As part of its mission, the School of Cities Student Fellowship Award provides a forum for urban-focused interdisciplinary and collaborative learning.
SofC Student Fellows are current U of T students with a strong interest in and passion for urban issues and critical challenges and are leading an innovative and impactful project this term. Meet our 2020 Fellows:
Program of Study: Physical and Environmental Geography and African Studies
Project Title: Urbanization and Climate Resilience in Nairobi
Project Presentation:Mohamed Ali (2019). Urbanization and Climate Resilience in Nairobi. A research presentation. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
Mohamed Ali is a 4th-year undergraduate student at Victoria College with double majors in Physical and Environmental Geography and African Studies, with a minor in Political Science. His research interests include urban issues, their intersections with climate and energy science and policy, and inequality in the African context. He has been the Social Equity Committee Chair of the City of Edmonton Youth Council and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton. Outside of school, his interests include creative writing, involving himself in community work, and enjoying his summers back home in Edmonton, Alberta.
Program of Study: Environmental Studies, German and French
Project Title: Toronto to Vauban
Project Presentation:Savannah Bein (2019). Toronto to Vauban. A research presentation. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
An undergraduate student majoring in Environmental Studies with two minors in both French and German, Savannah has a keen interest in sustainability topics and urban settings. She is originally from Toronto, Ontario but has spent the summer doing an internship in Freiburg, Germany. In Freiburg, you would find Vauban, a small neighbourhood in which you could find one of the world's top models for a sustainable city, which she has focused her School of Cities research on.
Freiburg is a small city in south-west Germany, within Freiburg lies a niche neighbourhood called Vauban, which is one of the world's top models of a sustainable city. Vauban was built in the 1990s off of former french military barracks and was reinvented into a dense but green living space, with a high quality of life that inhabits more than 5,500 people and provides more than 600 jobs. The project Toronto to Vauban was to create a podcast, highlighting all the different features of what makes the city so sustainable talking about, mobility/green transportation, solar energy, water retention and waste management strategies as well as equity and community in Vauban.
Program of Study: Indigenous Studies, Diaspora & Transnational Studies and Women & Gender Studies
Project Title: Breaking Up with Bad Activism
Julia Louise Giraudi is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto obtaining a bachelor's degree in Women and Gender studies, Diasporic and Transnationalism studies, and Indigenous studies. She is a female-identifying Filipinx-Canadian. Her research interests include Filipinx identity creation, varying methods of activism, and Indigenous and Non-Indigenous relationships.
This project is centered around identifying, discussing, and improving activism habits. In each episode, Julia discusses certain topics with Indigenous and Non-Indigenous colleagues. The first episode concerns land acknowledgements. Sonam Chokey, Jessica Sherk and Julia problematize the current utilization of land acknowledgments and discuss ways to improve them. This project is meant to help organizations and people working towards reconciliation better understand reconciliation as an active resistance towards settler-colonialism.
Program of Study: Human Biology and Animal Physiology
Project Title: Re-thinking Urban Parks in Toronto: How Can We Make Them Better
Hodan is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. With a passion for health and health promotion, she values the importance of having a sustainable and equitable city. A sustainable city is a city that is going to improve the health and wellbeing of all its citizens and be a place where individuals feel like they belong. She currently works for Health and Wellness at UofT trying to improve the community on campus to become more inclusive and represent the voices that aren’t heard. She hopes she can do the same for the city of Toronto through the School of Cities.
Program of Study: Human Biology: Global Health and Peace, Conflict & Justice
2019 Project Presentation: Rushay Naik (2019). RENEWAL: Adapting Global Urban Infrastructure for the City of Tomorrow. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
2020 Project Presentation: Rushay Naik (2020). Geneva: The “Infrastructure” of Peace? Toronto, CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.pdf
Rushay is an undergraduate student double-majoring in Human Biology - Global Health and Peace, Conflict & Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Recently named a Global Scholar by the University of Toronto, Rushay is leading research projects centred on addressing global challenges through interests in health, politics, and technology. As a project researcher with the Munk School's Reach Project on inclusive development, Rushay is completing an investigation a World Bank solar electrification project for rural nomadic herders in Mongolia. In addition to his School of Cities fellowship on revitalizing aging urban infrastructures, he is currently developing an independent thesis, contextualizing Geneva as the "infrastructure" of international peacemaking amid the changing nature of global armed conflict. Previously, he was a 2018-2019 International Fellow of the Center for the Study of the Presidency & the Congress in Washington, D.C., evaluating legislative pathways to American universal healthcare.
