Fall 2021 - GEOG 261 D100

Encountering the City (3)

Class Number: 4299

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    HCC 2510, Vancouver

  • Instructor:

    Melora Koepke
    Office: TBA
    Office Hours: Thursdays 2:30-3:30 or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 100 or 102.



An introduction to key concepts and themes in contemporary geographical approaches to cities and urbanization. Breadth-Social Sciences.


Cities – their bright lights, spectacular buildings, and jarring contrasts – have sparked our imaginations for centuries.  They are places of possibility and danger, of hope and disappointment, of power and powerlessness, of glamour and destitution, of production and consumption.  They are often seen as different or special.  They are frequently places where new innovations emerge and places that epitomize new forms of social organization.  If you are interested in cities, if you are excited about living in one and by the opportunity to learn more about them, then this course is for you.

Urban geographers study the spaces, environments, and ways of life of cities.  This course introduces key concepts and approaches in contemporary urban geography.  It will draw upon examples from North America and other parts of the world.  The following broad themes will feature in the course: The process of urbanization; the urban built environment; public space; inequality, exclusion, and segregation; politics in (and of) the city; suburbanization; city-regions; representations of the city; social identity and urban space; nature and the city; urban futures.

Lecture Sessions will be held synchronously, in-person.
Tutorials will be held synchronously, in-person.
The course uses Canvas http://www.sfu.ca/canvas.html.

A Breadth Social Science course that may also be applied toward the Certificate in Urban Studies: (http://www.sfu.ca/students/calendar/2017/spring/programs/urban-studies/certificate.html).

Note: There will be no tutorials in the first week of class.



  • Tutorial participation 15%
  • Media article presentations in tutorial: 5%
  • Self-directed ‘U-Pass Fieldtrip’ & writing assignment: 15%
  • Virtual Fieldtrip assignment and presentation (in pairs): 15%
  • Encountering the City Course Journal 20%
  • Take-home Exam (essay, open book) 30%




Tutorial participation                                                                                                15%

We will co-create a rubric for participation in the first tutorial (week 2) and we will use this rubric to evaluate participation throughout the semester.

Media article presentations in tutorial:                                                                   5%

During the semester, you will be required to present to your tutorial group a recent media article that relates to the course themes.  You will also be asked to write short discussion questions about them and to lead the discussion in class.  More details will be provided in tutorial.


Self-directed ‘U-Pass Fieldtrip’ & writing assignment:                                            15%

An assignment intended to get you out into the city (to ‘encounter’ it!) and that involves exploration, writing, photography.  More information will be provided in Week 4.

Virtual Fieldtrip assignment and presentation (in pairs):                                        15%

Encountering the City Course Journal                                                                     20%

Students will keep a journal in which they report and reflect on various issues, and share with tutorial groups. 4 entries (worth 5% each) will be expected throughout the semester. Writing prompts and topics will be provided weekly.

Take-home Essay Exam

Essay, open book                                                                                                   30%



A+ 95+ Excellent
A 90 – 94 Excellent
A- 85 – 89 Excellent
B+ 80 – 84 Very Good
B 75 – 79 Good
B- 70 – 74 Good
C+ 65 – 69 Satisfactory
C 60 – 64 Satisfactory
C- 55 – 59 Satisfactory
D 50 – 54 Satisfactory
F Below 50% Unsatisfactory


**Note:  the following performance standards guide the grading in this class: 

Excellent = A; Good = B;  Satisfactory = C;  Marginal = D;  Unacceptable = F.

These match the standards in the University Calendar:




Textbook: Andrew Jonas, Eugene McCann, & Mary Thomas (2015) Urban Geography: A Critical Introduction. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.

Other readings and materials: Other readings will be available via the library and/or on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.