Department of Geography and Planning

Department of Geography and Planning
Department of Geography and Planning
Portrait of Maxwell Hartt

Maxwell Hartt

Assistant Professor

I am fascinated with cities and how they change. I am especially interested in the places and processes that are not often celebrated. Places that are shrinking, declining, or aging. In my research and teaching, I explore how population and economic changes shape urban areas and attitudes and how we can improve the places that are important to us.

My education has largely been driven by a desire to make sense of the world – to untangle and understand the complexity swirling all around us. My first foray into research focused quite literally on untangling. My undergraduate thesis (BSc Mathematics, Saint Francis Xavier University) examined the mathematical manipulation and unweaving of knots. My masters research (MSc Systems Science, University of Ottawa) integrated my love of cities and complexity by examining the multidimensional impacts of climate change-induced storm surges. But it was in my doctoral studies (PhD Planning, University of Waterloo) where I finally found a methodological and conceptual balance that matched my interests in cities, complex systems, and social phenomena. My PhD research focused on untangling economic, socioeconomic, demographic, physical, and social processes in shrinking cities and unpacking local planner and practitioner responses to population loss. Since then I have continued to study demographic and economic changes in cities as a Fulbright Scholar at Tufts University, a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto, a Lecturer in Spatial Planning at Cardiff University in Wales, and now as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University.

PhD Planning, University of Waterloo
MSc Systems Science, University of Ottawa
Hon. BSc Mathematics, Saint Francis Xavier University

Links: Ageing High-Rise Neighbourhoods
Twitter: @mhartt

Research Interests:

My research follows two distinct, but related, themes that explore the relationship between significant demographic shifts, quality of life, and planning policy.

The first theme focuses on shrinking cities and challenges the assumption that population loss and economic decline are intrinsically linked. Current projects explore a range of topics, including: prosperous US shrinking cities, the role of innovation in resilient US Rust Belt cities, housing development in shrinking Spanish cities, and the demographic trajectories of Canadian cities.

The second theme explores the demographic aging of neighbourhoods and cities and the potential economic, social, cultural, and physical challenges and opportunities associated with aging. I am interested in how we build supportive, inclusive age-friendly communities. Current projects include: aging in Canadian and Australian suburban neighbourhoods, aging high-rise neighbourhoods in Japan and the UK, and combatting loneliness through blended/virtual retirement villages in times of crisis.

Curriculum Vitae (pdf, 204kB)