The School of Cities works in partnership with other faculties, schools and departments at the University of Toronto to offer a series of seminars for graduate students enrolled in Masters or PhD programs at the University.  Multidisciplinary Urban Graduate Seminar (M.U.G.S) courses – formerly known as the Graduate Multidisciplinary Urban Project (GMUP) – focus on issues related to urban policy and practice, and students work in multidisciplinary teams from different academic fields, using their learned perspective to review problems faced by cities and find innovative solutions. 

This course is offered in collaboration with Dalla Lana School of Public Health and is taught by Professor Kate Mulligan. 

This weeklong intensive course will introduce graduate students from across disciplines and professions to the theory and practice of social prescribing for healthy cities. Social prescribing provides a new way to understand and organize intersectoral approaches to healthy cities and healthy urban populations. The practice involves health professionals working collaboratively with participants to prescribe non-clinical services that help address the social determinants of health, from social isolation and wellbeing activities to better access to housing and food. 

The course will include guest lecturers from across Canada and around the world along with visits to social prescribing programs focused on urban health in the Toronto area. This course will be in-person only. 

This course is offered in collaboration with John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture and Design and is taught by Professor Michael Piper. 

New housing construction tends to be expensive and extractive. With affordability and environmental crises underway, one has to wonder why we don’t make better use of our existing housing stock and urban land. This course will explore strategies of ReHousing, or, repurposing existing single-family buildings as dignified multi-unit housing. Toronto is planning to pass zoning reforms that will allow up to five units of housing on all existing single-family lots. It is already legal to build three. The city’s policy and financial systems support the creation of new buildings in this context and design imagery often showcases refined materials of new construction. As an alternative, we will explore design techniques, policy frameworks, and financial systems to enable and encourage the recreation of existing housing stocks. We are partnered with two organizations who are focusing on how to make such renovation, conversion, or transformation more affordable, and equitable: Circle Community Land Trust and GoCo/Husmates. This course will build on work created with these partners during the previous semester but will have a distinct focus. Both returning and new students are welcome. 

This course is offered in collaboration with the Master of Urban Innovation, UTM and is co-taught by Dr. Jeff Allen (cartographer and urban data scientist) and Professor Karen Chapple (Director, School of Cities; Professor, Department of Geography and Planning; Professor Emerita. City & Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley). 

In this research workshop, the students will examine the impacts of the pandemic on main streets, as well as the policy interventions and contextual factors that have best supported their comeback. The resilience of main streets depends on a variety of factors – economic, social, organizational, cultural, political, design, regulatory, etc. Students will use cell phone mobility data linked to neighbourhood and business data to analyze main street activity patterns and predict the impacts of different policy interventions. At the same time, they will conduct interviews and/or surveys with stakeholders in the most resilient main streets to help determine which interventions are most effective – and why. 

This course is offered in collaboration with John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture and Design and is taught by Professor Michael Piper and Sneha Mandhan. 

This course if offered in collaboration with the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and is co-taught by Professor Gabriel Eidelman (Director of Munk School’s Urban Policy Lab) and Don Iveson (former Mayor of Edmonton (2013-2021), Chair of Canada’s Big City Mayors Caucus, and Canadian Urban Leader at the School of Cities). 

This course compares how cities and city regions around the world organize themselves to deal with urban policy problems. The goal of the course is to highlight how different governance structures across North America, Western Europe, and other global regions shape policy making in cities, and the diversity of policy responses required by national, subnational, and local governments to address the toughest urban challenges. 

This course is offered in collaboration with John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture and Design and is co-taught by Professor Michael Piper and Sneha Mandhan. 

About half of Toronto and much of the GTA consists of a “yellowbelt” of single-family detached homes protected by restrictive zoning rules. With a housing affordability crisis and the GTA expected to increase by three million new residents in the next 25 years, the region faces a pivotal decision. Can the GTA’s municipalities open up their neighbourhoods in a way that is equitable and sustainable but also politically and economically viable? 

This course will focus on transforming single-family homes into multi-family housing through co-ownership and/or co-living strategies, for those who are being left out of the individual homeownership market. Given that practices such as co-ownership or co-housing are not mainstream, a number of new platforms and organizations have emerged lately to support ‘citizen developer’ types as they conduct feasibility studies, apply for unconventional mortgages, or negotiate complex approvals processes. Our goal for this course is to study these platforms, visualize scenarios for how they contribute to multiplex and garden suite creation and develop a Guidebook for Citizen Developers that focuses on the nuts and bolts of development and implementation. 

Working in alignment with the City of Toronto’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) initiatives, students will partner with organizations that offer services/platforms for alternative development scenarios, e.g., community land trusts that take housing units off of the private market and hold it on behalf of the community, who then shares ownership and governance of those housing units, and co-ownership development advisors and partners who help individuals manoeuvre the legal and financial systems to co-own properties with family, friends, or strangers. Students will work in groups on 4 primary components: 1) researching the services and platforms offering co-ownership or co-living options, 2) partnering with a service provider to understand the nuances of the opportunities and challenges of co-ownership/co-living, 3) consulting with the EHON team at the City of Toronto to understand the development process, permitting framework, and approvals, and 4) visualizing design and implementation scenarios of different types of co-living and co-ownership. 

This course is for students who have a strong interest in and passion for city-building and critical urban issues as they relate to the ‘Missing Middle’ of multiplexes and mid-sized developments in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

Learn more about this course from the course syllabus and this presentation

This course is offered in collaboration with the Rotman School of Management and is co-taught by Adam Vaughan (Principal at Navigator, former MP & Toronto City Councilor), Cheryll Case (Early Career Canadian Urban Leader, School of Cities; Adjunct Professor, University of Waterloo; Founder & Principal Urban Planner, CP Planning) &  Jeanhy Shim (President, Housing Lab Toronto; Founder, Crosswalk Communities and TashDesign Co.; Board of Directors, Waterfront Toronto). 

In this studio course, students will look through the lens of their different disciplines and collaborate to prepare innovative, affordable housing development proposals for a community client. The goal of the course is for students to produce workable designs and financial feasibility analyses for affordable housing on a small development site of under 20 units, and a high-density development on a vacant parking lot. While testing out different architectural and urban design approaches, students will also develop innovative financial models for securing the affordable housing they propose for their site. 

Learn more about this course on the Rotman School website > 

A request for proposals for 2024-25 courses will open in Fall 2023. In the meantime if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at