Welcome to Cities@UofT

About UofT’s Urban Expertise:

Urban expertise at the University of Toronto can be viewed through three lenses: Research, Teaching and Engagement.

Cities@UofT showcases the depth and breadth of our urban scholarship throughout each of these realms and more.

About Cities@UofT

Cities@UofT is an initiative of the Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement, and is intended to help address the university’s strategic priority of Leveraging Our Location(s).


Our urban research community includes a multitude of scholars, research labs and institutes.

More than 220 faculty members and researchers at the University of Toronto are engaged in cities-focused research and teaching.

Urban research takes place at each of our three campuses, in areas such as architecture, arts & science, education, law, medicine, public health, and social work, which can be found in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, Faculty of Arts and Science, OISE, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

Examples of research centres include:


UofT offers degree programs related to urban issues at the undergraduate and graduate levels in Applied Science & Engineering, Architecture, Landscape, and Design, City StudiesEducation, Forestry, Geography & Planning, Public Health, Public Policy, Social Work, Urban Studies – and more.  In the Faculty of Arts & Science alone, there are more than 175 undergraduate courses that consider their subject matter through an urban lens.

Each year, thousands of undergraduate University of Toronto students learn and contribute to our city-region through community engaged learning, professional internships, and volunteer efforts that support, for example:

  • Grassroots community-building,
  • Engineering design solutions to address local problems,
  • Harm reduction efforts,
  • Assessments of bike lanes and transportation systems.

Hundreds of our graduate students are enrolled in professional programs and participate in internships, including in the following programs:


Our three Toronto-region campuses are stimulating and energizing places where critical conversations take place on topics that range from challenging questions about race, inclusivity and equity; drawing connections between income, neighbourhood and health; and the relationship between climate change and prospects for urban prosperity.

Public events are held throughout the year including book launches, debates, film screenings, keynote speakers and panel discussions.

 The University of Toronto does its part to promote positive city-building through:

  • Creation of pedestrianized and public spaces
  • Respectful retrofitting of heritage buildings
  • Design and construction of new energy efficient buildings
  • Creation of gathering spaces for students, faculty and community members.

Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement

In her role as Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement, Professor Shauna Brail helps bring greater visibility to the university’s urban research, teaching and outreach activities by working with faculty, staff, and students across the university on urban initiatives. She also connects local government and community partners wishing to engage with the University’s urban expertise.

In addition, she is Director and Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Urban Studies Program and is a Senior Associate in the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs.  Professor Brail holds a BA in Urban Studies/Geography, an MA in Urban Planning and a PhD in Geography.  Prior to joining the University of Toronto, she worked in management consulting and as a senior policy advisor to the Ontario provincial government.

As an economic geographer, her research focuses on the transformation of cities as a result of economic, social and cultural change.

Through the incorporation of experiential learning initiatives in the Urban Studies Program, Professor Brail has placed more than 500 undergraduate students in internships and service learning placements at urban-focused organizations across the city.

The Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement can be reached at urban.advisor@utoronto.ca