News & Events


9 July - The Digital Urban Past: Exploring GIS Across the Centuries, 1 - 2:30 PM (ET) via Zoom. Register HERE

With the rise of digital and spatial history within the broader world of digital humanities over the past twenty years, this seminar explores how different types of source materials have been integrated into geographical information system (GIS) databases to illuminate the urban past in new and exciting ways. The City Institute has invited scholars to share their research experiences and insights from projects on the cities of Florence, London, and Rio de Janeiro.​​


Jim Clifford is an associate professor of History at the University of Saskatchewan. He is an environmental and urban historian of Britain, Canada, and the British World during the long nineteenth century. Using digital methods including historical GIS, text mining and augmented reality, his research team has explored industrialization in Greater London and the global commodities in the project London’s Ghost Acres (1850-1919) focused mainly on the intersections between environmental, social and political history. He is the author of West Ham and the River Lea: A Social and Environmental History of London’s Industrialized Marshland, 1839–1914 (2018).

Alida C. Metcalf is Harris Masterson, Jr. Professor of History at Rice University in Houston, USA. She is the author of Family and Frontier in Colonial Brazil (1992; 2005), Go-betweens and the Colonization of Brazil (2005), Mapping an Atlantic World circa 1500 (2020), and, with Eve M. Duffy, The Return of Hans Staden: A Go-between in the Atlantic World (2012). With Farès el-Dahdah she developed the digital humanities project imagineRio, which maps and illustrates the social and urban evolution of Rio de Janeiro from 1500 to the present.

Colin Rose is an assistant professor of History in Brock University. He is an historian of early modern Europe, specifically of northern Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As a social historian, he is concerned with the ways that communities of ordinary Italians managed their day-to-day conflicts and crises, and adapted to new forms of governance and power that emerged with the consolidation of ducal states in the region. He has co-edited Mapping Space, Sense and Movement in Florence: Historical GIS and the Early Modern City (2016), for which he also co-authored three chapters. Colin is currently the co-principal investigator of DECIMA, a GIS mapping tool that allows historians to explore Florence’s evolving urban dynamics.


Sean Kheraj is an associate professor of Canadian and environmental history in the Department of History at York University and associate dean for programs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. His current research looks at the social and environmental consequences of the development and operation of oil pipelines in Canada. He has started with preliminary work on the history of oil pipeline spills in Canada and is now exploring the historical, social, economic, and environmental consequences of on-shore oil spills in Canada. This project is documented on the website “Silent Rivers of Oil: A History of Oil Pipelines in Canada since 1947.” Sean is also director of the Network in Canadian History and Environment where he hosts and produces Nature’s Past, a monthly audio podcast about the environmental history research community in Canada.

This event is presented by City Institute at York University (CITY).


23 June - Envisioning Toronto’s Little Jamaica Cultural District: Prospects and Challenges, 7 - 9 PM (ET) via Zoom. 

Toronto’s Little Jamaica has over the course of more than five decades become the centre of Black Canadian economic, cultural and social expression. In this sense, it can be viewed alongside a host of other ethnic neighbourhoods such as Little Italy, Greektown, Little Portugal, Koreatown, Little India, and others that have together served Toronto’s attempts to market itself as a multicultural metropolis and, at a wider level, Canada’s projection of itself on the world stage as a modern, diverse and welcoming society. The future of this neighbourhood, unique in Black Canadian history, is now uncertain, however. The adverse impacts of ten years of LRT construction, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, have resulted in the displacement of community organizations and more than 100 businesses. More businesses are expected to close their doors within the next twelve months.

A City of Toronto motion passed in October 2020 outlines short, medium, and long-term actions including designating Little Jamaica as Toronto’s first Cultural District. A Cultural District is a novel concept for Toronto and its scope has yet to be defined. With the City having launched the consultation period in which the cultural district concept can be discussed, this webinar will serve as an occasion to explore the substantive potential that the designation of Cultural District holds for Little Jamaica in socioeconomic, cultural, and legal contexts. Place-makers and community builders in Little Jamaica were invited to engage with those who have been involved in similar initiatives elsewhere, to learn from their successes, mistakes, and seek recommendations on next steps.

(Click image for the recorded event)

Speakers included Cheryll Case (founder & principal urban planner, CP Planning), Alica Hall (Executive Director, Nia Centre for the Arts), Kofi Hope (Co-founder & CEO, Monumental), Carolyn Johnson (CEO, Black Cultural Zone Community Development Corporation), and Rosemarie Powell (Executive Director, Toronto Community Benefits Network).

Josh Matlow, city councillor for Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul's, gave his response on the issue.

Journalist Royson James moderated the discussion, while Prof. Jeffrey Squire of City Institute hosted the event.

The event was co-presented by the City Institute of York University and Black Urbanism TO and sponsored by York University Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies through the Anti-Black Racism Initiatives Fund.


10 June - Book Launch of Jacqueline McLeod Rogers' "McLuhan’s Techno-Sensorium City: Coming to Our Senses in a Programmed Environment" 3-4:30 PM (ET) via Zoom

The City Institute at York University and Institute for Research on Digital Literacies (IRDL) co-presented the book launch of Jacqueline McLeod Rogers' McLuhan’s Techno-Sensorium City: Coming to Our Senses in a Programmed Environment published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2020.

