Betsy Donald is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Queen’s University. She is also a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner. She teaches, does research and consults in the field of economic geography with a particular focus on innovation and regional economic development, urban planning and governance, and sustainable food systems. She has degrees from McGill (B.A. History), York (M.E.S. Environmental Studies) and the University of Toronto (M.Sc.Pl. Planning, Ph.D. Geography). She has over 45 publications including articles in the Journal of Economic Geography, Urban Studies, Regional Studies and Environment and Planning A. She has been a Visiting Scholar Harvard University (2005-7), a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (2012-13), and was the Eccles Centre Visiting Professor in North American Studies at the British Library, London, UK in 2012-13. She is currently an editor of the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. Betsy has had many SSHRC-funded research projects and won awards for her research including the Governor General's Academic Gold Medal.
Dr. Donald enjoys teaching and in recent years has offered the following
Gphy 227: Cities: Geography, Planning and Urban Life
Ggphy337: Regional Development Theory and Policy
Gphy 338: Urban Political Geography
Gphy 403: Geography of Sustainable Food Systems
Gphy 442: City-Regions in a Global Age
Gphy 882: Political-Geography of City Regions
She also enjoys working with post-doctoral, doctoral and masters students
and welcomes inquiries from interested new students.
Dr. Donald has a wide range of interests – all of them connected to the spatial dimensions of contemporary socio-economic-political change. Her three main research interests are: (1) Cities (2) Food; and (3) Rural Economies
(1) Cities: urban policy and its impact
Keywords under this theme: urban governance, austerity in the city, crisis, economic change, urban finance, economic development, urban policy, urban political geography
Cities and all their complexities fascinate me. My interest in cities are multidisciplinary, based in geography and drawing from planning, political science, economics and social psychology perspectives in both present and historical context. My academic approach to cities in echoed in the following passage from Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson in A Companion to the City (2000:1)
It is no longer possible, if ever was, to look at the city from one perspective – be it cultural or economic. Instead cities need to be understood from a variety of perspectives in the recognition that the cultural/social constructs, and is constructed by, the political/economic and vice versa. It is only when we adopt such a complex and textured reading of cities that we will begin to be able to address the pressing social, economic, and environmental questions faced by cities across the world.
I have chosen to focus primarily (although not exclusively) on North American cities as a way into exploring these complexities. I strive to be analytically diverse yet rooted in theories of urban political economy. This was the approach I used in my doctoral dissertation, which examined the economic challenges to and political responses of Toronto’s major governance restructuring in the late 1990s. Fast forward 15 years, and it is interesting to see how much those structural governance changes from the 1990s are impacting on the politics of Toronto today.
I am currently working on a proposal to study the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis on Canadian municipalities. There is a common perception in the academic and policy discourse that Canadian municipalities have fared quite well relative to localities in other countries since the global financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent state austerity responses. Yet little work has actually examined how the global recession and halting recovery is playing out both in inter and intra-urban contexts across the Country. Certainly we know the response has been varied; we also know that there are quite strong austerity discourses at play in different cities across the country. To prepare for this new research direction, I recently edited a themed issue on Austerity in the City in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society (2014).
Donald, B. (Co-investigator). 2006-2009. “The Social Dynamics of Economic Performance in Canadian City-regions – Kingston, Ontario”, part of a SSHRC MCRI Grant with Drs. D. Wolfe and M. Gertler (PIs), Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
Donald, B. (Principal Investigator). 2003-2007. “Quality of Life and the New Economy in Boston and Toronto”. SSHRC – INE Grant.
Publications in Urban Studies, Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society, Journal of Urban Affairs, Environment and Planning A, Professional Geographer, Space and Polity
(2) Food: innovation in sustainable systems
Keywords: innovation in small and medium-sized food enterprises, creative food economy, food deserts, food retail and changing landscapes, the grape and wine industry
I have a long standing interest in sustainable food systems. I am particularly interested in food’s capacity to embed local jobs and shape a place’s social, environmental and economic sustainability not only through local, organic and biodynamic farming, but also through processing and distribution practices that reduce carbon footprints by reducing waste and conserving soil, energy, water, and farmland. I have written quite a bit about the rise of the creative food economy subsector and in particular the role of small and medium-sized enterprises that seek to embrace sustainable food practices. In 2012-13, I spent time at the British Library researching the history of the American industrial food system from its early years in the 1920s to its world dominance in the post-war period. This research drew on the major business and science food journals of the period to show how the industry, in its own voice, views its contributions to the American economy and to global society. I am currently writing a manuscript on The Rise and Fall of the American Industrial Foodscape.
