On February 16, U of T Provost Cheryl Regehr announced that the Faculty of Arts & Science’s plans to launch a School of Cities, which would train and cultivate urbanists spanning all disciplines. The decision was inspired by a commitment from U of T President Meric Gertler, who comes from an urban studies background, to increase awareness for urban research at the university.

Plans for the School of Cities have not yet been concretized, with the consultation process beginning this semester and culminating in a draft proposal to create an Extra-Departmental Unit in the fall.

Dr. Joshua Barker, a prominent urbanist in the Department of Anthropology, will be leading the consultation process, along with an advisory committee, including the Deans of the Faculty of Arts & Science, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, and the Rotman School of Management.

The other two U of T campuses are also involved in the consultation and planning process for the school.

“The U of T is fortunate in that we have a critical mass of urbanists in many different disciplines across our three campuses – from the humanities, social sciences and sciences to business, architecture and engineering,” said Barker. “Consulting with them and benefitting from their expertise will be key to ensuring we create a School that will most effectively connect, build upon and leverage our strengths in urban teaching and research.”

The decision to develop the School of Cities comes three years after the U of T Cities Centre was shuttered. It was billed as an administrative decision and its closure was mitigated by its merging into the Global Cities Centre.

While this decision sparked controversy at the time, the Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, who is now on the School of Cities advisory committee, had made a statement emphasizing the university’s continued interest in research geared towards cities and city-building.

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