For inquiries about program requirements and admissions, please contact urbanstudies.innis@utoronto.ca first.

Director (on leave 2018-19)
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream

Dr. Shauna Brail, Ph.D. (Toronto)

Shauna Brail


Room 308, Innis College (2 Sussex Avenue)


Shauna Brail is Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Urban Studies Program, University of Toronto and a senior associate in the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She holds a BA in Urban Studies/Geography (UofT), an MA in Urban Planning (UBC), and a PhD in Geography (UofT). From 2015-2018, Brail was the Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement, and worked both within and outside of the university to develop partnerships and support initiatives which enhanced the university’s strategic priority of leveraging our location(s).

Prior to joining the university, Brail 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. She has led the development of academic internships and community engaged learning initiatives in the Urban Studies Program for over a decade, working with students, university administrators and partners at urban-focused organizations across the city.   

Recent publications:
Brail, S. 2017. Promoting Innovation Locally: Municipal Regulation as Barrier or Boost. Geography Compass, 11:12, 1-12.

Brail, S. and Kumar, N.  2017.  Community leadership and engagement after the mix: The transformation of Toronto’s Regent Park. Urban Studies, 54:16, 3772-3788.

Brail, S., E. Mizrokhi and S. Ralston.  2017. Examining the transformation of Regent Park, Toronto: Prioritizing hard and soft infrastructure in Urban Transformations: Geographies of Renewal and Creative Change, edited by Wise, N. and Clark, J., Routledge, 177-194.

Brail, S. 2016. Quantifying the value of service learning:  comparison of grade achievement between service learning and non-service learning students. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 28:2,148-157.

Leslie, D., Brydges, T. and Brail. S.  2015. Qualifying aesthetic values in the experience economy: the role of independent fashion boutiques in curating slow fashion in Spatial Dynamics in the Experience Economy, edited by Lorentzen, A., Schroder, L, and K.T. Larsen.  New York: Routledge.



Acting Director, 2018-19
Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Dr. David Roberts, Ph.D. (Toronto)



Room 303, Innis College (2 Sussex Avenue)


David Roberts is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Urban Studies Program. He holds BAs in Political Science and Business Administration (University of Washington) and an MA and PhD in Geography (U of T). He also serves as a Faculty Advisor for First in the Family Peer Mentorship Program and is the Faculty Coordinator for the Arts and Science Teaching and Learning Community of Practice. His research and teaching interests include the geographies of race and racialization, urban infrastructure planning, and the politics of public participation in urban knowledge production and policymaking. He has a particular interest in how members of marginalized communities work to shape and reshape urban spaces, politics, and experiences. His doctoral research used the 2010 World Cup as a basis for examining tensions between planning directed at the social development of the post-apartheid city in South Africa versus planning designed to support the needs of a visiting tourist class. He continues to be interested in the relationship between hosting mega-events and other contemporary trends in urbanization.


Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Aditi Mehta, PhD (MIT)


Room 308W, Innis College (2 Sussex Avenue)


Aditi Mehta is an assistant professor, teaching stream, in the urban studies program at Innis College. Aditi earned her masters in city planning and her PhD at MIT. Her research interests include technology and civic engagement, participatory planning, community development, and issues surrounding racial and ethnic diversity. Aditi’s work bridges academics with community involvement and facilitates the exchange of ideas between the two. 

See interview here.


Adjunct Faculty Members

Dr. Paul Hess, Ph.D. (Washington)


Room 5067, Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George St.)


David Hulchanski

INI339H1S Divided City/United City

Professor, Housing and Community Development
Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto


David Hulchanski is a professor of housing and community development at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, where he holds the Chow Yei Ching Chair in Housing.  He is cross-appointed with the geography and planning program.

His PhD is in urban planning (1981). His research and teaching is focused on housing, neighbourhoods, and community development. In the 1980s he was a professor of community planning at the University of British Columbia and director of the UBC Centre for Human Settlements. He was the director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Urban and Community Studies from 2000 to 2008.

He is currently the principal investigator (director of research) of a 7-year $2.5 million research partnership, the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership, focused on neighbourhoods and socio-spatial change in Canadian cities with international comparisons. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and other partners fund the research. See: http://neighbourhoodchange.ca

David Hulchanski is the author of a report on Toronto as a “divided city,” The Three Cities Within Toronto: Income Polarization Among Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, 1970-2005.  See:  http://3cities.neighbourhoodchange.ca


Sessional Lecturers

The Urban Studies Program welcomes the following instructors to our program in 2017-2018:


Dr. Emily Paradis
INI333H1F: Critical Approaches to Urban Studies

INI433H1S: Special Topics in Urban Studies: Serving the City

Emily Paradis has been an activist, researcher, advocate and front-line service provider with people facing homelessness for 25 years. Her scholarly work focuses on human rights dimensions of housing, poverty and homelessness; community-based research and action; and participatory interventions to address inequities in urban neighbourhoods. She is a Senior Research Associate at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, research manager of the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership, sessional instructor with the Urban Studies Program of Innis College, collaborator on the National Film Board online documentary project HIGHRISE, member of the Right to Housing Coalition, co-investigator with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, and a founding ally member of the Lived Experience Advisory Council. Dr. Paradis holds a BA in Applied Social Science from Concordia University, an M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology from OISE-UT, and a PhD in Adult Education from OISE-UT.



Dina Graser
INI338H1F: Advanced Topics in Urban Studies I: Infrastructure & Community Benefits

Dina Graser is a consultant specializing in public policy for urban projects that engage and build communities. She is currently the Project Director of the National Housing Collaborative and Senior Advisor at the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. From 2010-2014 Dina was the Director, Community and Stakeholder Relations at Metrolinx, where she created Metrolinx’s first community relations division and oversaw public and stakeholder engagement. She negotiated the organization’s first community benefits framework, which is being implemented on the $5B Eglinton Crosstown LRT project and will be included in three other LRT projects across Ontario. Since then, she has consulted, researched and written studies about how to use community benefits approaches in both private development and public procurement in Ontario. Before joining Metrolinx, Dina was a lawyer, a planning activist, and a civic and cultural producer. She has a BA in English from McGill University, an MFA in Performing Arts Management from the City University of New York, and an LLB from the University of Toronto.


Denise Pinto
INI437Y1Y: Urban Experiential Learning in Toronto and the GTA

Denise is a placemaker, writer, and urban issues specialist. Currently she is working on a debut novel about Canadian cities. She is the Executive Director Emeritus of the global Jane's Walk project. Named in honour of Jane Jacobs, the project supports organizers from over 200 cities, Calgary to Calcutta, as they produce programmes of citizen-led walking tours that get people to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities, and connect with neighbours. Denise has walked with community leaders and delivered keynote lectures in Vienna, Hong Kong and Chicago about the role of diverse perspectives and lived experiences in placemaking. She also sits on the Board for MABELLEarts, an arts-based charity that transforms parks in low-income neighbourhoods with the people who live there. Denise has held advisory positions for a number of urban initiatives including: Open Streets Toronto, Walk Toronto Pedestrian Advocacy Committee, and the Editorial Board for OALA's Ground Magazine, where she frequently contributes. In 2012, she won a Medal of Excellence at the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada's Urban Design Awards for a project on urban agriculture. In 2016, she was named a Vital Person by the Toronto Foundation for making a difference in the city. Denise holds a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture, with a specialization in Knowledge Media Design, from the University of Toronto.


Patrick Adler

INI336H1S: Creative Cities

Profile forthcoming