Maximum City

Special Mention
University of Toronto Schools’ Maximum City program
Project lead: Josh Fullan

Preparing for the future: A two-week mid-summer course and a full-year program teaches young people how to design healthy urban places. Twenty experts in urban development (Including Clean50 Honouree Celesa Horvath), inspired and educated participants from high schools across Toronto this past summer in the second iteration of “Maxiumum Cities.” The project continues to roll out across Toronto, and efforts are afoot to export the program to other Boards of Education across the country.

Maximum City wants the young people who will soon be designing and planning Canadian cities to understand connections between sustainability and urban planning. By providing its students with specialized knowledge in how cities are designed, built, and governed, the Maximum City project is well on its way to creating the next generation of city leaders ready to tackle an expanding list of environmental, social and economic concerns.

Founded by secondary-school language and humanities teacher Josh Fullan with the assistance of a $10,000 provincial grant, the not-for-profit program began as a two-week program in the summer of 2011 with 30 students from secondary schools Marc Garneau Collegiate and the University of Toronto Schools.

University of Toronto Schools language and humanities teacher Josh Fullan founded the Maximum City program in 2011 to engage students in urban planning and design.

The program, now aimed at students from grades 8 to 11, was devised for enthusiastic learners with an interest in design, architecture, transit, city governance, sustainability and urban planning, and allows the students to work with 20 leading experts specializing in these areas, including 2013 Clean50 Honouree Celesa Horvath, who made a special trip from Alberta to share her wealth of expertise.

Maximum City students put their new knowledge to use in an urban design challenge.

Students were introduced to urban design topics through expert-run modules such as “Built City,” “Planned City,” “Engaged City,” Transit City,” “Liveable City,” “Pedestrian City” and “Governed City.” In practice, students learned about Toronto cycling infrastructure from the seat of a bicycle, explored city parks, visited construction sites and toured neighborhoods.

Maximum City students work with a cycling consultant to understand the role of the bicycle in urban transportation during the Cyclist City module.

Students explore sections of Toronto destined for redevelopment in the Planned City module.

This year, Maximum City will be not only a summer program but also part of students’ in-school curriculum throughout the 2012-13 academic year.

A new “Sustainable City” module, along with the Park City and Smart City modules, is targeted for broader distribution among schools and educators. Students from the summer cohorts have remained engaged in the program and continuing to meet for regular follow-up sessions that provide feedback crucial to shaping program direction. This student feedback will help determine connections between education and sustainability, and new strategies to improve both.

Celesa reported to us that she had been very impressed with the quick grasp of the issues many of the students demonstrated in the unique and creative approaches taken to their final projects.

To learn more about the Maximum City project and its impact on our future, please visit