Global cities today face a confluence of forces. Urbanization and growth are leading to gridlock. Water and waste systems are approaching capacity. Sprawl is consuming valuable green space. Climate change and pollution threaten the health of urban residents. Technology is re-orienting how people relate to their city. The future is shaping how cities are changing. But every city's built form is the consequence of its past - infrastructure developed the city of today. Can it do more for the city of tomorrow?
RENEWAL, by Rushay Naik, is exploring how cities around the world are taking on the challenge of aging and under-utilized infrastructure, and adapting the old to support the new. Sample initiatives investigated in RENEWAL include:
- Atlanta's BeltLine project, converting old railway corridors to new transit and green spaces – as industry departs from this corridor, the new mobility options and spaces will pivot neighbourhoods toward the corridor, and stitch them together in an effort to reduce sprawl and sustainably intensify along development nodes.
- LinkNYC, turning New York's phone booths into high-tech public space – as fixed communication links become obsolete, converting old payphone booths into public WiFi hotspots animates underutilized spaces and mobilizes city services in the digital sphere.
- London's decommissioned Battersea Power Station, unlocking new development and affordable housing – as coal and non-renewable power sources fall along the wayside, Battersea is reimagining the river and nearby transport links for their urban qualities, to support the housing needs of a rapidly-growing, services-based economy.
With over a dozen projects explored, RENEWAL develops unique insights into global cities as they physically transition for a changing world. Following the publishing of the RENEWAL Global Report, the project will turn home towards Toronto, with a photography installation to challenge narratives on the infrastructure crisis, and present opportunities for a more resilient city.
Program of Study: Industrial and Business Engineering
Project Title: Pads Wise Project
Project Presentation: Antony Ndugi (2019). Pads Wise Project. A project presentation. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto
Antony's deep interest in social innovation has been his drive since 6 years ago when he started the “Human Waste Bioreactor” project in Kenya. This interest solidified and inspired his choice of Industrial Engineering undergraduate program "to develop efficient, low cost and human-centered designs" to solve local problems. Antony's main focus is African urbanization, uplifting the urban poor through support to education. His Pads Project for school girls in Mathare Slums of Nairobi, Kenya is part of his social engagement and contribution to education.
Pads Wise is a community-based organization that formed out of the pressing need to help girls stay in school during their menstruation days. Period poverty affects 30-40% of girls in Kenya who miss school due to lack of access to sanitary towels (Huru international). The girls missing school are at risk of falling behind in classwork, and their out of school increases their vulnerability to sexual exploitation and adult poverty in future especially if they drop out of school. Pads Wise Project aims to produce affordable sanitary towels at a price ceiling of Ksh.32 ($0.32 USD) for a packet of 8 pads. First, we want to set up a sanitary towels production unit operated by women. The women will manufacture the pads from scratch, to make commercial quality products that can compete with superior brands in the market. The produced pads will be further supplied to women self-groups at production cost, who can sell them at a small margin, to earn extra income.
Program of Study: Urban Studies, Political Science and Anthropology
Project Title: Toronto Past, Today, Tomorrow: Re-remembering Settler-Colonialism in Canada
Project Presentation:Project Presentation: Heeho Ryu (2019). Toronto Past, Today, Tomorrow: Re-remembering Settler-colonialism in Toronto and Canada. A project presentation. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
A recent graduate from the Faculty of Arts & Science, Heeho received an Honours Bachelor of Arts with Double Majors in Political Science and Urban Studies and a Minor in Anthropology. During their time at UofT Heeho was the President of the Anthropology Course Union, a Student Assistant for the Faculty Registrar's Office, a Work-Study Assistant at the Centre for Indigenous Studies, a Mentor and Volunteer at Caffiends, and a Research Fellow at the School of Cities. Currently, they are working full-time in order to gain professional experience before enrolling in a Master's program. Heeho's research interests focus on how marginalized groups practice human agency within unequal structural settings for their physical and symbolic survival, resistance, and reclamation. Their other topics of interest include equity, social justice, urban policy, environmental conservation, indigenous activism, diaspora studies, and online-virtual spaces.
The City of Toronto owns and operates 10 Historic Museums throughout the Metropolitan Toronto Area. The "Toronto Past, Today, Tomorrow" project examines how these tourist sites construct an idealized version of Toronto's history and identity through the processes of selection and exclusion, and thus how such tourist sites reflect the existing sociopolitical power dynamics of settler-colonialism in Canada. Furthermore, this project refers to works from Indigenous scholarship in order to discuss how the act of remembering is an active process that reflects the values and beliefs of our present institutions, and finally how the way we remember Canada's past affects our present and future identities as urban residents in Canada.
Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie
Program of Study: Urban Studies and Political Science
Project Title: Creating Equitable and Inclusive ‘Smart’ Communities: A Cross-Jurisdiction Analysis and Evaluation of North American and European Case Studies
Project Presentation:On-going empirical research, stay tuned for more!
Keisha is an undergraduate student specializing in Urban Studies and majoring in Political Science at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus. She is currently the Co-President of the Urban Studies Student Union (URSSU) and a research assistant at Social Planning Toronto. Working to create a more equitable Toronto through inclusive city-building and place-making practices, Keisha was previously the Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Housing Lead for the Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC). On behalf of Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, she recently had the privilege of travelling to European and North American cities as a Sidewalk Toronto Fellow and has previous work experience in the Ontario Cabinet’s Executive Council Office.
Program of Study: Public Policy and City Studies (UTSC)
Project Title: Building Inclusive Cities — A Suburban Perspective
Hazelmae is a city builder passionate about community building and engagement, using human-centered design for social change. Currently, she is in her final year of undergraduate studies in Public Policy and City Studies studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough and focuses on building accessible cities for everyone in terms of design+accessibility, diversity and participation. Hazelmae proudly calls Scarborough her home, and connects her work back to the community as a co-founder of Innovate Youth Scarborough an upcoming youth hub focused on the re-envisioning of Scarborough through community building and collaborative placemaking. In the past, she has worked with CivicSpark engaging youth across Ontario through case competitions discussing pressing urban issues in GTHA such as transportation, housing and environmental sustainability, in addition to different capacities within the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, Elections Ontario, and the City of Toronto. Hazelmae is driven by her passion for building a more inclusive city that engages diverse communities and voices.
Program of Study: Master's of Public Policy
As a current Master’s of Public Policy Candidate at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and a Bachelor of Kinesiology graduate from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Lamia is a passionate, experienced and knowledgeable student leader within the community of scholars and leaders at the University of Toronto. Her primary policy interest pertains to Indigenous relations at the intersection of urban policy and social policy. Through her fellowship at the School of Cities, Lamia will be examining urban Indigeneity and the health outcomes of Indigenous women represented within Toronto’s homeless population. At the core of the project Lamia is proposing entitled Ogimaakwe, prominent female leaders in the field of Indigenous health will incorporate traditional Indigenous knowledge to enable Indigenous women to engage with physical activity, personal development and mindfulness programming.
Program of Study: JD/MBA, Law and Business Administration
Project Title: Guidelines for an Equitable Approach to Smart City Transformation
Project Presentation:Ramz Aziz (2019). Guidelines for an Equitable Approach to Smart City Transformation. Toronto: CA. School of cities, University of Toronto.
A passionately curious Pakistani-Canadian, Ramz Aziz is a fourth-year JD/MBA student leader at the University of Toronto dedicated to building more inclusive and prosperous communities. He enjoys tackling societal issues – namely, poverty alleviation, housing insecurity, and healthcare - through an interdisciplinary lens. As an organizer, Ramz has led rights-based advocacy campaigns with numerous non-profits to address chronic homelessness. As a researcher for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and the International Human Rights Clinic, he has examined the effectiveness of policy interventions on access to justice for low-income tenants, and protections for migrant workers in Canada. Through the Creative Destruction Lab, Ramz is exploring how technology can help build more equitable cities. In his spare time, he indulges in foreign films and hiking with his partner and two young children.
In the context of rapid urbanization, major cities worldwide are bracing for the next generation of technologies that promise to make them more livable, workable and sustainable. Yet, the benefits and costs of these technologies, such as artificial intelligence and 5G networks, may not be distributed fairly or equitably. This project consists of a review of best practices and models employed in leading smart cities across the globe, providing insights for inclusive design and equitable policy frameworks for Toronto in its own smarty city transformation. Ultimately, an equitable framework is rooted in the best possible alignment between public and private sector incentives.
Program of Study: PhD in Social Justice Education; collaborative specialization in Indigenous Health
Rebecca Beaulne-Stuebing (Naawakwegiizhigookwe) is a Red River Metis Anishinaabekwe of the bald eagle clan and 1st Degree Midewiwin in the Three Fires Midewiwin lodge. Rebecca currently teaches at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, Algoma and York universities, and is pursuing a PhD in Social Justice Education and Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto.
