Spring 2021 - URB 675 G100

Urban Economic Development (4)

Class Number: 4598

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

    5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1700, Vancouver

    5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1700, Vancouver

    5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1700, Vancouver



Reviews several traditional and contemporary theories of urban economic development, exploring the historical context, content and policy implications of each.


Metropolitan areas are chief sites of economic activity and prosperity around the world.  Concomitantly, cities are also the heartlands of economic decline, poverty, social inequality, and environmental degradation.  Through the disciplinary lenses of critical political economy and economic geography, this course will develop in students a strong understanding of the history, theory, process, practice, and context of urban economic development policies and approaches.  The objectives of the course are to:  

  1. Provide an introduction to key concepts, ideas, strategies, and the (often contradictory) goals of economic development;
  2. Understand the impact of global and state economic policies and shifts at the city-scale;
  3. Understand the complex politics of the urban economic policymaking environment;
  4. Observe and compare theories of economic development with on-site field observations;
  5. To critically reflect on the outcomes of economic development efforts, through the asking of questions such as: who benefits?  
Course topics include neoliberalism and the urban condition; housing and racialized urban displacement; the decline of the industrial city; the rise of the creative class; corporate occupation of urban spaces; the role of the craft industry; as well as urban blight and gentrification.  Students can expect to participate in experiential field visits, conduct ethnographic observation exercises in aims of linking theory with observed and ‘actually existing’ urban economics, and to hear from private and public sector guest speakers.  

A background in economics is not a prerequisite for this course.

Remote Learning Format

  • Weekly synchronous class discussion on Zoom from 5:30pm-8pm
  • Asynchronouscourse activities content will be assigned most weeks (discussion questions and forum, mini-assignments, etc.)
  • As BCCDC and SFU COVID19 Impact Scale permit in the Spring 2021 semester, there may be the opportunity to meet up to 4 times synchronously (following all applicable risk protocols like physical distancing and wearing face masks) for outdoor field trips, site visits, and 'walking lectures' around Vancouver (the content for which groups of students will form as a part of the 'seminar leadership' group assignment).  These in-person gatherings will be optional, with alternate assignments and activities provided for those who are unable, or do not feel comfortable, meeting in-person.  Risk-assessment training will be provided in advance of in-person meetings, and all safety guidelines must be strictly adhered to by all participants.

Course Policies

Remote delivery of this course means that "the usual" course policies are now flexible.  Due dates, expectations, and requirements are all built for resilience and adaptability.

Time and place of classes:  See Canvas announcement prior to the first week of class for Zoom meeting ID and password.

Effort will be made to meet consistently between 5:30pm- 8pm each week, which allows for two hours of instruction with a short break.  Occasionally, class may spill into the hours of 8-9:20 p.m. (due to guest speaker schedules, and other special cases). These dates will be made clear in the final syllabus. 

Planned Face to Face Activities
Three face-to-face activities for this course are planned for Jan. 12, March 30, April 6.
Students should consider these plans and dates as tentative and subject to confirmation by the instructor in the course syllabus (which students will receive on the first day of classes) as well as subject to any provincial public health restrictions in effect at the time.


  • Participation 20%
  • Seminar leadership (group) 30%
  • Analytic research essay proposal 5%
  • Analytic research essay 20%
  • Case exploration using impact gap canvas/visual mapping + presentation 25%



All readings will be made available through Canvas and library reserves.

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 spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).