Meet your Director

Professor Sanni Yaya, Director of the School of International Development and Global Studies

Welcome to the School of International Development and Global Studies: Canada’s largest school of international development studies. Ever since its founding in 2008, our School has grown to become one of the largest multi and inter-disciplinary units in the University. All of our programs are built that way.

Our renowned affiliated faculties are all distinguished in their various fields and they remain nothing less than extraordinary. Many of our professors have worked in the field for NGOs, the UN, the Canadian federal government, international financial institutions and the private sector. They have expertise in political science, geography, global health, economics, education, law, sociology, anthropology, environmental science, philosophy and in management. We teach both theory and practice.

Our students come from diverse backgrounds and go on to a myriad of graduate programs and careers. One thing our students share in common is a deep interest in the issues, events, and cultures of the world. They strive to help develop new solutions to humanity’s critical problems, to improve global governance both now and in the future and to contribute to enhancing the quality of people’s lives around the world.

We offer degree programs at all three levels: undergraduate, master’s and PhD. Our undergraduate and Master’s programs are amongst the largest such programs in Canada. We have every intention of continuing our growth in the years to come. Our Ph.D. program, now entering its third year, attracts students from around the world and admission to the program is highly competitive; only about 10% of applicants are offered admission. Whichever path our students follow, they will benefit from an education that combines intellectual rigour with a practical focus to allow them to make a beneficial impact on our world.

Students at our School have access to all the resources of the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University’s largest Faculty in terms of enrolment. Our School is not only located in one of the top ten research-intensive Canadian universities, but it is also located in downtown Ottawa, a G8 capital city, right next to the Parliament, federal government departments, embassies, think tanks, media outlets, lobby groups and the headquarters of many major Canadian NGOs. No other School of international development in Canada is so well located.

Even in these days of email, Internet and social media, such physical proximity counts. Our professors and senior fellows are well connected to all kinds of networks of policymakers, public servants, activists, lobbyists, diplomats and journalists. You cannot find that anywhere else in Canada.

And of course, the School - like the rest of the University of Ottawa - is fully bilingual. You can take courses and be supervised in English, French or both; it’s your choice. It is a particularly energizing time to be at uOttawa. Please join our community, and help contribute to a more just and peaceful world.

With my best wishes,

Sanni Yaya, Ph.D.
School of International Development and Global Studies

I did my studies (Where? In what?)

I completed a part of my studies in Africa, which is where I’m from, so I’m very attached to it, before studying for a short time at the University of Laval. After that, I went to the University of Sherbrooke (M.Sc.) and did my doctorate through a program in Montreal that connected four universities (HEC Montreal, McGill, Concordia & UQAM). Thanks to a scholarship, I also spent time as a guest researcher at New York University and as a postdoctoral researcher at Yale.

The best part about my job…

The best part of my job is always the students I work with. Every class, every semester and every year is different. What I love most of all is the nobility of the job, because it isn’t a question of making money, but of people looking for knowledge. Good or bad, a teacher’s influence can change your life. There’s a quote by Khalil Gibran that perfectly sums up my view on teaching: “The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”

What people don’t know about me…

I am a huge soccer fan. I play all year round, twice a week. My friends call me ‘the fox’’ because I’m a very crafty player and never miss a chance to score.

The most important part of my day is…

I’m not particularly attached to routines, other than those that are necessary. I like trying new things, new activities and new habits based on how I’m feeling in the moment. That being said, when I’m writing or working on my research, the evening is the best moment of my day, because there is nothing to distract me. This becomes even more important when I have administrative duties.

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