Picture of Dr. Abraham (Avi) Akkerman

Dr. Abraham (Avi) Akkerman BA, MSc, PhD, MCIP Professor , Department of Geography and Planning

Associate Member, Department of Philosophy; Member, Canadian Institute of Planners; Member, Canadian Population Society

Room 104 Kirk Hall

Research Area(s)

  • City-form and phenomenology of the city
  • Planning and Development
  • Demography and management of growth
  • History and philosophy of the built environment


PLAN 346.3 

Introduction to Urban Design (1990 - ongoing)

A lecture on the history and elements of urban design in context of northern built environments and the contemporary winter-city. Significance of winter solar exposure to humans, wind tunnel blockage, human scale in streetscapes, and present-day urban design dilemmas in a historical perspective are discussed. The class addresses aspects of built-environments from the late European Neolithic, through classical Antiquity to the European Middle Ages and the Renaissance, showing their relevance to contemporary issues in sustainable urban development. Unless sufficiently conversant with any CAD program, students in PLAN 346 are strongly encouraged to acquire basic knowledge in AutoCAD or the freely available CAD program such as Google SketchUP, prior to start of classes. 

GEOG 348.3 

Introduction to Demography (2020 - ongoing)

This course will introduce the students to processes of growth, decline and distribution of human populations. The first half of the term will discuss the pre-historic and historic demography of human populations, from migration waves out of Africa into Eurasia during the Paleolithic, to peopling of the Americas during the Mesolithic and the early Neolithic, the growth and distribution of human populations in Antiquity and the Middle-Ages, and the processes of urbanization and population growth and redistribution since early modernity. The first half of the term closes with discussion on the founding modern demography, Thomas Malthus' Essay on the Principle of Population and his notion of relation between food supply and population growth, and Frank Notestein's formulation of the demographic transition theory. The second half of the term introduces modern demographic data and their sources, the notion of demographic rates, specifically focusing on age-specific fertility and mortality, leading to the construction of the life table and the calculation of life expectancy in a community. The problem of measurement and predictability of human migration is reviewed. The term closes with the outline of population projection methodology as introduced through the twentieth century, applied to latest available Canadian census data.

PLAN 350.3 

Transportation Planning & Geography (2002 - ongoing)

An introduction to the geographical aspects of transportation theory and planning. Major topical areas emphasized are, travel behaviour, transportation planning and policy, and pedestrian network design. Analytic methods in travel behaviour, and design of pedestrian and other transportation networks are examined. Issues in sustainable transportation, and pedestrian traffic in urban space in particular, are emphasized. Spatial syntax of artificial environments is introduced, with a discussion on configuration of, and access to, objects in winter city streetscapes.

PLAN 392.3 

History of the Built Environment from Antiquity to Early Modernity  (2018 - ongoing)

A lecture/seminar on the unfolding of built environments from early Antiquity to late Renaissance, and on the origins of urban planning. Relationship between Copper Age technology, and environmental myths, along with the founding of settlements, is reviewed, leading to discussion on archaic notions of the universe and the Ideal City. Origins of geography and planning as disciplines are further examined in the classical Greco-Roman outlook on the natural and built environments. Subsequent Medieval withdrawal in rigorous thought, particularly as reflected in various Flat Earth notions, is discussed in context of built environments of the Middle Ages. Emergence of rigor in Scholastic thought during the late Medieval period is juxtaposed with the onset of the Little Ice Age and the subsequent urbanization of Europe. The Age of Discovery along with New World explorations, as related to Thomas More's Utopia, is shown related to the founding of New Towns in Europe during the Renaissance.


GEOG 840.3  

Problems in Transportation (2009 - ongoing)

This graduate class reviews major topics and problems that face contemporary transportation, and urban transportation in particular. The emphasis is on humanistic and social aspects of urban transportation, but students are encouraged to venture into urban design aspects of transportation as well.  The major thrust of the class is to place urban transportation within the context of western civilization and the city at the onset of the twenty first century. Students will develop, under the supervision of the instructor, a scholarly paper that could preferably fit into their thesis work, or be later submitted to a scholarly journal. The class will address the following topics: 1. Transportation and the history of urban transportation; 2. City-form and urban transportation; 3. Transportation and urban development; 4. Housing and urban transportation; 5. Demographic aspects of urban transportation; 6. Economic aspects of urban transportation; 7. Social aspects of urban transportation; 8. Approaches to assessment of demand vs. need in transportation; 9. Land use planning and urban transportation; 10. Urban design and urban transportation.


Phenomenology of the built environment

2019.   Philosophical Urbanism: Lineages in Mind-Environment Patterns. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.

2016.   Phenomenology of the Winter-City. New York: Springer.

2015. Myths of the North and origins of city-form: Some reflections across history and prehistory,   Journal of Architecture and Urbanism  39(3): 165-175 .

2014. Towards a phenomenology of the winter-city: Urbanization and mind through the Little Ice Age and its sequels, Studia Phaenomenologica  14: 161-189 .

2014. Platonic myth and urban space: City-form as an allegory, University of Toronto Quarterly  83(4): 757-779.

2014. Winter-cities and mood disorder: Observations from the European city-form at the end of Little Ice Age,   Trames Journal for the Humanities and Social Sciences  18(1): 19-37 .

2013.   Gender myth and the mind-city composite: from Plato's Atlantis to Walter Benjamin's philosophical urbanism,   GeoJournal   78(4): 727-741

2006. Urban superconscious and the return of the Garden Myth,   The Structurist 45/46: 62-68

2001. Urban planning in the founding of Cartesian thought,   Philosophy and Geography  4(2): 143-169 .

2000. Harmonies of urban design and discords of city form: Urban aesthetics in the rise of western civilization, Journal of Urban Design   5(3): 263-286.