Mashkiki gitigaanan supported Indigenous community members at the University of Toronto, and more broadly across the city, to develop knowledge and skills around planting, growing, harvesting, and using traditional medicines from an Anishinaabe perspective.
Jennifer Chau Tran
Program of Study: Master's of Landscape Architecture
Project Title: The Wastebelt: Incorporating Energy Production and Waste Management into Toronto
Jennifer Chau Tran is a Master of Landscape Architecture student at the John H. Daniels Faculty, having completed her undergraduate degree in Art History and Earth Science at the University of Toronto. She is interested in using design to create restorative and ecologically resilient landscapes in urban settings. She is excited to apply her interdisciplinary background to landscape design.
Wherever there is development, there is waste. In order to deal with the energy production and waste management requirements of neighbourhoods in Toronto, this project explores the possibility of incorporating sustainable methods of energy production and waste management into the fabric of Toronto in attempts to address the declining presence of industry in Toronto's shifting employment maps.
Program of Study: PhD in English and Diaspora & Transnational Studies
Project Title: Scarborough Studies Collective Zine Making Series
Project Presentation: Niyosha Keyzad (2019). Scarborough Studies Collective. A research presentation. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
Niyosha is a current PhD Candidate at the Department of English and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. Her doctoral work focuses on memoirs of the Iranian diaspora, literature of exile and displacement, and theories of space and identity. She has previously served as the Founding President of the Race and Ethnicity Caucus of the University of Toronto Graduate Students' Union, and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee at Massey College, where she is a Junior Fellow. Niyosha currently teaches at the Department of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough. To learn more visit the project website.
The Scarborough Studies Collective will be hosting a series of workshops, which will be open to the public. The purpose of the series is to have the community self-publish a body of Scarborough-centred narratives, which will be launched at a zine fest and compiled into a zine library that will be exhibited across the UTSC campus and Scarborough community. The purpose of the series is to have the community self-publish a body of Scarborough-centred narratives, which will be launched at a zine fest and compiled into a travelling library that can be exhibited across the UTSC community.
Program of Study: Master's of Planning
Project Title: Red Embers: Power through Art
Project Presentation: Vanessa Kiley (2019). Red Embers: Power through Art. A research project. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
Vanessa is in her second year of the Masters of Sciences in Planning Program at the University of Toronto. Growing up in a small town on Vancouver Island that is also home to British Columbia's largest Band, she was surrounded by Indigenous art and there was a distinct sense of what the area was like pre colonialism. After moving to Toronto, she quickly noticed the lack of Indigenous placemaking and art in our City. Partnering with Red Embers, a team of Indigenous artists, Vanessa has been researching and writing about why we need more Indigenous public art and how to make that process work within the City of Toronto. She is very appreciative of the School of Cities for funding her research and whole-heartedly supporting her work.
Red Embers transformed Allan Gardens in downtown Toronto. For the first time in the city's history, monumental art by Indigenous womxn artists was displayed for free to the public. The banners were created in Toronto and across Canada by commissioned artists and floated from 13 tall charred-black gates throughout the park. Two of the banners faced the Victorian-era glass Palm House, while the others straddled the major pathways of the park, allowing visitors to admire them from all directions and walk below them. Vanessa's work focused on the process of implementing this exhibit and why this project has been considered so successful in a time where implementing Indigenous art in the City of Toronto is deeply challenging.
Joanna Kocsis and Rebecca McMillan
Program of Study: Joanna- PhD student, Planning; Rebecca - PhD student, Human Geography
Project Title: Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership(UCRSEA)
Project Presentation: Joanna Kocsis and Rebecca McMillan (2019). Bridging the Knowledge to Policy Gap. A research presentation. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
Joanna Kocsis is a participatory research methods specialist and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her research has inquired into the nternational development project from many angles, ranging from the learning practices of large international grantmakers, to the role of affect in the lived experiences of marginalized urban youth. Generally, her work focuses on helping to empower members of vulnerable communities through ransformative, participatory research, by offering opportunities for reflection, capacity development and social learning. Kocsis worked at the International Development Research Centre in 2012 and 2014 and as the Evaluation Specialist for the UCRSEA Partnership since 2014.
