Summer 2022 - URB 695 G100

Selected Topics in Urban Studies (4)

Storyscapes: Decolonizing the city through arts

Class Number: 2027

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 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.



This course explores the colonialism embedded into the stories, landscapes, and systems of the North American city, and how Indigenous laws, stories, arts and culture are key to sustainable, equitable, decolonized cities.  With an emphasis on Vancouver, looks at planning through culture.

Course Details

URB 695 Storyscapes: Decolonizing the city through Arts and culture

Within North American cities, colonialism has inscribed certain narratives and built forms onto Indigenous lands, with imposed legal and governance systems aimed at eradicating the First Peoples. 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, economies, languages, etc. What are the transformative possibilities for cities 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 course will disrupt the embedded assumptions and inequities within urban planning and look at how Indigenous knowledge, laws, culture, planning traditions are essential to sustainable, equitable, and resilient cities

With an emphasis on Vancouver, unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories, this course will pay close attention to the narratives and norms embedded into Vancouver’s cultural landscapes and planning approaches. We will explore stories and sources from these lands and think deeply about how stories inform urban planning and how we live on the land. We will look at recent developments such as UNDRIP/DRIPA, the Vancouver Plan, colonial audits, and the culture plan Culture|Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture to provide context into ways the City of Vancouver has been working to be a “City of Reconciliation”.

What has been done and what can be done to make cities, their planning and cultures, 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 remotely, with (synchronous) online course meetings at the scheduled times on Wednesday evenings. 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%
  • Discussion questions 10%
  • Your Story of Place (self-location) 25%
  • Analyze/Decolonize (proposal) 10%
  • Analyze/Decolonize (final project) 45%



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: 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 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.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction.  Some courses may be offered through alternative methods (remote, online, blended), and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes. 

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, online, or blended courses 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 ( or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the summer 2022 term.