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Damian Collins

Damian Collins, PhD



Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

About Me

I am a human geographer with particular interests in cities, human rights and housing. 

In broad terms, my work 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


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

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


HGP 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.

HGP 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.

HGP 343 Space, Place and Health

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

HGP 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.