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Robert Oliver

Associate Professor
Robert Oliver
203 Wallace Hall


·     Geography of the Modern City

·     Urban-Political Geography

·     Mega-Event Planning and Politics (with a particular interest in waterfront        development and sport development)

·     Sustainable Urbanization and Smart Cities

I moved from Canada to Virginia Tech in the summer of 2007. 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 are actually being leveraged to achieve a variety of urban and political objectives. I am also interested in the politics of urban change with newer research interests seeking to explore how the continued quantification of cities through various efforts of experimental design and smart city building is altering the geography of everyday life.

Courses Recently Taught:

·     Introduction to Human Geography (GEOG 1004)

·     Sustainable Urbanization (GEOG 2244/SPIA 2244)

·     Geography of North America (GEOG 2214)

·     The U.S. City (GEOG 3244)

Recent Publications:


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


Oliver, R. (2017). “Sport mega event planning in Toronto: From a democratic demand to a democratic demise.” The Canadian Geographer / Le Geographe canadien. 61(2): 292-299.

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.

Bellas, L. and R. Oliver. (2016). “Rescaling Ambitions: Waterfront Governance and Toronto’s 2015 Pan American Games.” Journal of Urban Affairs. 38(5): 676-691.