A PhD Candidate in Geography, Rebecca is interested in urban governance in the global South, particularly in contexts of political economic and environmental change. Her graduate research has examined citizen participation in urban water management in informal settlements in Caracas, Venezuela. Rebecca is a research assistant with the Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership and has taught Urbanization and Development at UTSC. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies and an MA in International Development and has professional experience at the intersection of environment and development. Her Academic honours include the Canada Graduate Scholarship and the IDRC Doctoral Award.
Urbanization in Southeast Asia is a transformative process driven by regionalization, economic development and post-conflict social transformation. This unique process of urbanization creates complex vulnerabilities for many urban residents, especially the urban poor. This rapid and unplanned growth of cities intersects with climate change to produce challenges that urban governments and civil society are ill-prepared to face. While research is helping us to better understand these changes and their consequences, there remains a gap between the development of knowledge and its use for policy. Some researchers have begun to engage policymakers in knowledge co-production, in search of evidence that is more useful for policy decisions. However, even where there is political will, policymakers often lack the capacity to respond to this knowledge, and researchers often do not have the skills, time, or resources to support policymakers' learning. This project worked with researchers in the Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership to address this gap. Drawing on UCRSEA partners' research findings, and their assessment of their policy stakeholders' knowledge needs, we have developed a series of empirically-informed curriculum modules on urban climate change resilience for the researchers to use in their engagement with policy and civil society stakeholders. The modules "along with a training guide and webinar" are being made available as an open-access resource that can be adapted to different users' needs.
Program of Study: Master's of Sustainability Management (UTM)
Project Title: Evaluating and Redefining the Health of the Canadian Health Care System in a Changing World: How Youth can Help Build Sustainable and Healthy Communities in Canada
Linxi is a daughter, sister, best friend, Albanian-Canadian, student, and above all, a complex, unapologetic and proud woman. She is currently pursuing a MSc. Sustainability Management, focusing on applying the learnings from this degree to the field of healthcare. She believes that sustainability is the capacity to endure over time and healthcare is the field that aims to maintain and improve health. Her passion for equality and change has led her to work with uOttawa, the University of Toronto, the United Way, SickKids Hospital, and the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care. Linxi hopes to keep learning about how to better use her voice and platform to ensure that we work towards a future that is inclusive, representative and empathetic.
Program of Study: MASc in Civil Engineering
Project Title: Circular Toronto
Adrien is currently working towards an M.A.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering, with a research focus on sustainable infrastructure and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions in the construction sector. His interests in infrastructure and urban studies go far beyond technical engineering aspects, hence his involvement with the School of Cities. He is fascinated with urban systems and governance, particularly with regards to how we can continue to make cities more sustainable and equitable for all those who reside in them.
Adrien's project focused on promoting the concept of a Circular Economy in Toronto. More specifically creating a platform (circulartoronto.com) for enabling collaboration between community members involved in this socio-economic movement and introducing the movement to the general public. The circular economy as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has three main principles: Designing out waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use; and regenerating natural systems.
Program of Study: Master's of Urban Planning
Project Title: Challenging the Status Quo through Productive "Disruption"
Igor is currently pursuing his graduate degree in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto after completing his B.A. focusing on Urban Studies/Geography at the University of Toronto, through Trinity College. He has worked on many successful events, conferences, and special projects leveraging his experience with accessibility and his skills with people. He is a Junior Fellow Massey College, a Rotman Citylab Fellow, Past-Chair of the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership and Past Governor on Governing Council.
Igor currently works with the City of Toronto Transportation Services - Autonomous Vehicles as a consultant and volunteers on the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) for the TTC, Student for Barrier-Free Access (Vice-Chair) and sits on the Faculty of Arts and Science Council (Vice-Chair). He currently represents Graduate Students, focusing on removing financial barriers to education, improving mental health supports on campus, and prioritizing the needs of disabled students.
Program of Study: PhD in Anthropology
Project Title: Toronto Smart City: A Future in the Present
Project Presentation:Jessika Temblay and Frans Ari Prasetyo (2019) The Harbour City that Never Was… and the Smart City that May (Never) Become. A research report. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.
Jessika is a PhD candidate in socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto, where she is completing her dissertation about a “cyber village” in urban Indonesia. She is the cofounder of the Urban Ethnography Lab, an international and interdisciplinary collaboration between the U of T, Humboldt University and Harvard. Jessika is the coordinator of the Ethnography Lab, where she manages events and projects about ethnographic methods in academic and non-academic settings. Her research interests are urban and digital anthropology, development, and the anthropology of Java, focusing on how urban dwellers encounter and use digital technologies to improve their lives.