Fall 2021 - URB 695 G100

Selected Topics in Urban Studies (4)

Storyscapes: Decolonizing the city through arts

Class Number: 5517

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM



This course provides an opportunity for students to study one or more urban studies topics that lie beyond the scope of the other courses. This course will normally provide a more research-intensive experience than other graduate urban studies courses.


URB 695 Storyscapes: Decolonizing the city through Arts and culture

Colonialism within the North American city has inscribed certain narratives and built forms onto Indigenous lands, while imposing genocidal legal and governance systems. Relying on harmful concepts like terra nullius and Doctrine of Discovery, urbanization has contributed to the erasure of pre-existing Indigenous laws, governance, knowledge systems, languages, etc. What are the transformative possibilities for planning when Indigenous cultures, languages, stories are once again visible throughout the city? Drawing on a variety of sources—including public art, video, and poetry—this class will explore the embedded assumptions and inequities within urban planning in Canada, and other ways of looking at/relating to the land in urbanized settings.

With an emphasis on Vancouver, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, this course will pay close attention to the narratives and norms embedded into Vancouver’s tangible and intangible cultural landscapes and planning approaches. The City’s recent culture plan Culture|Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture will provide a guide to some ways Vancouver is attempting to decolonize. What are ways forward? What has been done and what can be done to make our cities and the ways we make decisions about them more reflective of Indigenous people’s ways of knowing, shaping, and living in relationship with places? While critically examining the colonialism in our cities, this class will be rich with Indigenous voices to affirm that every North American city is an Indigenous City.

Format for course delivery
This class will be offered in an online-only format. To access course materials and discussions, you will need access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. The course will meet live via Zoom and course materials will be available on Canvas.


  • Participation and attendance 10%
  • Leading discussion 10%
  • Your Story of Place 20%
  • Analyze/Decolonize 30%
  • Research paper 30%



Various sources, including video, poetry, heritage documents, neighbourhood plans, city strategies, and the like will be used throughout the course.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

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.