The Urban Studies Program (USP) relies on its local, regional, and national partner-organizations to create opportunities for student placements, team projects, volunteer work, co-curricular events, speakers, and student employment, as well as other forms of dynamic community-engaged learning.
What is community-engaged learning?
Community-engaged learning often involves moving beyond the classroom, so that students learn in and with different communities and community organizations. It is a form of experiential learning that allows students to gain and apply knowledge and skills in a real-world context — and helps organizations to address their own needs. We also welcome community experts into our classrooms as guest speakers, co-facilitators, and instructors.
Is my organization eligible?
USP counts on many community partners, broadly working in city-building, including:
Currently, we work with the City of Toronto, Evergreen, Regent Park – Focus Media Arts Centre, the Canadian Urban Institute, MaRS Discovery District, the Kensington Market Community Land Trust, Spacing magazine, and many others.
We are always on the lookout for new partners, and new ways of partnering. Please contact us if you have questions or ideas about working with us.
Why partner with us?
Beyond the significant benefits to students who gain on-the-ground experience, and a foundation to become leaders in their field, the advantages to your organization are many and meaningful:
- Highly motivated and engaged students can help address your organization’s identified needs and gaps, including programs, services, and initiatives.
- Students bring a fresh, new perspective and skill set to your organization.
- Students could be your future talent, bringing organizational knowledge and known skills to a position.
- You have an opportunity to educate students on your organization’s goals, priorities, and challenges.
- You will build a relationship with the University, with the potential for new knowledge-exchange opportunities, partnerships, and connections.
- You are making a significant contribution to fostering the development of socially engaged citizens who are ready to lead.
What kind of commitment is needed?
The Urban Studies Program has several community-engaged-learning courses that require varying levels of support and commitment from our partners. These include:
- Short volunteer placements of 12 hours within one month
- Eight-hour-per-week internships
- Guest lecturer and advisor positions for your organization’s staff
- Other opportunities designed to fit your organization’s needs and USP course requirements
- Co-curricular opportunities not directly linked to individual courses, including requests for speakers, conference participation, mentorships, entrepreneurship, and start-up partnerships
Learn more about USP’s community-engaged learning courses
What kind of work have students done with community partners?
See how USP students learned about the inner workings of Toronto City Hall in a partnership with CivicLabTO.
Learn how seniors in long-term care homes partnered with USP students in an oral-history research project. Read a U of T News article on the same qualitative research project.
Read about a unique partnership between FOCUS Media Arts Centre in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood and USP students, working together to change the conversation about under-represented and marginalized communities.
Interested in learning more about community partnerships?
Need more information about community-engaged learning and partnering with the Urban Studies Program? Have an idea on how your organization can participate? Not sure your organization’s goals and needs are a match with any of our courses? We are always looking for new partnership opportunities and ideas, including those outside the classroom, so please contact us for a chat.
We couldn’t do it without you!
Thank you to all our community partners! Your longstanding support of the Urban Studies Program has had an invaluable impact on the academic and career successes of our students, and has also made our program one of the strongest and most relevant in Canada. We couldn’t do it without you!
-David Roberts, USP Program Director
What our community partners are saying
Urban Studies students have made significant contributions to TTCriders campaigns for transit justice, affordability, and accessibility. Students contribute their talents to community organizing and civic engagement efforts by organizing public presentations, facilitating meetings, conducting research, connecting with volunteers, and more.
Manager, Economic Development & Policy, Town of Aurora
The Town of Aurora engaged with Innis College at the University of Toronto as part of a partnership in providing meaningful experience for students, while gaining valuable contributions on various strategic initiatives. The students were professional and eager to assist with a variety of projects. We strived to provide tasks and responsibilities that helped to build resumes and portfolios, and that students can be proud to discuss with future employers.
Co-founder, Urban Minds
Within a mere few weeks, our placement students, Sara and Michelle, did a fantastic job creating visual content for our social media campaign. Their work helped to promote the launch of our new youth engagement toolkit, Cities For Youth, and successfully engaged our online audience in fun and interesting ways. Thank you, Sara and Michelle, as well as David and Emily, for this great partnership.