Urban Studies Program
SFU Urban Studies offers the only graduate-level program and credentials in Urban Studies in Canada. We are located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, and use this neighbourhood, the city, and its metropolitan region as our living laboratory. All of our courses are scheduled in the evening, and the option for part-time study allows our students to pursue their diploma or degree while working and/or raising a family.
SFU Urban Studies is interdisciplinary by nature. Our faculty comprise geographers, political scientists, historians, and anthropologists whose teaching and research interests straddle theory and practice, both within metropolitan Vancouver, and elsewhere.
Because of this interdisciplinary focus, we attract students whose academic and professional backgrounds reflect diverse disciplinary orientations and fields of practice. This contributes to a robust and dynamic classroom environment where the many different ways to read, understand, and analyze the city are explored, contested, and re-imagined.
This layering of different ideas and perspectives about the city carries through to our curriculum, where students explore the interconnections between urban society, economics, environment, politics, planning, and governance. They gain a critical understanding of the complex dynamics behind how choices are made about how we organize ourselves in cities, who gets to set rules for how we interact with one another, how we participate as urban citizens, who prospers and who doesn’t, who gets to use what space, who decides what to build, where, and for whom, and whose voice matters. We explore these important urban questions in the classroom, but also take advantage of our unique location on the west coast to sharpen our comparative lens through field excursions across the region, and beyond it (e.g. Victoria, Seattle, Portland) and through engagement with invited, distinguished scholars from within Canada and around the world.
Our students' research interests touch a diversity of vital issues in urban studies, including, but not confined to:
- sustainable and active transportation
- climate change and resilience
- density vs. liveability
- urban governance
- economic development
- citizen engagement
- food security
- diversity and cosmopolitanism
- social inclusion and isolation
- reclamation of public space
- sharing economy
To ensure our students are set up for success, we complement their academic pursuits with optional career preparation activities. These range from deepening their skills in resume writing, interviewing, and networking, to integrating co-operative education opportunities into their program.
Our graduates have found rich and rewarding career opportunities in a broad range of urban professions. They work as planners of all types for municipal governments, consulting firms, crown corporations, and private development companies. They have urban-related careers in research, public relations and community engagement, elected office, property assessment, the arts and culture, and recreation and sport. They run nonprofits. Their work allows them to promote and achieve active transportation goals, build community in suburbs through progressive design and planning, promote sustainable building design, address critical issues of environmental sustainability and urban resilience, work for and with our cities’ most marginalized citizens, and design and implement effective community engagement strategies on critical urban issues, among many other opportunities. We invite you to visit our Alumni profiles to learn more about their cutting edge work.