Urban design and city-form

2020, with Jingkun Shao. The Bagua as an Intermediary between Archaic Chinese Geomancy and Early European Urban Planning and Design. Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism 2(1): 1-22.

2020.  The Urban Archetypes of Jane Jacobs and Ebenezer Howard. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

2013. Reclaiming the back alley,  Public Sector Digest 10(3): 7-11.

2012.    Philosophical urbanism and the predilections of urban design, Chap. 1 in: Jaroslav Burian (ed.),   Advances in Spatial Planning. InTech: Rijeka, Croatia, pp. 3-26.

2010, with Ariela Cornfeld. Greening as an urban design metaphor: Looking for the city's soul in leftover spaces,   The Structurist 49/50: 30-3 5 .

2009.   Urban void and the deconstruction of Neo-Platonic city-form,   Ethics, Place and Environment 12(2): 205-218.

2008. The city as humanity's evolutionary link: Walking and thinking in urban design,   The Structurist  47/48: 28-33.

2006. Femininity and masculinity in city-form: Philosophical urbanism as a history of consciousness,    Human Studies  29(2): 229-256 .

2005. Towers, gates and open spaces in cities of the Old Testament, in: William A. Dando, Caroline Z. Dando and Jonathan J. Lu (eds.),   Geography of the Holy Land: Perspectives, pp. 246-263. Association of American Geographers (Bible Geography Specialty Group): Washington, D.C.

2004. Philosophical urbanism and deconstruction in city-form: An environmental ethos for the twenty-first century,   The Structurist  43/44: 48-53 .

2002. Altruism and egoism: The Garden and the Citadel,   The Structurist  41/42: 65-72.

2000. Deliberate ambiguity in a finite environment: The urban ecology of artificial items,   Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society  4(1): 87-93 .

1998.   Place and Thought: The Built Environment in Early European Philosophy, Woodridge: London. 228 pp. + vi. 

Demography and management of growth  

2005. Parameters of household composition as demographic measures,   Social Indicators Research  70(2): 151-183 .

2003, with Jitka Rychtarikova. Trajectories of fertility and household composition in the demographic profile of the Czech Republic,   Population and Environment  24(3): 225-254 .

2000. On the Leontief structure of household populations,   Canadian Studies in Population   27(1): 181-193.

1999, with Bill Barry. The population of Saskatchewan, in:   The Atlas of Saskatchewan   (Ka-Iu Fung and Lawrence Martz, eds.), p. 188. University of Saskatchewan: Saskatoon.

1999, with Jiao Sheng He. Economic reforms and family planning in China: The one-child policy in rural Guangdong, 1979-1990,   Canadian Studies in Population  26(1): 39-65 .

1997, with R.M. Bone and J.C. Saku. Qualitative indicators of multiregional demographic change: Potential for developing countries, in: A. Ahmad, D. Noin and H.N. Sharma (eds.),   Demographic Transition: The Third World Scenario, pp. 345-363. Rawat Publications: New Delhi.

1996. A problem in household composition,   Mathematical Population Studies   6(1): 3-18.

1994. Sameness of age cohorts in the mathematics of population growth,   The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science  45(2): 679-691 .

1985. The household composition matrix as a notion in multiregional forecasting of population and households,   Environment and Planning A  17: 355-371.

1982. An index of household composition for the assessment and forecasting of housing needs,   Journal of Mathematical Sociology  8: 283-304.

1980. On the relationship between household composition and population age distribution,   Population Studies   34: 525-534 .

1977. The household composition matrix and its application to migration analysis and population projection,   General Systems  22: 105-109.

Planning and development

2012, with Shinji Shimoura. Discrete choice in commuter space: Small area analysis of diurnal population change in the Tokyo Metropolitan Region,   Computers, Environment and Urban Systems  35(5): 386-397

2009, with Jan Kudrna and Tomas Apeltauer. Urban commuting and daytime population in small areas of a metropolis: A case study of Brno, Czech Republic,   Promet - Traffic & Transportation  21(4): 247-258.

2007, with M.L. Lewry. Transportation and urban development in Saskatoon, in: Saskatchewan: Geographic Perspectives  (B.D. Thraves, M.L. Lewry, J.E. Dale and H. Schlichtmann, eds.), 329-334. Canadian Plains Research Center: Regina.

2006. Housing as a heuristic condition in the simultaneous projection of population and households,   Environment and Planning A  38 (4): 765-790

2004. Age-specific household size as a demographic aspect of regional disparity: Czech Republic, 1991,   Canadian Studies in Population  31(2): 237-260.

2004, with Yewon Hwang-Kurylyk. The origin-destination matrix as an indicator of intrahousehold travel allocation,   Transportation Planning and Technology  27(4): 285-314 .

2000. The diurnal cycle of regional commuter systems: North Wales, 1991,   Geographical Analysis  32(3): 248-266.

1998, with Jiao Sheng He. Geographical patterns of fertility decline in Guangdong: China's population policy through the censuses of 1982 and 1990,   The Canadian Geographer  42(2): 174-179.

1995. Diurnal population cycle and metropolitan commuter exchange: A formal investigation of an urban pattern,   Canadian Journal of Urban Research  4(2): 249-270.

1995. The urban household pattern of daytime population change,   The Annals of Regional Science  29(1): 1-16.

1993. Temporal referencing in a small-area information system: Monitoring land annexation in Edmonton, Canada, 1982-1989,   Geography Research Forum  13: 116-128.

1992. The relational structure of human services planning: An input-output analysis,   Socio-conomic Planning Sciences 26(1): 15-26.

1992. Fuzzy targeting of population niches in urban planning and the fractal dimension of demographic change,   Urban Studies  29(7): 1093-1114 .