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Leading Urban Change

Delivered by Rotman Executive Programs and U of T's School of Cities

Driving equitable urban change in cities requires a distinctive set of skills and tools combined with collaborative approaches to partnership. Rotman and the School of Cities are proud to launch Leading Urban Change, an essential program that prepares mid- to senior-level city officials, public and private sector leaders to confront complex challenges while deepening their understanding of emergent models of leadership, impact measurement, implementation, relevant party engagement and systems-wide change.

Cities are the solution to our global problems, because they create a platform for people to come together and innovate solutions. At the School of Cities, we teach you how to build soft power — the art of convening people and surfacing new ideas that draw others to the table.

In this course, University of Toronto faculty from the School of Cities and the Rotman School of Management help you shift from a scarcity mindset focused on our deficits, to an abundance mindset based on leveraging our assets. Urban development does not need to be a zero sum game.

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Concerned about polarization in your community? This course shows you how to engage in meaningful dialogue about difficult urban projects, to listen to different perspectives with an open heart and mind, understand people’s lived experience, and use that common ground to uncover new possibilities. We provide a safe, intimate space for leaders to explore difficult issues and new paths forward.

Leading Urban Change is a project accelerator. We expect you to come to this course with a project or program that you are working on so we can work together on creating a mindset and approach that will eliminate your roadblocks.

What you'll learn

  • Make better decisions across teams, divisions, and effective partnerships with the private, public, and non-profit sectors.
  • Understand the importance of data and narrative as key components of organizational strategy and performance.
  • Develop a shift in mindset on how to push forward equitable urban change.

The program combines the School of Cities’ flagship model of multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches to problem solving with the Rotman School of Management’s world-renowned faculty, research institutes and network of global partnerships. The result? We expect to shift the mindset of participants to help create a new culture of urban change management.



Karen Chapple, Featured Faculty

Director, University of Toronto School of Cities

Karen Chapple, Ph.D., is the Director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, where she also serves as Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning. She is Professor Emerita of City & Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as department chair and held the Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Urban Studies. Chapple studies inequalities in the planning, development, and governance of regions in the Americas, with a focus on economic development and housing. 

Richard Florida, Featured Faculty

Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy

Richard Florida is University Professor, Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy at the Rotman School of Management and Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, School of Cities, University of Toronto. Florida has held professorships at George Mason University and Carnegie Mellon University and taught as a visiting professor at Harvard and MIT. Florida earned his Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. His research provides unique, data-driven insight into the social, economic and demographic factors that drive the 21st century world economy. 

Meet the Faculty and Instructors teaching in Leading Urban Change

Throughout the program you will gain the skills to:

  • Understand cross-sectoral dynamics and strategies
  • Acquire skills to build trust with partners/relevant parties/constituents
  • Understand silo-busting strategies
  • Use urban data for decision-making and narrative construction
  • Understand the elements of locational strategy
  • Clarify fiscal constraints and opportunities for urban change and development
  • Demonstrate inclusive leadership and cultural competencies

Frequently asked questions


Photo by Jamie Hogg. Image shows a picture of Professor Richard Florida against a brick wall with graffiti. Text in a green box reads: "There's a distinction between where people are moving and where people are innovating," followed by his name and title and the Rotman Executive Programs logo 

Application Process

Before beginning the application process, please review the application policies. To apply, complete the online application form.

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Each application is reviewed by Rotman's admissions committee to ensure participants have the appropriate academic and work experience.

Participant Notification Process

If space is available and eligibility requirements are met, participants will receive a notice of admission within 10 days of receipt of a completed application and fee deposit.


Payments can be made online. A deposit of 50% of the program fee (or $4,000 if the program fee is over $8,000) is required at time of application. If the full fee is not paid at the time of application, the balance of the program fee is due 30 days after receipt of invoice or 30 days before program start date, whichever is first. Fees will be refunded to those not accepted into the program.

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Date and fees

Dates and fees

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Spring 2024
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Rotman School of Management
Toronto, ON

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Participant profile:
Leaders with a passion and curiosity for integrating across traditional silos to build and execute an urban change agenda, including:

  • Mid- to senior-level city leaders from municipalities in Canada
  • Mid to senior public servants in provincial and federal government
  • Senior leaders in real estate, development, urban planning, transportation and mobility, housing, community services
  • Elected officials
  • Recommended: 10 years of work experience
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$5,950 CAD + HST

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