, City
Opportunities in the 21st Century Toronto

URB431: Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project
URB439: Cities and Mega-events: Place-making, Contestation, and Urban Citizenship

My teaching and research
As a core faculty member in the Urban Studies Program, I teach a wide variety of courses, from introductory to more specialized courses on my research — like URB439: Cities and Mega-events.  

My research tends to focus on the ways in which individuals and groups who have been historically excluded from formal forms of city-building, like urban planning, can and do have their voices heard. In my current project, I co-design improvements to social services with refugee youth who arrived in Toronto on their own. I was also recently awarded a Transatlantic Partnership Grant as part of a team of researchers from Canada, Brazil, and the UK. We will be researching grassroots community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the areas of healthcare equity and food justice through community-engaged research.

My favourite city is…
One of my favourite cities is Durban, South Africa. I fell in love with Durban when I lived there while studying the impacts of the 2010 World Cup on the people who live, work, and play in the city. I miss the people, the food, the beach, and the vibrancy of life in Durban.

Learn more about me

Contact
Director & Associate Professor, Teaching Stream
d.roberts@utoronto.ca
416-978-7790

Have questions about USP?

Need more info? Want to discuss if the Urban Studies Program is right for you? Looking for help choosing courses? Jannie Chien, Innis College academic program coordinator, can help!

programs.innis@utoronto.ca
416-946-7107