Professor Karim Malik joins department

We are pleased to welcome Professor Karim Malik!

Professor Malik is interested in teaching courses such as GIS, spatial analysis, spatial statistics and remote sensing. In his teaching, he emphasizes spatio-temporal thinking as this is crucial to understanding spatial patterns and processes driving terrestrial change. His research revolves around the application of computer vision methods to detect and quantify change. It also focuses on how to integrate traditional spatial pattern comparison and change detection methods in GIS/GScience with machine learning methods. He has successfully applied computer vision tools to characterize changes in snow patterns over the Northwest Territories and to detect gold placer mining disturbances in Yukon, Canada.


Professor Ron Buliung to give keynote at the BRI Research Symposium on Elevating and Expanding Childhood Disability Research

Professor Ron Buliung will give the Mickey Milner International Professorship keynote lecture at the Bloorview (Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital) Research Institute’s annual research symposium on Monday, November 15, 2021. In his address, “Will this place always be like this?”, Ron uses stories from his family’s everyday life and his research in a discussion centred on the problematic absence of disability justice; the giant chasm between “human rights” and lived experience. The professorship sponsor, Dr. Mickey Milner, is a pioneer in the field of childhood disability. He had an illustrious career as a scientist, professor, entrepreneur, and advocate for children and youth with disability. Upon his retirement, a fund was set up to host a scientist of international stature each year in Dr. Milner’s honour.

Bloorview’s annual symposium showcases the research of our trainees and scientists in the area of childhood disability. The day long program includes research talks, quick hit sessions (rapid fire presentations lasting two minutes), a lived experience keynote (the client and family perspective), breakout sessions, and an artistic performance. Past lecturers have included, among others, Roberta Woodgate (University of Manitoba), David Nicholas (University of Calgary), Susan Harris (UBC), Deb Stewart (McMaster), Michael Merzenich (UCSF), Rob Imrie (King’s College, London), James Patton (Northwestern U & Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly Rehab Institute of Chicago), and Christine Imms (Sydney, Australia).

Click here to register for this year’s BRI Research Symposium

The Black Graduate Scholar Award in Geography & Planning

In partnership with the University of Toronto Black Research Network, Graduate Geography & Planning is pleased to announce The Black Graduate Scholar Award in Geography & Planning, developed to provide funding support for Black graduate student scholars working broadly in the areas of geography or planning and social justice.

The Black Research Network (BRN) is an Institutional Strategic Initiative that represents University of Toronto Black-identified faculty, librarians, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. With its official launch Friday, October 8, 2021 the network plans to build connections with Black communities outside of the university, and hold space for non-Black colleagues to addressing anti-Black racism (cited from event page).

As our department works on our commitments to stand up against anti-Black racism, including institutionalized racism in the fields of geography and planning, we are grateful for this partnership with the BRN and the opportunity to support research led by Back graduate students.

Graduate students across the tri-campus in Geography and Planning who identify as Black are eligible to apply for the award. One annual award of $5,000 is available for a Black doctoral student enrolled in our Geography or Planning doctoral programs whose dissertation research aligns with the focus of this award. A second annual award of $5,000 is available for a Masters student in Geography (M.A. or M.Sc.) or a Planning student (M.Sc.Pl) whose research or current issues paper (CIP) aligns with the focus of this award.

To apply for the award, please complete the Online Application Form by the deadline on October 21st, 4:30pm ET. Students will be notified of the application results by November 2021.

Truth & Reconciliation Day: Statement & Reading List

Today, September 30th, 2021, is Orange Shirt Day, a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project, envisioned in 2013 by Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins. This day serves to commemorate the residential school experience, to honour the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. As of this year, the day has been declared as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

In honour of this day, alongside the programming organized by the university and other departments, we, as geographers and planners, offer a reflection on truth and reconciliation specific to our field:

Land and place are central to the study of geography and planning.
Land and place are central to reconciliation.