Donald, B. (Principal Investigator). 2012-2013. “Food and the City: the making and remaking of the American Urban Foodscape”, Eccles Centre Visiting Professor in North American Studies for Research at the British Library, London, UK.
Donald, B. (Principal Investigator). 2009-2012. “The Creative Food Economy: a new menu for sustainable economic development”. SSHRC - Business, Finance and Management. 2009-2012.
Donald, B. (Principal Investigator). 2008-2013. “The Creative Food Economy”. Queen’s Chancellor’s Research Award.
Donald, B. (Principal Investigator). 2008-09. “Ontario’s Creative Economy – the Food Industry” Province of Ontario, through the Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
Donald, B. (Co-investigator). 2004-2007. “Ontario’s Innovation and Cluster Development – a study on the food cluster”, part of a SSHRC MCRI Grant with Drs. D. Wolfe and M. Gertler (PIs), Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
Publications in Regional Studies, Economic Geography, Journal of Economic Geography, Environment and Planning A
(3) Rural: rural places, small cities, slow-growing places
Keywords: rural revitalization, small cities, main streets, slow-growth and decline, place-based policies, arts and culture and agri-food
Like many geographers, I am interested in learning more about the places I experience on a daily basis. I live in a small town and am aware of the challenges and unique opportunities facing smaller cities and places. Over the years, I have worked on various research projects addressing issues such as the social dynamics of small city economies, main street renewal, rural revitalization, and planning for slow-growth and decline. There are many examples around the world of cities and places that have changed development course through creative and collective action. I am particularly interested in the potential of creative industries and people (such as the role of arts, culture, food and wine) in rural and small-city revival. In addition to my scholarly work in this area, I have been a professional planning consultant on a variety of projects in the area of economic impact and local and community economic development.
Donald, B. (Co-investigator). 2011-2013. “Sustainable Economic Development in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve”, Research segment of a SSHRC Partnership Grant through the Monieson Centre, Queen’s School of Business with Dr. Y. Chan (P.I.)
Donald, B. (Principal Investigator). 2008. “The Economy of Prince Edward County”, Monieson Centre, Queen’s School of Business.
Donald, B. (Principal Investigator). 2008-09. “Ontario’s Creative Economy – Northern Ontario” Province of Ontario, through the Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
Publications in Journal of Rural and Community Development, Chapters in books published by Oxford University Press, Routledge, Ashgate, University of Toronto Press; and publications for The Monieson Centre, Queen’s School of Business.
Donald, B., Glasmeier, A., Gray, M., & Lobao, L. (2014). Austerity in the city: economic crisis and urban service decline?. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 7(1), 3-15.
Donald, B. 2013. "Food retail and access after the crash: rethinking the food desert problem". Journal of Economic Geography, 13(2), 231-237.
Donald, B., Gertler, M. S., & Tyler, P. 2013. "Creatives after the crash". Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 6(1), 3-21.
Lepawsky, J. Hall, H. and B. Donald. 2012. “Talent Attraction and Retention in Small Cities”, inThe Social Dynamics of Talent Attraction. In Jill Grant (Ed.), Toronto: University of Toronto Press, in press.
Hall, H.M. and Donald, B. 2011. Clarifying Creativity and Culture in a Small City on the Canadian Periphery: Challenges and Opportunities in Greater Sudbury. In A. Lorentzen and B. van Heur (Eds), Cultural Political Economy of Small Cities (19 pages). London: Routledge.
Bedore, M. and B. Donald. 2011. “Revisiting Class in the Social Dynamics of Economic Performance”, Journal of Urban Affairs, March, 47, pp. 183-217.
Donald, B. and H. Hall. 2010. “Slow Growth and Decline in Canadian Cities”, Chapter in Canadian Cities in Transition. In R. Walker, T. Bunting and P. Filion (Eds), 4th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 276-292.
