Dispatches from Abroad: Singapore

December 4, 2018 in Dispatches from Abroad

The Urban Policy Lab’s “Dispatches from Abroad” blog series provides an opportunity for students at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy to share their experiences working or studying in cities outside Toronto, whether during their internships, while on exchange, or via extracurricular activities. In this dispatch, Andrew Thies, a second-year Master of Public Policy student, reflects on his academic exchange at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, in Singapore, and what the experience taught him about urban heritage preservation.

 

In the face of rapid development, urban areas around the world struggle to prevent historically significant buildings from being torn down (R.I.P Honest Ed’s).

Why should a city preserve its built heritage? Because heritage preservation amounts to an effort to foster and grow a collective identity in the face of rapid social and economic changes. It is a source of pride for communities, as well as a chance to develop personal and shared identities. We can learn from heritage, and sometimes it can better help us to face the future.

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Dispatches from Abroad: Paris

December 4, 2018 in Dispatches from Abroad

The Urban Policy Lab’s “Dispatches from Abroad” blog series provides an opportunity for students at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy to share their experiences working or studying in cities outside Toronto, whether during their internships, while on exchange, or via extracurricular activities. In this dispatch, Michael Zusev, a second-year Master of Public Policy student, reflects on his academic exchange at Sciences-Po, in Paris, and what the experience taught him about urban density and spatial economics.

 

Two opposing characteristics make the shape of the Parisian urban area extremely unique: low building heights and extreme density.

A strict city ordinance that began in 1667 leaves building no higher than 121 feet, roughly one-fifth the average height of New York skyscrapers. Yet amazingly, Paris is twice as dense as New York City.

Density is something you can feel walking down Parisian streets — apartment blocks are lined up so there are no alleyways, and sidewalks connect immediately with buildings and roads. There are few lawns, commercial plazas, or parking lots. Land is extremely valuable in the city centre, so it is used very precisely.

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Dispatches from Abroad: Berlin

December 4, 2018 in Dispatches from Abroad

The Urban Policy Lab’s “Dispatches from Abroad” blog series provides an opportunity for students at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy to share their experiences working or studying in cities outside Toronto, whether during their internships, while on exchange, or via extracurricular activities. In this dispatch, Katerina Stamadianos, a second-year Master of Public Policy student, reflects on her academic exchange at the Hertie School of Governance, in Berlin, and what the experience taught her about parks policy and public space.

 

You know the drill. Young twenty-something girl goes on exchange to Berlin and is here to tell you about how much better things are in Europe. Swears she has found herself and will never be the same – ad infinitum.

I’ll spare you from the exchange student trope – all to say, this blog post is about a park not because I’ve got the girl-abroad glasses on. This blog post is about a park because my flat in Berlin is situated next to a really, really great park – Park am Gleisdreieck. Living next to am Gleisdreieck has gotten me thinking about why going to the park seems to be a more popular activity in Berlin than Toronto, and what Toronto may be able to do to get more people into public spaces.

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Reflections: Munk in the City

December 4, 2018 in Dispatches from the Field

Photo credit: Jolene Funk

Munk in the City is an initiative organized by the Urban Policy Lab that asks students to step out of the classroom and into the community to grapple with urban policy issues first-hand. In the weeks leading up to the 2018 Toronto municipal election, 25 teams of students from both the Master of Public Policy and Master of Global Affairs programs ventured out to all corners of the city to explore and report on key issues and concerns in each of the 25 new municipal wards. To see all student submissions, visit the project’s Tumblr page, or search the hashtag #MunkintheCity on your favourite social media platform. In this blog post, Graduate Fellow Matthew Plouffe picks out a few of his favourite submissions.

Now that the election has come and gone, and the controversy around shrinking Toronto city council has subsided, it’s time to reflect on the Munk in the City initiative.

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Exploring Ward 21 with Munk in the City

October 22, 2018 in Dispatches from the Field

 

Guest blog by: Meredith Nelson (MGA) and Jolene Funk (MGA)
Munk in the City is an initiative organized by the Urban Policy Lab that asks students to step out of the classroom and into the community to grapple with urban policy issues first-hand. To see all student submissions, visit the project’s Tumblr page.

