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Introducing City Building Ryerson

A new university-wide initiative to collaborate, mobilize and showcase city building and urban innovation at Ryerson
September 15, 2020
Aerial view of the Ryerson quad with the CN Tower in the background

City Building Ryerson will capture the collection of scholarly, research and creative city building initiatives happening across Ryerson.

Ryerson University is proud to announce City Building Ryerson, a university-wide initiative to collaborate, mobilize and showcase the city building and urban innovation taking place across the institution.  

Building on the solid foundation of the Ryerson City Building Institute and its reputation for convening and public engagement, City Building Ryerson will capture the impressive collection of scholarly, research and creative city building initiatives that are happening across the Ryerson campus. These initiatives include multi-disciplinary labs and hubs where innovations are developed and tested in real time, and public policy research centres tackling critical issues related to urban development, smart cities, social equity, urban sustainability and more.

“Embracing a culture of cooperation and seamless partnerships with industry, stakeholders and government, City Building Ryerson will help to demonstrate cutting-edge academic research across all disciplines. We’ll work with external partners on strategic initiatives and provide unique, real-world student learning experiences — all focused on tackling the greatest urban issues of our time,” said Steven N. Liss, Ryerson’s vice-president, research and innovation. 

With this initiative, Ryerson University is taking a strong leadership role in answering today’s challenges while planning ahead for the sustainable cities of the future.

Pamela Robinson will serve as City Building Ryerson’s interim academic director and Cherise Burda has been appointed as City Building Ryerson’s executive director.

As interim academic director, Robinson will provide leadership to strengthen Ryerson’s institutional orientation and strategic focus on city building. She will continue the work initiated by the City Building Institute’s Academic Council and will foster interdisciplinary and collaborative initiatives, strengthen connections across graduate programs oriented towards city building initiatives, and seek synergies across the university's innovation ecosystem to accelerate and scale efforts to tackle real-world challenges.

Robinson brings to the position extensive expertise and experience through her role as director and professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson. Throughout her career as a planner, Robinson’s research and practice have focused on complex, emergent challenges that Canadian communities face. This research began with a focus on cities and climate change and now focuses on emerging technology challenges. Her current research focuses on the question, “who is planning the Canadian smart city?”. She serves on the board of directors of the Metcalf Foundation and is a member of the Toronto Public Library’s Innovation Council.

As City Building Ryerson’s executive director, Burda will leverage her experience as the executive director of Ryerson’s City Building Institute to lead the establishment of City Building Ryerson. Burda’s research, engagement and communications expertise will be an asset as City Building Ryerson advances sustainable urban solutions.

Before joining Ryerson, Burda was the Ontario Director of the Pembina Institute, where she led research in transportation, climate and clean energy policy in Ontario. She spent 12 years in B.C. where she held positions as senior researcher at University of Victoria’s Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy and as program director with the David Suzuki Foundation. In 2013, she was appointed to the Premier of Ontario’s transit investment strategy advisory panel. She currently sits on a number of working groups, including the City of Toronto’s affordable housing advisory panel.

In announcing the new appointments, Liss said, “I am delighted to announce Pamela and Cherise’s appointments. Together, they are exceptionally well positioned to lead City Building Ryerson as we set our sights towards a new bold city-building horizon – one that builds upon existing excellence and strives to create new infrastructure to support community needs and aspirations, and allow us to respond to a changing external environment.”

More information about City Building Ryerson can be found on its online.

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