Donald, B. 2010. “Food System Planning and Sustainable Cities and Regions: the role of the firm in sustainable food capitalism”, Imagining Sustainable Food Systems. In A. Blay-Palmer (Ed.). Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 115-134.
Donald, B. Gertler M., Gray, M. and Labao, L. 2010. “Re-regionalizing the Food System?” Editors Introduction to Special Issue on Food Relocalization, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 3 (2), pp. 171-175.
Lewis, N. and B. Donald. 2010. “A New Rubric for ‘Creative City’ Potential in Canada’s Smaller Cities” Urban Studies, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 29-54.
B. Donald. 2009. "From
Kraft to Craft: innovation and creativity in Ontario's Food Economy" Working
paper published by the Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management,
University of Toronto, February 2009, ref. 2009-WPONT-001
B. Donald. 2009. "A
New Menu for Ontario's Food Economy" Policy insight, Martin Prosperity
Institute, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, February
H. Hall and B. Donald. 2009. "Innovation
and Creativity on the Periphery: challenges and opportunities in Northern
Ontario" Working paper published by the Martin Prosperity Institute,
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, February 2009, ref.
Donald, B. 2009. “Contested notions of quality in a buyer-driven
commodity cluster: the case of food and wine in Canada” European
Planning Studies, in press.
Donald, B. 2008. “Food Systems Planning and Sustainable Cities
and Regions: the role of the firm in sustainable food capitalism”
Regional Studies, 42(9), pp. 1251-1262.
Donald, B. and A. Blay-Palmer. 2008. The Urban Creative Food Economy in
The Contemporary Canadian Metropolis, edited by C. Morgan, R. Dennis and
S. Shaw, Institute for the STudy of the Americas, Washington: Brookings
Institution Press, in press.
Blay-Palmer, A. and B. Donald. 2008. “Food Fears: making connections”,
in Food Fears: from industrial to sustainable food systems, Aldershot:
Ashgate, pp. 1-16.
B. Donald and A. Blay-Palmer. 2008. “Eating Organic in an Age of
Insecurity” in Food Fears: from industrial to sustainable food systems,
Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 109-120.
Blay-Palmer, A. and B. Donald. 2008. “Manufacturing Food Fear”
in Food Fears: from industrial to sustainable food systems, Aldershot:
Ashgate, pp. 121-132.
Donald, B. and A. Blay-Palmer 2007. “Eating
Organic in an Age of Insecurity”, Lien Social et Politique,
vol. 57, Spring, pp. 63-73.
Blay-Palmer, A. and B. Donald 2007. “Manufacturing
fear: The role of food processors and retailers in constructing alternative
food geographies". In M. Kneafsey, L. Holloway and D. Maye (eds.)
Constructing ‘Alternative’ Food Geographies: Representation
and Practice, Elsevier Press, forthcoming.
Blay-Palmer, A. and B. Donald. 2006. “A
Tale of Three Tomatoes: the rise of new food economies in Greater Toronto”
Economic Geography, vol. 82 (4), pp. 383-399.
Donald, B. and A. Blay-Palmer. 2006. “The
Urban Creative Food Economy: producing food for the urban elite or social
inclusion opportunity?” Environment and Planning A, October,
vol. 38 (10): 1901-1920.
Donald, B. 2006. “From
growth machine to ideas machine: the new politics of local economic development
in the knowledge-intensive city” in The Competitive City in
the New Economy, edited by Diane-GabrielleTremblay and Rémy Tremblay,
Montreal: University of Quebec Press, Political Economy Collection.
Donald, B. 2005. “The
politics of local economic development in Canada’s global cities:
new dependencies, new deals and a new politics of scale?” Space
& Polity, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 261-291, December.
Donald, B. D. Morrow with A. Athanasiu. 2003 Competing
for Talent: implications for social and cultural policy in Canadian city-regions
A report prepared for Strategic Research and Analysis (SRA) Strategic
Planning and Policy Coordination, Department of Canadian Heritage, May
14, 2003, 43 pages.
Donald, B. 2002. “Spinning
Toronto’s Golden Age: the making of a ‘city that worked’"
Environment and Planning A, vol. 34, no. 12, pp. 2127-2154.
Donald, B. 2002. “The
Permeable City: Toronto’s Spatial Shift at the Turn of the Millennium”
The Professional Geographer, vol. 54, no. 2, pages 190-203