Research Grant Opportunities

Apply now for the Urban Challenge Grants - the deadline for proposals is Nov 7, 2021!


The School of Cities’ initial focus in 2021-2022 is on climate, justice, and cities, and we seek to fund research from different disciplines that crosscut these areas. We invite proposals for grants of up to $75,000 from University of Toronto faculty and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in pursuing policy-relevant research and working with SofC staff to maximize their policy impact. Proposals are due November 7, 2021, with decisions to be made by December 10, 2021.

The School of Cities has established this grant program to support timely data analysis and dissemination to address emerging and/or policy-relevant research questions, as well as to provide seed funding for pilot studies that will likely lead to high-impact research. Participating researchers will meet regularly with the School of Cities research community, engage with external stakeholders, and work closely with School of Cities staff on research dissemination.

2021-22 Focal Theme: Climate, Justice, and Cities

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, simultaneously requiring the transformation of infrastructure, the reconfiguration of financial systems, the mobilization of the electorate, and more. Cities—in their role as incubators of innovation, drivers of the economy, magnets for talent, and birthplace of social movements—are poised to lead the way in both devising and implementing solutions. Yet, the various forms of climate action also have the potential to unleash injustice, i.e., to create disproportionate harm for vulnerable populations. With its remarkable and diverse faculty expertise across its divisions and campuses, the University of Toronto and its School of Cities are poised to lead the national and international conversation about how best to adapt to climate change while promoting inclusion and justice.

Climate, justice, and cities is a theme that spurs research across many different disciplines, including the natural sciences, engineering and technology, urban policy and planning, business, public health, the arts, and the social sciences. Climate scientists are currently researching a wide array of topics related to cities and justice, such as uneven vulnerability to wildfire hazards, the relationship between heatwaves and mortality, the role of urban parks in carbon sequestration, and how climate change disrupts food security. Economists, geographers, and business faculty are exploring issues related to climate justice such as the impacts of temperature fluctuations on labour productivity, the social cost of carbon, a just transition to the green economy, restructuring financial and insurance systems in light of climate risk, and the economics of climate adaptation in the developing world. Faculty in public health, sociology, environmental psychology, and the arts are delving into how place attachment affects the adaptive capacity of communities in the face of climate change, the equity implications of climate mobilities, and the issue of Western culpability. Philosophers, anthropologists, legal and feminist scholars, among others, are examining questions of intergenerational, multispecies, and restorative justice in the context of climate change. Faculty in political science, public policy, planning and other fields study the vulnerability and resilience of communities and their infrastructure. The corpus of research is expanding fast, but barely meeting the needs of a world that must act now.

This call for proposals seeks to fund two types of faculty research initiatives that examine issues of climate, justice, and cities: preliminary work or pilot studies with high-impact potential, or applied research with immediate policy relevance for external stakeholders. Grants will range in size from $10,000 to $75,000. The program will fund a diverse array of research projects across disciplines, and we prioritize proposals with an interdisciplinary focus involving multiple PIs from different disciplines. We are eager to fund work with immediate impact in the Greater Toronto Area, but also encourage proposals that focus on other urban regions across the nation and around the world. We are particularly interested in funding early-career researchers and/or proposals that involve collaborating with and/or mentoring Ph.D. students, as well as projects in disciplines currently underrepresented at the School of Cities. Should funds permit, we will also consider supporting researchers in need of “top up” resources to finish current projects.

Once funded, we expect researchers to engage actively in activities at the School of Cities. Researchers will participate in a biweekly seminar series to discuss each other’s research and hear from guest experts on climate, justice, and cities from around the world. The School of Cities will ask each grantee to attend 1-2 roundtables with external stakeholders working in related areas from the public and nonprofit sectors. We will also offer regular events for grad students and postdoctoral researchers associated with researcher projects. When research interests overlap, we will involve grantees in our other programs at the School, such as our Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Projects, Graduate Student Fellows Program, or Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

The grant period is expected to extend from January 2022 – April 2023, for a total of 16 months. At the conclusion of the grant cycle, the School expects grantees to participate in an international symposium that will showcase the work. We will also work closely with participants to produce policy briefs (750 to 2,000 words) or research briefs (2,000-6,000 words) and in some cases, short videos, for publication on our website. Grantees are expected to share any other publications that result from this grant funding for posting on our website.

Grant applications are due by November 7, 2021, with funding decisions by December 10, 2021. After the deadline, the School of Cities will consider proposals on a rolling basis pending fund availability. We expect to give out up to $500,000 in grants this cycle, with 8-10 small grants ($10,000-$25,000) and 2-3 medium grants ($25,000-$50,000), and 1-2 large grants ($50,000-75,000).