As geographers and planners, we must contend with the reality that our disciplines have their roots in colonialism; that the acts of mapping, surveying, dividing land, and defining place were all used, and continue to be used, as tools of violence against Indigenous people. Still, Indigenous geographies have and always will exist, in refusal and resistance to these colonial practices. Furthermore these tools can be dismantled and better methods and approaches can bring to light the geographies that sought to be hidden (see, for example the native land mapping project).

To reflect on this – to act to reconcile, repair, and return what was taken – is not something that can be done in one day, but rather must become a part of everyday knowledge and practice. This is ongoing work. To encourage it, we share the following writing by Indigenous scholars (some in collaboration with settler scholars) who expose colonial violence and center Indigenous geographies:

Alexandra Lambropoulos launches podcast exploring urban initiatives across the African continent

MScPl Student Alexandra Lambropoulos has launched Urban Limitrophe, a podcast exploring diverse initiatives happening in cities across the African continent (and occasionally the diaspora) to creatively solve problems, support their communities, create vibrant urban spaces, and build better cities overall. She post episodes on a monthly basis that feature interviews with various guests who are working to change the future of their cities and tackle critical urban issues like food insecurity and waste management.

This project is co-sponsored with the Department of Geography & Planning and The School of Cities through the Outreach & Engagement Small Grant Fund.

To stay updated about upcoming episodes please visit and follow the podcast on social media @urbanlimitrophe 



Graduate Orientation Schedule – Fall 2021

Check your email accounts for updates and changes! There are many orientation events happening across campus. Keep an eye out for the Gradlife emails and the GSU Digest forwarded by our GSU representatives.

Orientation events will be held via zoom on Thursday, September 2nd and Friday, September 3rd, 2021.

Day 1: Thursday September 2nd, 2021

Time: 11:00am-12:00pm

The Orientation to the Orientation hosted by GGAPSS Orientation Committee

This will be the first time we all meet! We will cover brief rounds of introductions and what to expect from your 2-day orientation, set up the shared technology we will use for questions, how to contact us, and what to expect from each other over the course of your orientation.

Time: 1:00pm – 2:35pm

Faculty Welcome Session for Incoming Graduate Students (Attendance: students, faculty and staff)


Ron Buliung, Graduate Chair (Tri-campus)

Scott Prudham, Associate Chair, Graduate Geography

Katharine Rankin, Associate Chair, Director Program in Planning

Thembela Kepe, Chair, Human Geography UTSC (Undergraduate)

Yuhong He, Chair, Geography, Geomatics and Environment UTM (Undergraduate)

Richard DiFrancesco, Chair, Geography and Planning STG (Undergraduate)

Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society (GGAPSS) (Attendance: students, faculty and staff)

Graduate Student Union (GSU) Introduction (Attendance: students, faculty and staff)

Mental Health Services (Attendance: students, faculty, staff)

Donovan Taplin

Accessibility Services (Attendance: students, faculty and staff)

Hannah W. Jackson (On Location Accessibility Advisor)

SGS Program Coordinator (Attendance: students, faculty, staff)

Liam O’Leary

Time: 3:00pm -5:00pm

Human Geography

MA & PhD Program and Faculty Introduction (Attendance: students, faculty)

Presenter: R. Buliung

Time: 3:00pm -5:00pm

Physical Geography

MSc & PhD Program and Faculty Introduction (Attendance: students, faculty)

Presenters: Y. He & D.  Harvey

Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm


MScPl & PhD Planning Program and Faculty Introduction.

Explaining MSc Pl concentrations: session with concentration advisors (Attendance: Planning students, faculty)

Presenters: K. Rankin, S. Ruddick, J. Spicer, P. Hess, M. Siemiatycki, K. Goonewardena, N. Subramanya

Day 2: Friday September 3rd, 2021.