Marshall McLuhan’s active engagement with the vibrant art and urban design culture of his day drew links between media, technology, space, architecture, art, and cities. McLeod Rogers examines how McLuhan’s influence continues to inform current urban and art criticism and practices.

Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Ph.D is a Canadian writer, editor, and researcher and professor of rhetoric, writing and communications at the University of Winnipeg. McLeod Rogers is a published author. Many of her publications address writing strategies and ethics, and she is a recognized as a leading scholar in studies of Marshall McLuhan.

Featured respondents were University of Toronto's Arun Jacob and City Institute Visiting Scholar Negin Minaei, Ph.D .


27 May - EDITED BY: A Virtual Workshop on Editing Collections in Urban Studies

The City Institute invited Drs. Laam Hae, Roza Tchoukaleyska, and Douglas Young to share their experience and expertise in conceptualizing and producing scholarly collections in urban studies, both in book and journal formats.

Laam Hae is an Associate Professor at the Department of Politics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University.  She has recently co-edited On the Margins of Urban South Korea: Core Location as Method and Praxis (University of Toronto Press, 2019).

Roza Tchoukaleyska is an Assistant Professor at the Environment and Sustainability Program, School of Science and the Environment at Memorial University. She has co-edited three special-issue journals: “Climate change knowledge translation” (2021) in the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, 13(3), “Public space beyond the city centre: Suburban and periurban dynamics” (2019) in Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 28(1). and “Placing planetary urbanization in other fields of vision” (2018) in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36(3).

Douglas Young is an Associate Professor at the Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University.  He has co-edited two books: In-between Infrastructure: Urban Connectivity in an Age of Vulnerability (Praxis (e) Press, 2010) with Patricia Wood and Roger Keil and Socialist and Post-Socialist Urbanisms: Critical Reflections from a Global Perspective (University of Toronto Press, 2020) with Lisa Drummond.


14 April - Book Launch & Panel Discussion of "In the Suburbs of History: Modernist Visions of the Urban Periphery" by Steven Logan

On the occasion of the publication of Steven Logan's In the Suburbs of History, this book launch brought Logan in conversation with The Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic and Radical Suburbs author Amanda Kolson Hurley. Professor Roger Keil, editor of the Global Suburbanisms book series moderated the event.



In the Suburbs of History challenges the divisions between East and West and in doing so reassembles the shared histories of modern architecture and urbanism as it shaped and re-shaped the periphery of cities in the 20th century. Drawing on archives, interviews, architectural journals, and site visits to the peripheries of Prague and Toronto, Logan reveals the intertwined histories of capitalist and socialist urban planning. Examining socialist utopias and capitalist visions of the edge city, Logan shows that the history of the suburbs is not simply a history of competing urban forms; rather, it is a history of alternatives that sought out collective solutions over the dominant model of single-family home ownership and car-dominated spaces.

Steven Logan is adjunct faculty and 2021/2022 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Communication, Culture, and Information Technology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga.

The event was hosted by City Institute at York University and co-presented by Global Suburbanisms  and University of Toronto Press.


29 March - Art, Design, and Climate Justice (2:30-4:15 PM)

This public dialogue brought together a dynamic group of artist-scholars from different international sites (Canada, New Zealand, UK) to reflect the intersection of art, design, and public space, and explore how artists can play key roles in imagining sustainable cities. It was the first event in the 2021 Design Justice Speaker Series, which explored how design can challenge social inequities, empower marginalized communities, and engage in worldbuilding that supports cultural and ecological survival. See the program here.


The event was co-presented by York University's School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology, Institute for Research on Digital Literacies, CITY Institute, and Glendon Communications Programme.




December 8 - The CITY Institute at York University was proud to present Global Diseases & Resistance Networks in Olympic Cities   Featuring Spike Freidman (LA 2028),  Dr. Itani Satoko (Tokyo 2020), Dr. Laura Murray (Rio 2016), and Dr. Christine O'Bonsawin (Vancouver 2010).  Moderated by Dr. Amanda De Lisio

Open Access Reference List (click here)


November 19 - Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, in partnership with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, and the City Institute presented Municipal Governance and the Future of Housing. featuring Kristyn Wong-Tam, City Councillor and Member, Planning and Housing Committee, City of Toronto; Craig Sauvé, City Councillor and Associate Member, Executive Committee for Housing, City of Montréal; Cheryll Case, Principal Urban Planner and Founder, CP Planning; Martine August, Assistant Professor, School of Planning, University of Waterloo; and Grayson Alabiso-Cahill, Law Student, University of Toronto and Volunteer, Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations

Moderated by Joe Mihevc, Visiting Professor, City Institute, York University and Former Toronto City Councillor.


October 22 - The Glendon School of Public and International Affairs hosted the seminar - The Right to Home: Housing Affordability in Toronto featuring panelists: Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie, Dr. Nemoy Lewis and Scott Leon.


October 9 - The CITY Institute at York University was proud to present Covid-19 and the City: Centres and Peripheries featuring: Harris Ali, York University; Samantha Biglieri, Ryerson University; and Roger Keil, York University.