Meet your instructors

Faculty

Urban Studies Program instructors are 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.

David Roberts stands in the East Atrium of Innis College

David Roberts

Director & Associate Professor, Teaching Stream

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.

2023-2024 Courses:

JGU216H1S: Globalization and Urban Change
URB235H1F: Introduction to Urban Studies
URB431Y1Y: Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project
URB439H1F: 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
Dr. David J. Roberts
Director & Associate Professor, Teaching Stream
d.roberts@utoronto.ca
416-978-7790

aditi

Aditi Mehta

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

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.

2023-2024 Courses:

URB234H1F: Cities in Popular Culture
URB236H1S: A Multidisciplinary Introduction to Urban Studies II: Urban Challenges and Theoretical Application
URB335H1F: City Challenges, City Opportunities in a 21st Century Toronto

URB342H1S: Introduction to Qualitative Methods for Urban Studies
URB430H1S: The Changing Culture of Regent Park

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

Pamela Fuentes-Peralta Headshot

Pamela Fuentes Peralta

Sessional Instructor

I am a historian of Latin America, specializing in twentieth-century Mexico, gender, sexualities, and urban history. I am often researching connections between history and current events, and I have experience teaching Latina/o Studies and Latin American Politics. 

I have had the opportunity to study, work, and live in three great cities: Mexico City, NYC, and Toronto. Some of the classes I have enjoyed the most are the ones about Latin American activism, the history and resistance of latinxs in the United States, and the central role women have played in the shaping of activism and political conversations in Latin America in the last decades.

Besides my recent opportunity to teach with the Urban Studies program at Innis College, I am the Communications Officer of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Victoria College. I am very interested in public outreach, and in 2018 I joined the New Books Network, a consortium of author-interview podcasts, as a podcast interviewer for their Latin American Studies channel, also taking on editing duties in 2021. Along with my colleague, Paula de la Cruz Fernandez, I developed New Books Network en español, the Spanish branch of the project, which has allowed me to collaborate with universities and academics in different countries of the world to present their research to a wide public.

2023-2024 Courses
URB333H1F – Social Justice in the City

My teaching and research

My research has focused on sexualities and Mexican cities in the 20th century, particularly how the debates on trafficking in women shaped not only regulations but also sex work spaces and practices in the country. Since working as a TA at York University, where I got my Ph.D., I have been interested in sharing the interconnectedness of events in big cities in the Americas in order to understand the human dimension of urbanization and the millions of ordinary lives affected by it. Every time I teach a class, I learn something from students’ perspectives and experiences which is the ultimate goal of discussing readings and hearing others: understanding how the class topics are related to the places we inhabit.

My favourite city is…

Mexico City, my hometown, is my favourite city. It never ceases to surprise me how much it changes every time I go back to visit, and the millions of stories that happen there every day. It has become popular nowadays for “digital nomads”, but for me, it has been my lifetime favourite, and in the end, it will always be home. Madrid is a city that has been on my travel wish list for a long time. I would love to visit el Museo del Prado and see Diego Velazquez’s Meninas and Picasso’s Guernica (among other works — my list is quite long!)

Contact
Pamela Fuentes Peralta
Sessional Instructor
pamela.fuentesperalta@utoronto.ca

Daniel Fusca

Daniel Fusca

Sessional Instructor

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.

2023 2024 Courses
URB432H1F: 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.

Contact
Daniel Fusca
Sessional Instructor
d.fusca@utoronto.ca

headshot of peter galambos

Peter Galambos

Sessional Instructor

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.

2023-2024 Courses:
URB336H1S: 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.

Contact
Peter Galambos
Sessional Instructor
peter.galambos@utoronto.ca

alana jones

Alana Jones

Sessional Instructor

I became an educator in 2014 and used the skills and experiences from being on the frontline and as a senior leader in the non-profit sector to engage students and bridge the gap between theory and community practice.

I have combined my MA in Environmental Studies from York University to further enhance the learning experiences for students and staff that I support.

As director of Housing Access and Support Services (currently on secondment doing research), my dual responsibility is to provide community mental health support and housing options for homeless/marginalized individuals. While limited housing stock in Toronto continues to be a significant concern, there remains limited focus on redesigning existing structures to become affordable, structurally accessible, environmentally sustainable, and reliant on innovation.

2023-2024 Courses:

URB337H1F: Housing and Homelessness
URB433H1S: Housing and Homelessness II: Behind the Frontline on Urban Homelessness

My teaching and research

At the college level, I have been an instructor for various courses in addiction, substance use, harm reduction, mental health, system navigation, student advising, community case management, community development, and community engagement.

At U of T, I am an instructor with the Women and Gender Studies Institute department, teaching a community engagement course, and here, with the Urban Studies Program, teaching about housing and homelessness. Both courses are a direct intersection of my work and lived experience. I value the opportunity to provide students with case studies relevant to their learning and interest, emphasizing mentorship and shared knowledge.

