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Undergraduate Program Themes

The City

In a world where over 50 per cent of the population lives in urban areas, cities play a significant role in shaping the social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental conditions of people’s everyday lives.

Cities are intensely heterogeneous places, where flows of people, power, money, information, ideas, commodities, and traffic visibly intersect and find spatial expression in the built landscape.

A critical examination of cities involves investigating the shared characteristics of urban places and the complex ways in which global issues play out and local communities struggle over resources, services, and spaces.

The Geography Department possesses numerous foci on contemporary cities that, taken together, examine the interrelated forces that drive the process of urbanization in cities around the world. These foci include:

  • Gender and immigration in urban and suburban labour markets.
  • Urban ethnic economies.
  • Shopping behaviour and transportation modeling.
  • The application of critical geographical information systems modeling to public service provision
  • Collective community action within neighbourhoods
  • The intricate social and spatial relationships within neighbourhoods, as visible in the dynamics of
    cultural production, creativity, sexuality, and identity politics in inner-cities and suburbs
  • The everyday interactions within and between cities that integrate urban places into systems of world cities
  • The distinct natural and physical systems operating within the built environment.

All of the courses at the undergraduate level encourage students to use films, photographs, novels, and public art as well as the more traditional tools of census data, maps, policy documents, interviews, and survey questionnaires to interpret the built and social landscapes that surround them.

Beginning with courses that provide a foundation in urban, social, and cultural geographies, students can go on to variously examine in greater detail migration patterns, immigrant settlement experiences, contemporary urban planning issues, urban infrastructure development, conflicts over public space provision, and the impact of global digital networks on city form and function.

Students can learn to navigate the world of urban social policy and to think critically about political strategies to create socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable cities.

Those students who follow this course of study will become critically engaged urban citizens with the necessary knowledge to help transform the world in which they live!