Time: 9:30am – 10:15am

Toronto Talk & Coffee hosted by GGAPSS Orientation Committee

This is a Q&A panel of 4-5 current students/recent students across the PhD, MA, MSc, and MSc Pl programs who will share their experiences navigating graduate life at the University of Toronto and how it has structured their work and practice. Other topics the panelists will discuss include:

Graduate studies,


Supervisor relationships,


Campus resources and living in the city of Toronto more broadly

Time: 10:30am-12:00pm

Anti-oppression workshop

Time 1:00pm -2:00pm

Understanding your Funding Package (Attendance: students in funded cohort/not MSc Pl)

Presenter: Jessica Finlayson

In Memory of Professor Jock Galloway

John (‘Jock’) Herbert Galloway passed away on July 27, 2021 in Tweed Ontario after a long fight with Alzheimer’s.

Our friend and colleague Jock Galloway graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from McGill University in Montreal in 1960 and with a Master of Arts in Geography from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961. Jock received his Doctorate from University College, London in 1965. Jock’s doctoral research, conducted under the supervision of Professor Clifford Darby, focussed on the historical geography of Pernambuco, in Northeastern Brazil, from 1770 to 1920. Jock was appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Toronto, St. George in 1964, and then as an Assistant Professor in 1965. He was promoted to Associate- and Full-Professor ranks in 1970 and 1977, respectively. Jock retired from the University as a Professor Emeritus in 2005. During his many years at the U of T, Jock was a devoted and much loved and respected member of the Department of Geography & Planning and also as a Fellow of Victoria College.

Jock’s research and publications focussed on the historical geography of Brazil and the Caribbean, ultimately coming to focus on the sugar cane industry from its origins to 1914. In 1989, Cambridge University Press published his research in a book, now considered a classic reference, which explored the global geographical diffusion of the sugar cane industry and its various branches. Jock started working on an update to this book earlier in his retirement.

Jock was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and the American Geographical Society, and a member, among others, of the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) and the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. He also served as Associate, Acting and then Editor for the Canadian Geographer over the years 1966 to 1973. He served on the editorial board of the Journal of Historical Geography from 1974 to 1978 and again from 1984 to 1994. He was the Review Editor for the Americas for the same journal from 1978 to 1983. From the late 1980s to the 2000s, Jock also served on editorial boards for other periodicals including Latin American Studies, and the Luso-Brazilian Review of the University of Wisconsin Press. Jock co-edited (with Professor Peter Blanchard of the Department of History) the World Sugar History Newsletter from 1994 to 2005. Over his long academic career, Jock published numerous articles and chapters, in addition to the Cambridge book, and delivered dozens of symposia papers and invited lectures. He also received several awards from his peers, including the Award for Scholarly Distinction from the CAG, and an Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Toronto.

Jock will be remembered as a wonderful colleague and dedicated teacher. He was in personal life a Renaissance man, urbane, witty, multi-lingual, culturally engaged, and a great cook. Since his retirement, colleagues and students have often reminisced about seeing Jock in the hallways of Sidney Smith Hall, always dressed impeccably, and very often rushing with maps rolled under his arms, on his way to give a lecture. Jock will be remembered as a scholar as well as consummate gentleman who was always supportive of his colleagues and students.

5 August 2021

Incoming Student Élyse Comeau Receives Prestigious Award

Congratulations to Élyse Comeau (incoming Planning Ph.D. student) on being awarded the 2021- 2022 Kimel Family Graduate Student Scholarship in Pediatric Disability Research, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Under the supervision of Professors Tim Ross and Ron Buliung, Élyse proposes to study the disabling experiences of public transit in the City of Toronto.

GeoPlan 2021: The Department of Geography & Planning Annual Newsletter

GeoPlan, our department’s annual newsletter, is out now!

Read more about our new faculty, program updates, alumni activities, and excellent faculty by clicking here

Image of the GeoPlan header - including department logo and the dates 2020-21

Geography & Planning Students Support Toronto’s Growing Community Land Trust Movement

As Toronto’s housing crisis intensifies, many tenants face rent increases and evictions that displace them from their homes and communities. This dire situation calls for alternative solutions – an issue several Geography & Planning students have turned their attention to. The Affordable Housing Challenge Project (AHCP) at the U of T School of Cities brings together students as well as researchers from across the university who are researching the housing crisis and affordability – many of whom, through their work, have supported community initiatives and successful alternative housing solutions in Toronto.

