Editor’s note: The following is an open letter signed by 100 members of U of T faculty. The letter was sent to the president of the university, Meric Gertler, and The Varsity on July 20, 2016.

On June 7, 2016 The University of Toronto News published an article entitled, “Parks, planning and public spaces: Toronto can learn lessons from Jerusalem say U of T students.” Reporting on a recent field course that took urban studies students to Jerusalem, the article celebrates the apparently innovative approach the city takes to urban planning, heralding it as a model for Toronto.

We write out of concern for the university media coverage of this course and the image it presents of Jerusalem. The article makes omissions that obscure the deeply unequal and contested nature of urban development in that city. Nowhere does the article address the well-documented demolition of Palestinian homes and expropriation of Palestinian lands that constitute the broader context for urban planning and development in Jerusalem, for instance. Such omissions are glaring given the widespread scholarly engagement with issues of Palestinian dispossession, some from celebrated researchers right here at U of T.

We are troubled by the style of engagement this representation may be establishing for the university partnership. The field trip, led by U of T’s presidential adviser on urban engagement, is ostensibly part of a broader relationship between U of T and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This partnership and parallel ones with universities in Mumbai and Sao Paulo, are central features of U of T’s stated top three priorities.

Urban scholarship, and scholarship more broadly, has a responsibility to investigate and challenge – not passively reproduce – social violence and inequality. The international university partnerships currently being developed with U of T provide a platform through which to extend these principles into a global terrain. With the aim of supporting this possibility, we call on the administration to clarify its own ethics of engagement for its partnerships in cities characterized by radical inequality, and to commit to an open and transparent dialogue with the U of T community about the nature and purpose of these partnerships. We in turn commit to participating constructively in such a dialogue.

Bernd Baldus, Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Daniel Bender, Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC
Katherine Blouin, Associate Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC) and Classics (UTSG)
Roger Beck, Professor Emeritus, Classics and Historical Studies
Joseph Berkovitz, Associate Professor, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Rima Berns-McGown, Lecturer, Historical Studies, UTM
Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Professor, Critical Development Studies, UTSC/ Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Dina Brooks, Professor, Physical Therapy
James Robert Brown, Professor, Philosophy
Meyer Brownstone, Professor Emeritus, Political Science
Aziza Chaouni, Associate Professor, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design
Andrew Clement, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Information
Francis Cody, Associate Professor, Asian Institute and Anthropology, UTM
Rebecca Comay, Professor, Philosophy and Comparative Literature
Deborah Cowen, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning
Lucia Dacome, Associate Professor, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Bianca Dahl, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UTSC
Girish Daswani, Associate Professor, Anthropology
Chandler Davis, Professor, Mathematics
George Dei, Professor, Social Justice, OISE/UT
James Deutsch, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry
Mohammad Fadel, Assoicate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Matthew Farish, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning
Angelica Fenner, Associate Professor, Cinema Studies Institute and German
Peter Fitting, Emeritus, French and Cinema Studies
David Galbraith, Associate Professor, English
Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Associate Professor, Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE
Dina Georgis, Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies Institute
Emily Gilbert, Associate Professor, Canadian Studies and Geography and Planning
Kanishka Goonewardena, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning
Anup Grewal, Assistant Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC
Francesco Guardiani, Professor, Italian Studies
Atiqa Hachimi, Associate Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC
Rick Halpern, Professor, History
Paul Hamel, Professor, Faculty of Medicine
Ju Hui Judy Han, Assistant Professor, Human Geography, UTSC
Jens Hanssen, Associate Professor, History/NMC
Amir Hassanpour, Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations (Em.)
Paul Hess, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning
Sarah Hillewaert, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UTM
Mark Hunter, Associate Professor, Human Geography, UTSC
Kajri Jain, Associate Professor, Visual Studies, UTM
Jennifer Jenkins, Associate Professor, History
Ted Kesik, Professor, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design
Katie Kilroy-Marac, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UTSC
Paul Kingston, Political Science, UTSC
Martin Klein, Professor emeritus, History
Neil ten Kortenaar, Professor, English and Comparative Literature
Nicole Laliberte, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Geography, UTM
Michael Lambek, FRSC, Professor, Anthropology, UTSC
Tania Li, Professor, Anthropology, UTSG
Victor Li, Associate Professor, English and Centre for Comparative Literature
Lance T. McCready, Associate Professor, Leadership, Higher and Adult Education
Amira Mittermaier, Associate Professor, Religion/NMC
Shahrzad Mojab, Prof. Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE
Andreas Motsch, Associate Professor, French
Andrea Muehlebach, Associate Professor, Anthropology
Sanda Munjic, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Kanta Murali, Assistant Professor, Political Science
Valentina Napolitano, Associate Professor, Anthropology, UTSG
Melanie J. Newton, Associate Professor, History
John Noyes, Professor of German
Alejandro Paz, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UTSC
John P. Portelli, Professor, SJE, OISE
Stanka Radovic, Associate Professor, English and Drama, UTM
Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC
Katharine Rankin, Professor, Geography and Planning
Sherene Razack, Professor Emerita, OISE/UT
Denise Reaume, Professor, Faculty of Law
James A. Reilly, Professor, Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
Jean-Paul Restoule, Associate Professor, Aboriginal Education (OISE)
Stephen Rockel, Associate Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC
Nestor E. Rodriguez, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Richard Roman, Associate Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Natalie Rothman, Associate Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC
Susan Ruddick, Professor, Geography and Planning
Najib Safieddine, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery
Nicholas Sammond, Associate Professor, Cinema Studies Institute
Richard Sandbrook, Professor Emeritus, Political Science
Rosa Sarabia, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Manuela Scarci, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Italian Studies
Sarah Schulman, Fellow, Sexual Diversity Studies
Dana Seitler, Associate Professor, English
Jayeeta Sharma, Associate Professor, Historical & Cultural Studies, UTSC
Rachel Silvey, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning
Susan Sim, Lecturer, Faculty of Information
Neera Singh, Assistant Professor, Geography and Planning
Vicki Skelton, Librarian, Centre for Industrial Relations & HR
Gavin Smith, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
Sandy Smith, Professor, Faculty of Forestry
Stefan Soldovieri, Associate Professor, German
Ronald de Sousa, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy
Miguel Torrens, Librarian, Collection Development, UTL
Nhung Tuyet Tran, Associate Professor, History, UTSG
D. Alissa Trotz, Associate Professor, WGSI/Caribbean Studies
Mariana Valverde, FRSC, Professor, Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal Studies
Karina Vernon, Assistant Professor, English, UTSC
Ramón A. Victoriano-Martínez, Language Studies
Sarah Wakefield, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning
Rinaldo Walcott, Associate Professor, OISE
Mel Watkins, Professor Emeritus, Economics
Natalie Zemon Davis, Professor Emeritus, History
John Zilcosky, Professor, German and Comparative Literature