Students in the Spotlight - Hikmat Jamal

August 25, 2020 by School of Cities Staff
"Students in the Spotlight" is a conversation series with members of the SofC Student Academy and Urban Leadership Fellowship program.


A racialized student smiling in an outdoor portrait.

  • What are you currently working on? What are your research and engagement interests? 
    I am currently working on a podcast series that focuses on urban issues in the broadest sense in the GTHA. I am recording and interviewing guests on topics such as cycling, public transit, the Waterfront, food security, child poverty, etc., that are timely issues Toronto is grappling with. My goal is to engage Torontonians from all walks of life, not necessarily urban planning geeks, but the average resident, in order to learn more about our city, both in its splendour and its cracks. 
  • What has motivated your interests and journey? How do you hope to make difference?
    Growing up in the GTA for the last 12 years of my life and having moved a few times within Scarborough and Markham, I have seen that this city is really multiple cities. The inequality of services I have seen have pushed me to explore some of these topics and try to shed light on them. One of the biggest I often rant about to anyone who will listen is the underfunding of transit in Scarborough. The podcast looks at these issues and in an act of self-education and sharing information, tries to make this accessible to everyone in this city.

  • What’s the latest project you have been working on and would like to share with the SofC audiences?
    I have spent much of the last few months consulting with mentors, talking to peers, and researching topics and speakers for the podcast. I have begun to record the episodes and schedule interviews for the next month or so and will be releasing the episodes very soon. They will be available under the name “City & Crumpets” and be on Spotify, iTunes, and anywhere else people get their podcasts. I’ll also have them linked to the SofC page for the project. (Listen to the first episode of the podcast below!)

  • As a student, researcher and or activist, what have you learned from the pandemic and its global impact? 
    This pandemic has been an opportunity and a struggle. Whilst it has been difficult adjusting, as I’m sure everyone has experienced, the pandemic is actually one of the reasons I decided on doing a podcast. It’s an ever-more popular way to reach vast audiences remotely. Furthermore, the pandemic has seen cities around the world adopt new measures to respond to the crisis. This has been a dynamic time for urban planning around the world so what better time than now to explore these changes here in Toronto?

  • Please share with us your experiences at the SofC. How do you think being a member of the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Program has contributed to your scholarship and added to your experience as a student? 
    I’ve had the opportunity to work with a really remarkable team of administrators, professors, mentors, and fellow researchers. Even with the academy moving online, having an accessible network has been a massive help and has taught me important lessons on working remotely. I think the experiences with the SofC have given me a glimpse into the world of research at the university level and have helped me make decisions about my own future.

  • Any final words/ message?
    Apart from a shameless plug to check out the podcast and show us some love, I want to encourage everyone to apply to the next iteration of the School of Cities Academy. Whether as a Fellow or an Academy member, it is one of the great things about UofT and it has changed my second-year experience for the better.


Student Bio:

Hikmat Jamal is a second-year student with an interest in urbanism, sustainability, and growth, particularly in the Global South. His education in philosophy and geography equips him with an interdisciplinary approach to urban issues, exploring the ethical and metaphysical assumptions that undergird our cities.