University of Toronto

Innis Alumni & Friends

Kara Naklicki

Class of 2013 – USP

Kara Naklicki graduated with an HBA in Urban Studies, Human Geography, and Political Science from U of T in 2013. She spent a lot of time at Innis as an executive member of the Urban Studies Student Union (URSSU) and fan of the fresh juice at the Innis Cafe. “I liked U of T and Innis so much that I stayed – I am currently a Master of Science in Urban Planning candidate in the Department of Geography and a teaching assistant for INI235 (Intro to Urban Studies), the course that introduced me to the field of urban planning.” Kara also researches the potential for real estate acquisition by non-profits for the Centre for Social Innovation, and is interested in housing, real estate, and community development in general. “I very much enjoyed my time at Innis and strongly encourage any student interested in cities to take an urban studies course and explore service learning.”

Q: Where does your passion for urban issues and urban planning stem from?

A: My passion for urban issues and planning stems from the belief that there are many potential ways to make cities healthier and more equitable places for all residents. Through planning, it is possible to combine the visions of the public with policy objectives and technical principles to create spaces that facilitate community, activity, and diversity. While it is already a great city, Toronto is in dire need of affordable housing and transportation infrastructure (among other things), to which planners have much to contribute in advocating for, planning, and implementing.

Q: Transitioning from Innis student to Innis teacher is pretty singular. What’s that been like?

A: Being a teaching assistant for the Urban Studies program has been a great experience because it feels like coming full circle. INI235 introduced me to urban studies, planning, and service learning, so I am grateful for the opportunity to assist Professor Brail in continuing this introduction to current students.

Q: Any tips or advice for current students?

A: Knowing how beneficial service learning has been to my understanding of the city and my potential place in it, I encourage students to fully engage in their service learning placements and to continue to seek out opportunities to learn by doing. I would expand this advice to all current students – take the chance to volunteer whenever possible! Your undergraduate goes by very quickly, but the skills you learn and connections you make through volunteering can help you to ground your academic pursuits in practical applications.

Q: What would be your “Big Idea” for Toronto?  (i.e. how to improve the city, etc.)

A: My ‘big idea’ for Toronto is a ‘be a ____ for a day’ series. There is often a sense of disconnection between different groups or organizations that would benefit from greater understanding or co-operation. For example, many Torontonians aren’t aware of what urban planners do, or consequently, their own rights in the public consultation process of urban planning. Service learning has demonstrated to me the value of learning by doing, which I think could be a very enlightening and beneficial concept if expanded to the city as a whole.


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