One of these alternatives is the Community Land Trust (CLT) model. Over the last ten years, the CLT model has attracted considerable attention, as it foregrounds principles of permanent affordability, community democratic control, and development without displacement. In Toronto, between 2017 and 2021, the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, the city’s first neighbourhood-based CLT, successfully preserved a community-owned agriculture site and two at-risk rooming houses with over fifty units. Since its inception, there has been a growing movement among Toronto community members and organizers to implement similar initiatives. It is within this momentum that the AHCP’s CLT Team, coordinated by PhD Planning student Kuni Kamizaki, works to support emerging Community Land Trusts in the city. Under the supervision of Professors Susannah Bunce and Alan Walks, our CLT Team has been working with the Kensington Market CLT, the Friends of Chinatown Toronto’s CLT Initiative, and the Toronto CLT Network.

Kensington Market CLT was established in 2017 in response to rapid gentrification and the more recent increase of short-term rental units. In 2019, the landlord of 54-56 Kensington Avenue – an iconic building in the neighbourhood – attempted to “renovict” his tenants. The building residents, KMCLT, and community advocates fought back together, successfully acquiring and preserving the building with the support of an acquisition grant of $3 million received from the city in May 2021. Our CLT Team has supported this community-led preservation effort. Sinead Petrasek (PhD Geography Candidate) has led website and communications development, as well as a fundraising campaign currently underway. Chiyi Tam (MScPl 2019-21) spearheaded the planning and financing of acquisition from feasibility analysis to its closing. We continue to support KMCLT in building its strong organizational base for future projects, including an RFP response to the City to redevelop a nearby parking lot into more community-owned affordable housing.

In the adjacent neighbourhood of downtown Chinatown, our team has collaborated with the Friends of Chinatown Toronto (FOCT), a grassroots group fighting for community-controlled housing and racial justice. In 2020, we partnered with the UofT Planning program, and commissioned a research project to a group of students in the PLA1106H Workshop in Planning Practice course. The group – including Chiyi Tam – released a research report that offered strategies for combatting displacement pressures including a CLT for Chinatown. Building on this report, our CLT team and FOCT have recently launched a one-year community-based action research project titled “Who Owns Chinatown? Mapping Ownership and Precarity to Mobilize a Community Land Trust” with the support of the SSHRC-funded Balanced Supply of Housing Node project at the University of British Columbia. Our participatory research aims to identify existing affordable housing stock that is vulnerable to speculation, upscaling and eviction threats, as well as to develop community-led strategies for housing preservation.

These CLT initiatives, from Kensington Market and Chinatown to Parkdale and most recently – Little Jamaica, are making up the growing CLT movement in Toronto. A common challenge for start-up CLTs is the need for resources and technical expertise required for housing acquisition, preservation, and stewardship. To this end, our CLT team has been assisting the development of the Toronto Community Land Trust Network, currently housed in the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, to foster collaboration and support between established and emerging CLTs. In particular, we are conducting action-oriented research – led by Laura Vaz-Jones (PhD Geography Candidate) – to explore a networked approach support system. The networked approach is inspired by existing Community Land Trust initiatives in the Bay Area, New York City, and Boston. This approach is sometimes called the “central server” model that involves centralizing some CLT functions within the network to achieve greater economies of scale and relieve some of the technical and financial burdens from individual neighbourhood-led organizations. A central server approach enables CLTs, particularly those just starting out, to focus more of their resources and energy on community organizing and democratic management.

In face of worsening housing security and the financialization of housing – where housing is treated as a commodity rather than social good – the Community Land Trust model has garnered support from housing movements, community-based planners, and housing policy makers who understand it as an indispensable strategy for a just recovery. Our overall aim of this community-university partnership is to support the flourishing of a strong CLT movement and thereby broader struggles for community-led affordable housing and equitable development in the city and beyond.

Written by: Chiyi Tam, Kuni Kamizaki, Laura Vaz-Jones, and Sinead Petrasek