model city

For the first time in history, more people in the world live in and around cities than in rural areas. Today, just over half the global population is urban, and the United Nations predicts that this proportion will continue to grow rapidly. In the latest national census, 81% of Canadians identified as urban.

As city populations continue to grow in Canada and around the world, important economic, environmental, and social opportunities and challenges need to be addressed. The goal of urban studies at Waterloo is to educate students to lead this transition to an increasingly urbanized world.

About the program

Waterloo offers an Urban Studies Minor, open to all undergraduate students. Based in the Faculty of Environment, the minor draws from various disciplines to address urban issues and explore solutions and opportunities from different perspectives. It will provide you with the skills to:

  • develop progressive and effective regulatory and economic policies
  • use design and policy to improve the management of natural and built environments
  • create equitable, inclusive and vibrant societies

The Urban Studies Minor will prepare you to pursue professions in both the public and private sectors and increase your competitiveness for graduate programs in a variety of fields.

Themes in urban studies

Core courses in the minor will allow you to explore the wide variety of topics within the urban studies field and provide you with an introduction to four major themes:

  • Urban Economics and Finance: Learn how economic policies influence the behaviours of governments, businesses and residents of cities, and explore how public funds are raised and distributed.
  • Urban Activity and the Environment: Examine the environmental impacts of urban activity: for example, how transportation and the energy use in buildings affect air and water quality.
  • Urban Societies: Explore the role of governance and political leaders in defining and achieving objectives for an urban society. Examine issues involving race and gender, politics, health, housing, and equity.
  • Emerging Global Urban Regions: Most of the world’s urban growth will occur in developing cities in Asia and Africa, where the economic, environmental and social challenges and opportunities related to urbanization can be the most acute. Understand the local context and global impacts of these urban transformations.

You will then select one theme of focus, allowing you to gain a more in-depth understanding of the issues and explore solutions to urban problems within this theme. You'll choose the rest of your electives for the minor based on your chosen theme. Choose from courses in economics, planning, ecology, environmental studies, geography, sociology, political science, international development and more.

Required courses

Students enrolled in any degree program may pursue the Urban Studies Minor.

The Urban Studies Minor requires successful completion of 10 courses, with a minimum cumulative average of 65%. 

See the Undergraduate Calendar for full course requirements.