Divercities: EU Research on Hyper-diversified Cities, including Toronto

An introduction to 

DIVERCITIES: Creating social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in today’s hyper-diversified cities

The principal aim of DIVERCITIES is to examine how Europe can benefit from diversity. The project’s central hypothesis is that urban diversity is an asset.  It can inspire creativity and innovation. Create cities that are more liveable and harmonious. Stimulate local and national economies and make European cities more competitive.  A European research team, based at Utrecht University, is conducting a comparative study in 13 European cities. Research will also be carried out in Toronto, as “one of the world’s most diverse cities.”


In April 2014 the two researchers studying Toronto as one of the case study cities made their second visit to interview key informants. 

  • Tuna Tasan-Kok is one of the founding members of the Divercities research network and member of the Scientific Steering Committee of Divercities. She holds a PhD in Urban Geography (2004). She has been working at TUDelft since 2007, and is Associate Professor of Human Geography where she coordinates the Human Geography Track.
  • Donya Ahmadi is a PhD candidate at the OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment. She holds a BEng in Urban Planning and Design from the Art University of Tehran and a Res MSc in Urban Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

They hosted a seminar at Social Planning Toronto, presenting an outline of the nature and progress of Divercities and a summary of what they have learned about Toronto thus far, in order to obtain feedback and discuss next steps in the research. The two April 2014 Toronto presentations:

DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity, Research Project Overview, by Tuna Tasan-Kok, April 2014

DIVERCITIES: Analysing Diversity Policy in Toronto, by Donya Ahmadi, April 2014

Divercities Profile

  • Full title:  Governing Urban Diversity: Creating Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Economic Performance in Today’s Hyper-diversified Cities
  • Financed by:  European Commission, 7th Framework Programme
  • Project coordinator:  Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences
  • Principal investigator:  Prof. Ronald van Kempen
  • Website:  www.urbandivercities.eu/
  • EU-subsidy:  € 6.5 million
  • Duration:  Four years (1 March 2013 to 28 February 2017)


  • to understand the positive and negative effects of socio-economic, socio-demographic, ethnic, and cultural diversity for society, the city and the urban economy;
  • to provide convincing evidence on the positive contribution of diversity to the crucial outcomes of social cohesion, economic performance and social mobility;
  • to analyse and interpret the role of existing policies and governance arrangements, in content as well as in form, in promoting beneficial aspects of urban diversity; and
  • to improve the knowledge base for policy makers on different levels (EU, national, local) by translating the results of this project into innovative instruments and arrangements.

What is Hyper-diversity?

Hyper-diversity refers to an intense diversification of the population, not only in socio-economic, social and ethnic terms, but also with respect to lifestyles, attitudes and activities.

Fourteen Case Study Cities: Antwerp, Athens, Budapest, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Leipzig, London, Milan, Paris, Rotterdam, Tallinn, Toronto, Warsaw, Zurich

Divercities Principle Investigator, Ronald van Kempen, PhD

  • a Professor of Urban Geography at Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences
  • current research focuses on urban spatial segregation, neighbourhood developments, urban governance and its effects on neighbourhoods and residents, social exclusion, and minority ethnic groups
  • coordinator of several large projects, e.g. the EU funded RESTATE project (the comparison and future of 29 post-WWII housing estates in ten European countries)
  • a co-investigator on the SSHRC funded Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership (2012-2019) based at the University of Toronto

Divercities Research Advisory Board

  • Jan Vranken, a sociologist and an Emeritus Professor at Antwerp University (Belgium)
  • David Hulchanski, a professor of Housing and Community Development at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and principal investigator of the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership


  • Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Faculty of Geosciences
  • P.O. Box 80.115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • info@urbandivercities.eu        www.urbandivercities.eu

Participating Partners

  • University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Aalborg University, Denmark
  • University of Tartu, Estonia
  • University Paris-Est Créteil, Paris
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany
  • National Centre for Social Research, Greece
  • Szeged University, Hungary
  • University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
  • Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
  • synergo Mobility-Politics-Space GmbH, Switzerland
  • Middle East Technical University, Turkey
  • University College London, United Kingdom