This year’s Intersections programming is organized by five research clusters in our department: Critical Planning, Labour and Economic Geographies, Physical Geography, Political Spaces, and Transportation. Find below a brief description of each cluster’s interests for the year.


The Critical Planning Research Cluster seeks to enrich planning scholarship by engaging with, and learning from, radical planning practitioners and activists. We will pursue this work by bringing together scholars and activists/practitioners to discuss urgent planning and urban issues. In so doing, we intend to focus especially on critical perspectives and planning strategies that are underrepresented in mainstream discourse, in order to elaborate innovative approaches in the pursuit of social justice and the right to the city. In addition to organizing Intersections lectures, we promote the objectives of the cluster in other ways as well – by co-hosting events and activities and organizing reading groups.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, our theme will be ‘the commons, infrastructures, futures’. Here, and throughout our various events and activities, we seek to encourage discussion and reflection on questions of urban futures. On behalf of whom do we plan cities, urban spaces and linkages? What is at stake in making planning radical, and what practical measures can be taken by critical planners to realize the just city? What would the just city be like? By engaging with a diverse range of theoretical frameworks that seek to centre justice and engage with ‘difference’, including the commons, the right to the city, and anti- and post-colonial approaches, the cluster aims this year to challenge critical planners to engage these questions.


The Labour and Economic Geographies Research Cluster (L.E.G.) seeks to understand how people and places affect and are affected by economic transformations. Members of this research cluster include both geographers and planners who have expressed overlapping interests in: the role of organized labour in contemporary economies, precarious and informal labour, labour and migrations, labour and environments, workers in the Global South, finance and financialization, innovation and knowledge clusters, and the rise of the platform economy. We envision this group as an opportunity to foster conversation and exchange among scholars at different stages of their academic careers.


The Physical Geography Research Cluster focuses on an integrative approach to understanding the earth’s biotic and abiotic systems, including their spatial dynamics and the ways they are altered by human action over time. Members of the cluster are interested in a range of topics including but not limited to climatology, biogeography, hydrology, geomorphology, agroecology, contaminants, paleoenvironments, bioenergy, biogeochemical modelling, and terrestrial remote sensing.


The political ecology research cluster brings together scholars interested in exploring and debating critical perspectives on the human-nature relationship including approaches rooted in political ecology, biopolitics, indigenous philosophy, anti-racist philosophy, decolonialism and more-than-human approaches. Our group will engage in collective readings, sharing published and pre-publicaton papers, circulating new works of interest, hosting speakers and all other activities that the group feels supports our scholarship and critical enquiry.


The Political Spaces research cluster investigates the contested and uneven politics of our human and more-than-human geographies. Members of the cluster are interested in a range of topics regarding the politics of space and the spaces of the political, including classic concerns of political geography such as borders, geopolitics, empire and territory, along with contemporary debates regarding the politics of scale, settler colonialism, race and racism, and feminist, queer and trans geographies. The research projects and interests of members are often connected to the work of communities and social movements and the forms of space they produce and contest.


The Transportation Research Cluster focusses on applied and theoretical aspects of transportation supply, demand, and infrastructure planning across multiple urban/rural contexts and spatial scales. We have overlapping interests in governance and decision making, active travel and health, social and economic impacts of travel, affordability and equity, and environmental costs. Many of the cluster members also develop and apply novel quantitative research methods involving spatial analysis and GIS.  This year our cluster is focusing our activities on invited speakers, community building roundtables, and social events.