Robert Oliver

Associate Professor

Current Web site:

  • Research Interests:

    The Geography of the Modern City
    Urban-Political Geography
    Mega-Event Planning and Politics (Sport Development)

    I am an urban-historical geographer who investigates the relationships, relevance, and risks of mega-event bidding (i.e. Olympics) to urban policy, planning, and practice. Most notably, my work on Toronto's fifty-year quest to secure the Olympic Games argues that we need to rethink the 'legacies of losing' and the 'geography of failure' to consider how bids for large sporting events are actually being leveraged to achieve a variety of urban and political objectives. This research has been supported by International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Study Centre [see ].

    A second area of study involves an examination of the shifting landscapes of "Micropolitan America." Micropolitan statistical areas were conceptualized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 2003 to capture the intermediate level of urbanization between larger, more extended metropolitan systems (large core settlement clusters of more than 50,000) and smaller, more localized rural places (less than 10,000 people). This effort is affiliated with Virginia's Tech's, "Save our Towns" initiative (
  • Teaching:

    In all the courses that I instruct my goal is to offer students an invitation to participate in an intellectual conversation. I encourage all participants to become actively involved in lectures and strive to help students imagine themselves as knowledgeable actors. We would be well served to remind ourselves that as geographers often our first understanding of space begins with the space of experience. I try to offer students opportunities for critical self-reflection on individual experience and I aim to show students that their opinions and judgment matter while challenging them to think about alternative viewpoints/arrangements.

    Recent Courses
    GEOG-1004 Intro Human Geography
    GEOG 2214: Geography of North America
    GEOG 3244: The U.S. City
    GEOG 4984: Public Space in the Modern City
    GEOG 4984/5984: Urban Sustainability
    GEOG 5424: Topics in Political Geography

  • Selected Recent publications:

    Oliver, Robert and John Lauermann. (2017). Failed Olympic Bids and the Transformation of UrbanSpace. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan 

    Oliver, R. (2017). "Sport mega event planning in Toronto: From a democratic demand to a democratic demise." The Canadian Geographer / Le Geographe canadien. [First published online January 12, 2017, DOI: 10.1111/cag.12336]

    Bailey, K. Oliver, R., Gaffney, C. and Kolivras, K. (2017). "Negotiating "New" Narratives: Rio de Janeiro and the "Media Geography" of the 2014 World Cup." Journal of Sport and Social Issues. Vol. 41(1), 70-93. [First published online December 27, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0193723516680159]

    Bellas, L. and R. Oliver. (2016). "Rescaling Ambitions: Waterfront Governance and Toronto's 2015 Pan American Games." Journal of Urban Affairs. (expected in print December 2016). [available ahead of print: DOI: 10.1111/juaf.12292]

Robert Oliver