Meet Uwa: The New Dean of CSAHS Brings Fresh Ideas and Perspectives

Posted on Sunday, December 18th, 2022

A headshot of Uwa Idemudia, a bald dark-skinned man who is smiling at the camera wearing a light-blue shirt.Changes in leadership present opportunities to consolidate existing strength, develop new ideas, foster curricula innovations and deploy our collective energy to push for new heights in our college. That’s exactly what Dr. Uwafiokun Idemudia plans to bring to the table as the new Dean of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. Dr. Idemudia, who goes by Uwa, is keen to share fresh insight and passion gathered from experiences spanning across different continents and disciplines. 

Raised by his grandmother in Nigeria, Uwa is grounded by lessons she taught him growing up. “My grandmother used to organize a ROSCA [Rotating Savings and Credit Association] where women get together and put money into a pot, and then every month one woman takes it and invests in her business,” Uwa explains. “Every meeting, my grandmother would be the first one there and settle into a chair, but she’d always give it up and sit on the floor. I asked her, ‘Grandma, why do you always give up your chair? You got here first!’ and she asked in return, ‘Would you go to a place where you weren’t treated well? My responsibility is to make my fellow women feel comfortable and engaged, so we can come together and solve the problems we can’t solve alone.’ That lesson stuck with me, and I strive to bring that mindset wherever I go, to make people feel welcome and appreciated so we work together and come up with creative solutions.” 

Being welcoming and collaborative doesn’t mean that Uwa shies away from disagreement. He sees differences and disagreements as key to finding the best way forward. As he steps into the role of Dean, Uwa is committed to both the principles and practices of collegial governance and he is open to pursuing ideas that will achieve the best possible outcomes for the college. 

“I see my responsibility as being a servant leader, helping to articulate the concerns of everyone in the college to the university administration and advocating on your behalf to help you do your jobs better and improve the student experience,” said Uwa. 

In his vision for the future of CSAHS, Uwa has three main priorities: focusing on student experience and the retention and recruitment of international students; building on the progress that has been made in the college with regards to equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity by diversifying students, staff and curriculum; and supporting research and teaching excellence, especially as it relates to promoting and supporting research collaboration between students and faculty. 

To achieve this vision, Uwa hopes to listen and learn from colleagues as well as bring fresh insights derived from his own experiences. 

“In my role as the chair of the Social Science Department at York, the largest department at the university with over 12,000 students, I saw that students were attracted to interdisciplinary programs because they’re career oriented. I see that as a great strength of CSAHS, to use our interdisciplinary nature to build relationships, break departmental silos and come together to address the challenging issues of our time,” said Uwa. 

Uwa lived in Nigeria until he was 24, attended school in England and France, and worked at York University for the past fifteen years, and holds an Honours B.Sc in biological sciences from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, an MA in diplomatic studies and international affairs from the University of Westminster and a Ph.D. in geography from Lancaster University.  

Like his education, Uwa’s research is interdisciplinary and spans a wide range of cultures and places. His work includes investigating important global challenges such as the relationship between extractive companies, local communities and the environment; the changing role of business in international development; the role of natural resources in economic development; and Black geographies. At present, he is working on three research projects: the first two projects are funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) through an Insight grant on Business and Peacebuilding in the Niger Delta and a Partnership-engaged grant on Black communities' resilience and the COVID-19 pandemic. The third project focuses on human trafficking and survivors' rehabilitation. 

Uwa began his five-year term as Dean of CSAHS in January 2023. Follow CSAHS on Twitter and Instagram @CSAHS_UOG to learn more about Uwa as we continue to help introduce him to the CSAHS community in the upcoming months. 

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