In addition to my teaching, I am a key knowledge user on a national research team looking at the psychological impact during COVID-19 on staff in organizations serving homeless people, led by the University of Calgary’s Dr. Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff. My focus is in this important project is on research that examines the psychological environments in which frontline staff with lived experiences and Traumatic Stress in the homelessness sector. Read our 2021 article for Emerald Insight.

 As a community practitioner and educator, I am committed to the following:

  • Being a strong champion for engaged student learning that focuses on strength-based student learning
  • Promoting psychological safety and wellness that fosters growth and self-care
  • Providing students with hands-on experiences in a community setting
  • Ongoing participation and development of core curriculums at post-secondary institutions and sectoral knowledge exchange tables
  • Supporting frontline staff who provide support in chaotic environments have access to adequate self-care tools and support

Learn more about my book Behind the Frontline.

My favourite city is…

My favourite city is actually my favourite village. La Brea is found in southern Trinidad, nestled between San Fernando and Point Fortin, within The Pitch Lake — one of the seven wonders of the world. This wonder was my childhood “backyard” playground. The products of the region not only sustain Trinidad and Tobago’s roadways but are a key export for the construction industries of countries, including Canada. My love for people and not wanting to see anyone in need or homeless was cultivated in this quiet but full-of-life village, which I called home.

Contact
Alana Jones
Sessional Instructor
alana.jones@utoronto.ca

Neil Price headshot

Neil Price

Sessional Instructor

 I am a sessional instructor in the Urban Studies Program. I am deeply engaged in thinking about universities and the role they play in our lives and communities. My research looks at how educational institutions both include and exclude persons based on their identities, histories and interests. I am also interested in researching how knowledge mobilization and learning happens beyond formal institutions.

I was born and raised in Toronto and have worked as a teacher, consultant, youth worker and even a TTC bus driver. I pull on these experiences to think about how racialized communities advocate for their needs, particularly when resources are scarce.

2023-2024 courses:

URB438H1S Advanced Urban Research Project: Health and Food Justice in Toronto During the COVID-19 Pandemic

About me

I am a PhD Candidate in the Adult Education and Community Development Program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. I have spent most of my career working within or alongside community-based organizations that serve racialized communities. As such, this course presents an opportunity for me to share my experiences in the field while helping students to learn how community organizations respond to health and food justice issues. Through case studies, we will learn about the strategies, principles, actions and outcomes that grassroots groups work toward in their struggle for social and health justice. 

My teaching and research

My research is focused on higher education institutions and the people who interact with/within them. I am interested in both the historical and contemporary function and purpose of universities and colleges and how they enact particular violences on Black and Indigenous peoples. I view higher education institutions as having an enormous influence over how communities and political decisions are made. I am therefore interested in examining how we might move toward alternative notions of higher learning.

My favourite city is . . .

My favourite city by far is Toronto. There is something about home that I have not felt elsewhere. Toronto is by no means a paradise and has become unaffordable and unforgiving in many ways. Nonetheless, the city’s diversity, natural resources and general welcoming spirit offer opportunities to imagine a better, fairer and just city.

Learn more about me

In addition to my research and teaching, I have a deep interest in art. I enjoy visiting galleries and writing about what I see there. You can check out my writing here.

 

AGWebb_headshot

Alan Webb

Sessional Instructor

I’m an architect, artist, and educator interested in exploring how art in the public realm reflects, informs and challenges our understanding of ourselves and of our place in the world.

I’m co-founder of the interdisciplinary art and design studio LeuWebb Projects with Christine Leu, where our work has been exhibited both internationally and locally here in Toronto. My creative path has led me to draw upon aspects of sound art, public sculpture, participatory design and more, from across the many cities where I’ve worked and studied, including Helsinki, Rome, New York, and Montreal. My education began with professional degree in architecture at the University of Waterloo, through to a graduate degree in art history at the University of Toronto.

2023-2024 Summer Courses:
URB433H1F –  Creative Citizens and the Art of Discovery

My teaching and research

As an educator, I have taught with U of T’s Urban Studies program, as well as OCAD University and Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Interior Design, serving as instructor in courses from design thinking to colour theory to digital fabrication to monuments reconsidered. Drawing on the diverse methodologies of studio practice, scholarly research and critical dialogue has helped me work with students to empower their own sense of discovery. 

My research predominantly takes the form of applied creative practice with the work of LeuWebb Projects, where we pose questions through art making in the public realm, examining the notion of place, access, and ecology within urban public space. Most recently I presented scholarly art and architectural history research connecting artist Joyce Wieland and urban theorist Jane Jacobs with civic activism and environmental defence in a paper at the 2023 Society of Architectural Historians international conference.

My favourite city is . . .

Tokyo is a city I would love to spend more time in to continue to learn from its macro and micro scales. Closer to home, Montreal has always been a favourite city, one that continues to change and adapt while retaining much of what’s made it such a special place.

Learn more about me

Contact
Alan Webb
Sessional Instructor
alan.webb@utoronto.ca

Have questions about USP?

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

programs.innis@utoronto.ca