Dear City Institute members,
Just a short note as we start the new semester to welcome everyone back to another academic year. While in an apparently continuous state of suspension, with COVID-19 still dictating our modes of interaction, we have taken the decision to continue to hold all our events online for the remainder of this semester. There may be some post-doctoral fellows and other folks occupying their offices, but we will probably not be using the study carrels. As of now our coordinator is occupying her office but this may change as rules around COVID-19 continue to evolve.
I would like to take this opportunity to further thank Dr. William Jenkins (Department of History) for his very able stewardship of the City Institute over the last academic year as Interim Director. And we also welcome Hazel Dizon (York, MA Geography) as the coordinator. Hazel has been in post since this summer and has already become a much appreciated anchor at the City Institute. Welcome Hazel!
Our activities this year started back in August when we held a series of three workshops with Chinese feminist urban scholars from China, North America and Europe on women and urbanization in China. Because of the increased hostility towards feminist activities in China this was not an event to which we could invite the public or even advertise. A publication is in the pipeline though and we keep folks informed on what is a much under researched area in the heavily populated field of Chinese urban studies.
We have a busy semester of events to look forward too. Dr. Luisa Sotomayor will be holding a seminar highlighting the work of her students on the topic of NIMBYism in planning for the siting of dwellings for the homeless. From the GenUrb project, Dr. Elsa Koleth and PhD student and NVivo expert, Biftu Yousuf, will present a workshop on using NVivo in urban research projects. Dr. Joe Mihevc, our True Visitor for the last two years, has continued to work on his project of organizing a City of Toronto and universities and colleges summit, namely the CivicLabTO Summit. This two-day SSHRC funded event (23rd and 24th November) brings together City of Toronto employees, academics, and a range of urban advocates to discuss topics ranging through transportation, the climate crisis, health care, economic development, arts, culture, and technology. The Summit is attached to the upper level undergraduate course that Dr. Mihevc has also organised between the City of Toronto and the GTA four universities (York, U of T, Ryerson and OCAD) and four colleges (Centennial, George Brown, Humber, and Seneca), that we hope will become an annual event. We are immensely proud that this project, which will create a cohort of university and college students across the GTA with first-hand knowledge of the workings of City Hall, has its origins at York University.
And we start the semester with an on-line meeting, moderated by Dr. Patricia Wood, with a range of Toronto luminaries, on the impact of the federal election on the City of Toronto and the GTA. This will take place on Friday September 24th at 4pm. Watch out for the Zoom invite!
We are putting our Meet and Greet into the Winter semester in the hope that we will be able to meet in person. And we hope that the postponed SSHRC-funded Summer Institute in Urban Studies (being held jointly with the University of Toronto and the University of Manchester) will be an in place event based at York in the summer of 2022.
In the meantime, we continue to house and administer a number of SSHRC and other grants on research topics covering feminist comparative urban place making, gendering and decolonializing approaches to urban theory, NIMBYISM, shelters and homelessness in Toronto, governance and data in smart cities, queering Canadian suburbs, the Toronto Charter project, and the Greenway Project on bringing sustainable transport to Toronto’s streets via dedicated greenways and cargo bikes. We also host the Urban Studies undergraduate Toronto Urban Journal (TUJ). Alongside the office of the Associate Vice President of Research we will be exploring the possibility of forming a university wide network of researchers on smart cities. And finally, we have joined the Belgian based research project on Urban Agency, which aims to explore the role of institutional contexts on the nature of interdisciplinary collaboration in the field of urban studies in Europe and North America.
You can find out about these projects, and more, on our website.
I want to thank everyone who contributes to the City Institute community, including our Executive members; in these difficult times we need community. I hope you keep safe and well as we continue to navigate the pandemic and to explore the significance of urban research for some of the most compelling issues of our age.
With all best wishes,