Urban Politics and Governance

Below is a sample list of electives focused on Innovation: Analysis and Policy. Students must complete 4.0 full-course equivalent (FCE) electives. 

Electives are subject to change and are dependent on the approval of the home department.

MUI 2060H Comparative Urban Politics
For the first time in human history, most people live in cities. Local and regional governments deal with many core issues that affect our daily lives, ranging from economic development and land use planning, to public housing and homelessness, immigrant settlement, and public transit. Yet non-governmental actors such as organized business interests and community based organizations also actively participate in urban politics and policymaking processes. This course examines the political process at the city-region level, exploring patterns of conflict and collaboration among governmental and community-based actors attempting to formulate solutions to complex 21st century urban problems. Using an urban political economy lens that draws attention to how globalization shapes urban fortunes, we examine questions of local political agency, framing out key local government structures and processes as well as major policy issues facing cities in North America and Europe. In particular, we focus on the prospects for policy innovation that integrates urban economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

MUI 2070H Planning and Governing the Metropolis
The metropolitan area — also called the urban region or city-region — is now the dominant form of human settlement. The question of how urban regions should be governed, and of how to plan their future growth, has been hotly debated for over a century with no resolution. This course provides an overview of these issues. It begins with a discussion of what we mean by “region,” why the regional scale (as distinct from the national, provincial, or local) is understood to be useful and necessary, and how we should think about governance and policymaking at the regional scale. It then surveys the historical evolution and contemporary relevance of six leading perspectives on regional planning and governance. The course concludes by looking at the prospects for regionalism, with a focus on the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

MUI 2080H Intelligent Communities/Smart Cities
This course provides an overview of strategies that make up a ‘smart city” and ‘intelligent community’ – approaches to local development that integrate digital infrastructure and information and communication technologies with urban planning processes. Students will study the importance of governance forms, human capital, and equity considerations that are integral to their success. Additional key aspects include analyzing real-time data to better manage resources and congestion, forming partnerships between government, industry and universities to promote digital innovation and economic growth, and strengthening access to broadband technologies to improve the quality of life and public engagement of citizens.

MUI 2090H Public Finance in Canadian Cities
This course examines Canadian local public finance in comparative perspective — where revenue comes from and how it is spent — and discusses the implications of municipal finance for urban public policy, planning, and the provision of municipal services. The first half of the course provides a comprehensive introduction to major concepts in local public finance for students interested in urban politics, public policy, and urban development, as well as the politics of municipal budgeting and intergovernmental fiscal relations. The second half of the course builds on the first by focusing on how public finance influences the shape of urban and suburban development.

JPG 1512H Place, Politics and the Urban
The course examines the relationship between urban geography, planning and politics. In particular, it seeks to interrogate the theoretical importance of place, space and urban form in the production of political and social values, practices, strategies, and discourses, and in turn, analyze the implications of the place-politics nexus for understanding shifts in the direction and form of urban policy, governance, identity and citizenship. The course begins with a broad examination of the theoretical bases for linking place and politics, particularly as this relates to the construction of urban and non-urban places, with literature drawn from a number of sources, including geography, urban studies, political science, and planning theory. The course then examines a number of specific cases: including the politics of automobility, gentrification as a political practice, to the politics of community and neighbourhood aesthetics, the politics of homelessness and anti-panhandling legislation, the politics of planning, suburbanization, and municipal amalgamation that inform and challenge our understanding of the relationship between place and political praxis.