Pandemonium: Urban studies and recovering from COVID-19

June 10, 2023

SFU Urban Studies 2020-21 lecture series, Pandemonium: Urban studies and recovering from COVID-19. This series is generously co-hosted with SFU Public Square and financially supported by the Initiative in Sustainable Urban Development. 

Wednesday February 24
Time: 5:00 pm
Location: via Zoom

Resilience has been an emergent theme in city planning and management in the 21st century and its relevance is both altered and underscored by our experience with Covid-19. How much can we apply from emergency and recovery planning efforts from other cities and other kinds of risks and disasters, to our post-pandemic context? How much of the present pandemic demands a reconsideration of what it means to plan effectively for disaster? We address the new realities of considering urban resilience in the context of the pandemic and in the other slow emergencies still unfolding around us, in climate, energy, and other domains. 


Sarah Moser, Geography, McGill University
Laurah John, Founder and CEO, Jua Kali, St. Lucia
Anna Bounds, Sociology, City University of New York
Lilia Yumagulova, Program director, Preparing Our Home

Moderator: Seth Klein, Adjunct Professor, SFU Urban Studies


Wednesday, March 24
Time: 5:00 pm
Location: via Zoom

City streets, the living rooms of urban people, reflect the major changes to our cities and urban lives as much as any other spectacle of the pandemic. Small businesses, arts and culture sector workers, and activists have suffered compounding disasters. From major protest movements, conducted differently; to new moves to safeguard, and to shutter, and then to reopen in new configurations, small businesses and main streets; to the arts and culture sector, their work almost completely curtailed, forced to generate new strategies to continue to promote the role of all kinds of creativity in the effort to hold our streets together and channel human inspiration. What will become of our streets and street life in the post-pandemic context? What can we do to keep the public in public spaces, without sacrificing health and safety? 



VANCOUVER URBAN PANDEMIC PANEL: what does COVID-19 mean for cities? 

Date: Tuesday, May 26
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: via Zoom

Our panel of urban scholars based at SFU Urban Studies reflects on the points of memory that are missing from public discourse about COVID-19 and need to be brought forward, and offers thoughts about new directions for cities and urban studies as we move through this new crisis. The panel consists of Noel Dyck, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Peter Hall, Professor of Urban Studies, Anthony Perl, Professor of Urban Studies and Political Science, Magali Talandier, Professor of Urban and Regional Studies and Visiting scholar in Urban Studies, and Yushu Zhu, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy. Meg Holden, Director of the Urban Studies Program, will moderate the conversation, which will involve an initial round of emerging thoughts and reflections on research and practice from the panel and be followed by questions and conversation. 

Wednesday September 30
Time: 5:00-7:00pm
Location: via Zoom

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the basic tenets of city planning and the direction of longer-term planning processes currently underway?

All our core principles about successful urban places –density, mixed-use, eyes on the street, reliance on public transit and non-motorized transport, and active public spaces – have been called into question by the pandemic. At the same time, new rules about cities, space, work, travel and social life have been imposed as emergency measures, without time to consider their long-term implications. In this session, we will learn about how urban and regional planning efforts underway before the pandemic will be influenced by it, what, if any, concepts need a radical rethink, and what new lessons will be incorporated.


Kennedy Stewart, Mayor of Vancouver | Reconstructing Our City
Jennifer Keesmaat, founder, The Keesmaat Group and Sponsor of the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities | The New Imperative for Resilience in Canadian Cities
Heather McNell, general manager, Regional Planning and Housing Services, Metro Vancouver | The Vancouver Region in 2050: Implications of COVID-19
Yunji Kim, assistant professor, Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University | The Pandemic and the Impatient Nation: How Korea Responded to COVID-19
Am Johal, director of SFU Vancity Office of Community Engagement | Whose City is it Anyway?
Moderator: Ken Cameron, adjunct professor, SFU Urban Studies


Wednesday, October 21
Time: 5:00 pm
Location: via Zoom

When Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry implored British Columbians to “be kind” at the onset of the pandemic, the message seemed disconnected from the urgent matter of our health. As the pandemic has worn on, driving new wedges of inequality, exclusion and vulnerability in between many of us, and deepening pre-existing conditions of social isolation and loneliness, the wisdom of kindness has become apparent. Looking at the successes and failures of other cities in the face of the pandemic, too, we can see the impact of kindness and its absence as part of the equation. Does being kind represent a lasting lesson for how to improve our cities in the long-term, in multiple and diverse directions? This panel discussion addresses the social as well as physical qualities of our homes and intimate communities as a big part of the story of coming through a pandemic intact. We address the connections between social cohesion and public health and ask what it will take to insert principles and practices of kindness and sociability in urban policy, moving forward from the pandemic.  


Helen Pineo, Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, University College London
Michelle Hoar, Director, Hey Neighbour Collective
Kate Mulligan, Director of Policy and Communications, Alliance for Healthy Communities, Ontario and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto
JoAn Wandolo and Anthonia Ogundele, Ethos Lab
Jennifer Johnstone, Executive Director, Central City Foundation 
Moderator: Meg Holden, Professor and Director, SFU Urban Studies


Date: Wednesday, November 25
Time: 5:00 pm
Location: via Zoom

The pandemic wrought economic devastation unseen since at least the Great Depression and government intervention in the economy on a scale comparable only to the two great World Wars. The shake-up in our urban economies has been far-reaching, with even more fundamental changes to sectors, drivers, demand, and structures still on the horizon, poorly understood. Opportunities to lead are becoming apparent, as are more radical opportunities to take hold of the need for new understanding of what the economy and wealth are for. What do we know so far about how has the game changed and the economic direction in which we are heading? 


Tamara Vrooman, CEO of YVR and Chancellor of SFU
Matti Siemiatycki, University of Toronto School of Cities
Lynsey Thornton, Shopify Vancouver
Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director, Battered Women Support Services, Co-Chair of Feminists Deliver
Wade Grant, Intergovernmental Relations, Musqueam Nation
Moderator: Peter Hall, Professor and Associate Dean, SFU Urban Studies


Wednesday January 27
Time: 5:00 pm 
Location: via Zoom

Normal was not good enough before the pandemic – especially when talking about housing affordability, access and sustainability. Our Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy is currently under review, toward a revised Metro 2050 plan. How should we think about key aspects of this and other local and regional plans, in light of the pandemic? For example, strategy 4.2 of our regional plan seeks to “Develop healthy and complete communities with access to a range of services and amenities.” For those struggling, now as before the pandemic, to find housing that is suitable for their household, affordable and in good repair, and located in a neighbourhood where they can access what they need, changes are needed in the direction we are heading, away from what was sadly considered “normal” pre-pandemic.


Laura Colini, Senior Policy Advisor, EU UIA/URBACT
Niamh Moore Cherry, Geography, University of College Dublin
Erin Rennie, Senior Planner, Metro Vancouver
Rebecca Schiff, Health Sciences, Lakehead University
Sierra Tasi Baker, Sky Spirit Consulting 

Moderator: Yushu Zhu, SFU Urban Studies