Hi all! This is Jolene and Meredith, two students from the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. We began our morning of exploring Ward 21 Scarborough Centre with the Munk in the City initiative commuting from densely populated wards by bus, multiple subway lines, and the Scarborough RT, and met up at the Scarborough Town Centre.

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Urban Policy Lab launches Council Scorecard, partners on Vote Compass Toronto

October 4, 2018 in Projects

 

The Urban Policy Lab is excited to partner with Vox Pop Labs and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to enhance the Toronto municipal election edition of Vote Compass, an award-winning application that informs voters on how their views align with those of the candidates running for election.

Utilizing data from our newly launched Council Scorecard project, Vote Compass users can now learn not only what mayoral and council candidates promise to do if elected, but also how these promises compare to the actual voting records of council incumbents.

The Urban Policy Lab developed the Council Scorecard in collaboration with municipal affairs analyst and columnist Matt Elliott, who created the original Scorecard in 2011 to track votes at Toronto City Council. It soon became a frequently used resource for city staff, politicians, activists, and engaged residents to understand councillor voting patterns.

In Summer 2018, the Urban Policy Lab teamed up with Elliott to expand and enhance the Council Scorecard as a civic education and democratic accountability tool to help the public keep tabs on their local elected representatives and provide a resource for researchers to compare voting behaviour in different municipalities.

The goal of the Council Scorecard is to present municipal voting records in compelling and accessible formats to make it easier for people to learn how their local representatives voted on issues that matter to them, their community, and the city as a whole. Our partnership with Vox Pox Labs and the CBC on Vote Compass is our first effort toward these ends, with more creative applications to come.

Learn more about the Lab’s contribution to the Vote Compass project here, and be sure to try Vote Compass for yourself to learn about all candidates for Toronto City Council and the voting records of current councillors.

Visit Vote Compass

Urban Policy Lab organizes “Munk in the City” student initiative

September 5, 2018 in Events

The Government of Ontario’s recent decision to slash the number of Toronto city councillors in half, from 47 to 25, has dramatically changed the upcoming municipal election. But on the ground, the city’s 2.8 million residents face the same day-day-to challenges as in major cities around the world: access to affordable housing, poverty and inequality, traffic congestion, immigrant integration, and climate change.

“Munk in the City” is an initiative by the Urban Policy Lab and newly reimagined Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy to motivate students to grapple with these challenges first-hand, and consider the urban policy solutions that can address these issues.

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Urban Policy Lab welcomes first cohort of Graduate Fellows

August 7, 2018 in News

The Urban Policy Lab is excited to announce the inaugural cohort of Urban Policy Graduate Fellows, a team of second-year Master of Public Policy students who will contribute to the Lab’s research projects, participate in unique experiential learning opportunities, and help coordinate the School’s urban-oriented extracurricular student programming. 

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Urban Policy Lab launches Student Fellowship Program

June 26, 2018 in News

The Urban Policy Lab is excited to announce a new Student Fellowship Program offering Master of Public Policy students interested in cities and urban policy making the chance to participate in unique experiential learning opportunities, contribute to the Lab’s research projects, and help coordinate the School’s urban-oriented extracurricular programming.

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Urban Policy Lab director calls for ‘Who Does What’ Panel 2.0

May 17, 2018 in News

As part of the recent Ontario 360 project, Prof. Gabriel Eidelman, director of the Urban Policy Lab, in collaboration with Prof. Zack Taylor, director of Western University’s Centre for Urban Policy and Local, called for an independent review of the relationship between the province and its 444 municipalities and the creation of a ‘Who Does What’ Advisory Panel for the 21st century.

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SPPG launches Urban Policy Lab

May 17, 2018 in News

The School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto is excited to announce the creation of the Urban Policy Lab, a hybrid teaching and research hub that will serve as a focal point for the School’s urban initiatives, offering students new experiential learning opportunities through a range of collaborative research and civic education projects.

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