Damian Collins, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Science - Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Admin

Pronouns: He/His


Professor, Faculty of Science - Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Admin


Area of Study / Keywords

cities health housing human rights


My work as a human geographer explores the public aspects of contemporary social life - specifically public policies, public services and public spaces. I seek to understand why these "public things" are important, and why we collectively devote so much effort to debating them. These debates occur at all scales, from informal conversations through to major constitutional challenges.

Rights claims often play a critical role in shaping public policies, public services and public spaces. I explore the way in which rights are influential in shaping "who gets what where, and how" (Smith D.M., 1974). The right to housing is of central importance in my current SSHRC-funded research.

At a more applied level, I am concerned to identify and understand the ways in which public policies, public services and public spaces can support human health and wellbeing. I do this because I believe health is a resource for everyday living that everyone has the right to attain.


My BA and MA (Hons) were in Geography at the University of Auckland

My PhD was in Geography at Simon Fraser University. I worked in the Legal Geography Research Group


I am the Director of the Community Housing Canada Research Partnership, which sits within the Collaborative Housing Research Network

Since taking up my position at the University of Alberta in 2008 I have also worked in the following research areas:

  • Housing affordability
  • Homelessness and Housing First
  • Smoke-free environments
  • Coastal development and recreation
  • Urban public spaces
  • Health-promoting places

Lab: The Collins Lab for Urban Excellence (CLUE)

Tory 3-86

Community Housing Canada Project Coordinator:

Research Team:

  • Laura Bates, PhD student
  • Rebecca Bolen, BA student
  • Erika Cizek, MA student
  • Kenna McDowell, MA student
  • Pablo Argibay Wikander, PhD student

Recent Graduates:


HGEO 240 Cities and Urbanism

Introduction to urban geography and planning emphasizing interactions between the built environment and processes of social and economic change. Topics include urban form, housing and diversity in North American cities.

HGEO 341 Social & Cultural Geography

Connections between space, society and culture at multiple scales. Formation and significance of cultural landscapes, and shaping of social life by spatial arrangements.

HGEO 343 Geographies of Health & Health Care

Geographic research on health and health care, including environmental, social, individual and institutional factors.

HGEO 499 / PLAN 499 Practical Study in Human Geography & Planning (Field School)

Intensive field or practical study in Human Geography and Planning, typically as part of a team working off-campus. 


HGEO 240 - Cities and Urbanism

Introduction to urban geography and planning emphasizing interactions between the built environment and processes of social and economic change. Topics include urban form, housing and diversity in North American cities. Prerequisite: Any *3 course. Not available to students with credit in HGP 240.

Browse more courses taught by Damian Collins

Scholarly Activities

Research - Editorial roles

I am on the International Editorial Board of Geography Compass Social (previously Editor from 2015-2020).

I am on the International Editorial Boards of Health & Place and Housing Studies.


Using twitter to investigate responses to street reallocation during COVID-19: Findings from the U.S. and Canada

Author(s): Shirgaokar M., Reynard D., Collins D.
Publication Date: 10/15/2021
Publication: Transportation Research Part A
Volume: 154
Page Numbers: 300-312
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2021.10.013

Assessing Housing First programs from a right to housing perspective

Author(s): Stadler, S.L., Collins, D.
Publication Date: 9/21/2021
Publication: Housing Studies
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2021.1982873

The reticent state? Interpreting emergency responses to homelessness in Alberta, Canada

Author(s): Evans, J., Stout, M., Collins, D., McDowell, K.
Publication Date: 9/6/2021
Publication: Housing Studies
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2021.1977783

Growth over resilience: How Canadian municipalities frame the challenge of reducing carbon emissions

Author(s): Reynard, D., Collins, D., Shirgaokar, M.
Publication Date: 4/3/2021
Publication: Local Environment
Volume: 26
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 448-460
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2021.1892046

Does Housing First policy seek to fulfil the right to housing? The case of Alberta, Canada

Author(s): Collins D., Stout M.
Publication Date: 3/16/2021
Publication: Housing Studies
Volume: 36
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 336-358
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2019.1707782

“When we do evict them, it’s a last resort”: Eviction prevention in social and affordable housing

Author(s): Collins, D., de Vos, E., Evans, J., Severson Mason, M., Anderson-Baron, J., Cruickshank, V., McDowell, K.
Publication Date: 3/15/2021
Publication: Housing Policy Debate
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/10511482.2021.1900890

Public spaces, urban

Author(s): Collins, D., Stadler, S.L.
Publication Date: 2020
Publication: International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2e
Volume: 11
Page Numbers: 103-111
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-102295-5.10212-4

"Take whatever you can get": Practicing Housing First in Alberta

Author(s): Anderson-Baron, J.T., Collins, D.
Publication Date: 9/14/2019
Publication: Housing Studies
Volume: 34
Issue: 8
Page Numbers: 1286-1306
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2018.1535055

On thin ice: Assembling a resilient service hub

Author(s): Evans, J., Collins, D., Chai, C-A.
Publication Date: 9/1/2019
Publication: Area
Volume: 51
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 451-460
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12448

Campgrounds as service hubs for the marginally housed

Author(s): Kearns, R., Collins, D., Bates, L., Serjeant, E.
Publication Date: 8/1/2019
Publication: Geographical Research
Volume: 57
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 299-311
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-5871.12344

“Celebrated, not just endured”: Rethinking winter cities

Author(s): Stout M., Collins D., Stadler S.L., Soans R., Sanborn E., Summers R.J.
Publication Date: 8/1/2018
Publication: Geography Compass
Volume: 12
Issue: 8
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/gec3.12379

Not a “forever model”: The curious case of graduation in Housing First

Author(s): Anderson-Baron J.T., Collins D.
Publication Date: 4/21/2018
Publication: Urban Geography
Volume: 39
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 587-605
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2017.1375826