Research Clusters

Cities and Everyday Life

The Cities and Everyday Life research group encompasses political, cultural, social and economic analysis of urban processes. The primary focus is on the transformation of cities and the impacts of this transformation on urban lives, landscapes, and livelihoods. While our interests are wide ranging, our strengths are in the following overlapping areas:

  • Health, Housing and Marginalization
  • Governance, Social Justice and Institutions
  • Cultures, Economies and Identities
  • Mobility, Access and Transportation

Cluster Members: Ron Buliung, Deborah Cowen, Pierre Desrochers, Amrita Daniere, Matthew Farish, Kanishka Goonewardena, Jason Hackworth, Paul Hess, Mark Hunter, Vincent Kuuire, Deborah Leslie, Virginia Maclaren, Katharine Rankin, Susan Ruddick, Andre Sorensen, Sarah Wakefield, Alan Walks, Kathleen Wilson

Climate Processes and Climate and Carbon Cycle Modelling

Members of the Geography Department are active in the study of climate processes and in climate and carbon cycle modelling over a range of spatial and temporal scales, including responses to change in climate in surface properties. Focus areas include energy and mass exchange processes in glacier basins, carbon cycling within forest and wetland ecosystems (Chen), ocean modelling and the analysis of high-latitude oceanic and sea ice processes and observed changes (Gough), analysis and modelling of past long-term changes in the carbon cycle, and long-term and global scale anthropogenic changes in climate and the carbon cycle (Harvey).

Cluster members: Jing Chen, William Gough, Danny Harvey, Igor Lehnherr

Earth-Surface Processes and Hydrology

The study of the processes of landform change involving the measurement and modelling of earth surface processes. Time scales of study vary from event-based processes driven by individual storm cycles up to process changes over Quaternary time. Sediment transport and the sedimentology of surficial deposits are key elements in understanding landscape dynamics, and the group makes use of field and flume experimental methods. Focus areas include glacio-marine and glacio-lacustrine processes, fluvial processes and landscapes, biogeochemical cycles and contaminants, watershed hydroecology, and land-atmosphere interactions.

Cluster Members: Laura Brown, Jing Chen, Joseph Desloges, Igor Lehnherr, Carl Mitchell

Nature, Society and Environmental Change

Members of the Department of Geography are engaged in research on the products of human-driven environmental change – phenomena that can only be fully understood through the incorporation of both bio-physical and social analyses. These cross-disciplinary interactions include studies of environmental governance, citizenship and resource management, environmental history and legacies of contamination, traditional ecological knowledge and power dynamics expressed through environmental issues. Sustainability of urban ecosystems is another major areas of expertise.

Cluster Members: Alana Boland, Jing Chen, Tenley Conway, Amrita Daniere, Matthew Farish, Marney Isaac, Thembela Kepe, Virginia Maclaren, Kenneth MacDonald, Scott Prudham, Sarah Wakefield

Paleoclimate and Biogeography

Faculty in the Department of Geography are engaged in biogeographic research to identify and explain spatio-temporal patterns in species distributions on a variety of scales. Major areas of expertise include landscape ecology (Conway), paleoenvironments and responses to long-term climatic changes (Desloges), structuring of freshwater and marine communities (Arhonditsis) and microbial biogeography (Basiliko). Approaches used include GIS, spatial analysis, field work, modelling and a variety of laboratory analyses. Research is carried out in Arctic, boreal, temperate, tropical and coastal biomes.

Cluster Members: Donald Boyes, Tenley Conway,  Joseph Desloges

Political Ecology

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.

Cluster Members: Alana Boland, Susan Bunce, Mike Ekers, Ryan Isakson, Nicole Klenk, Sharlene Mollett, Andrea Olive, Scott Prudham, Raj Reddy, Sue Ruddick,  Neera Singh, Sarah Wakefield

Political Spaces

This group’s starting point is that space is produced at multiple scales through contested power relations. We explore political space through the investigation of the following themes:

  • bodies, socio-spatial ordering of difference, racialization, gender, sexuality, class
  • identity, subjectivity, citizenship, governance
  • neo-liberalism and the social construction of markets
  • security, mobility, transnationalism, critical/geopolitics, and borders
  • commons and counter-cartographies
  • nature, land and rights
  • post-coloniality, modernity, modernization

Cluster Members: Alana Boland, Deborah Cowen, Matthew Farish, Emily Gilbert, Kanishka Goonewardena, Mark Hunter, Thembela Kepe, Deborah Leslie, Kenneth MacDonald, Scott Prudham, Katharine Rankin, Susan Ruddick, Rachel Silvey, Alan Walks


The transportation cluster is engaged in research on urban and regional transportation and land use planning, and its intersection with social, economic, health and environmental conditions of people and places. We have expertise in the following areas:

  • Automobility and automobile dependence
  • Land use, urban form and street design
  • Social equity and environmental justice
  • Accessibility and participation
  • Time use and travel behaviour
  • Transport, health and environment
  • Affordability and gentrification
  • Child and youth transport studies
  • Transport and critical disability studies

Cluster Members: Ron Buliung, Steven Farber, Paul Hess, Matti Siemiatycki, Andre Sorensen, Alan Walks, Michael Widener