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Sociology & Anthropology welcomes new faculty member, Prof-Collins Ifeonu

January 05, 2024

Meet our new Assistant Professor, Prof-Collins Ifeonu, a scholar with a passion for research and critical knowledge!

Ifeonu holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Alberta, where he explored the social and political integration of international students from sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. In this exclusive interview, Ifeonu shares insights into his career choice, current areas of research, and ongoing projects. As a researcher, he delves into the impact of neoliberal rationalities on labour, education, and migration policies, with a keen focus on the social and political identities of migrants affected by these systems. Beyond academia, Ifeonu offers valuable advice to students and shares a glimpse into his life outside of work. Join us in welcoming professor Ifeonu to SFU and get to know him behind the research and teaching journey!

Why did you choose this profession?

Ifeonu: I chose this profession because I developed a passion for research and critical knowledge. In short, I love to understand how systems work, why they work, and especially, whose interests are privileged or sidelined by historic or current arrangements.

Tell us about your current areas of research.

Ifeonu: Broadly, I study the effects of neoliberal rationalities on labor, education, and migration policy, with a particular focus on the social and political identities of migrants impacted by these systems. I pursue these interests primarily through two avenues: Firstly: I analyze the content of policies shaping migration flows. Second, I am interested in lives of the migrants themselves, particularly how they adapt to the conditions they encounter in the host country. In this regard, my most recent work has explored the social and political integration of international students from sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

What projects are you currently working on?

Ifeonu: I’m currently examining the experiences of sub-Saharan international students as they transition to permanent residency in Western Canada. Despite the promotion of international students as ‘ideal immigrants’ in Canada, research has shown that less than 30% go on to attain permanent residency. I’d like to uncover the barriers that are stifling this transition.

What is your favourite thing about teaching?

Ifeonu: I consider teaching a privilege. I’m excited by the opportunity to share knowledge and be a facilitator of that sharing process. I love communicating complex ideas to students in a manner that ensures that they can start to see and think differently about themselves and their surroundings. I also love to teach sociology in a style that students can find accessible and practically relevant.

What advice do you have for students?

Ifeonu: First. Learn to give yourself grace, regardless of your successes or disappointments. When you achieve your goals, celebrate it the best way you know how to. When disappointment occurs, be resonant and reflective; take stock, re-strategize, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Also, remember there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to being a “good” student. As a graduate student, I harbored this misconception for a while, and spent a lot of time trying to figure this “best” way. I was convinced it existed and I had to learn it. But after several conversations with supportive friends, colleagues, and mentors, I realized it was nothing but a figment of my imagination. Everybody’s approach differs, and they all arrived at their conclusions based on their estimations of their abilities, preferences, and customs. While there were certainly overlapping themes in their approaches, they were outweighed by individual proclivities. So, I had to figure out my own.

I hope you too will be introspective enough to figure out the work strategy that yields the best outcomes for you.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Ifeonu: Taking long walks and listening to podcasts about a whole bunch of stuff (too many to name here, how much time you got?)

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Ifeonu: I’m happy to begin this important chapter of my life at SFU! I’m equally happy to not be neck deep in snow and frigid temperatures for the first time in five years (Albertans, if you’re reading this, I still love you but no).

In the Spring 2024 term, professor Ifeonu will be teaching SA 304: Social Control, where he will examine how the organization of control (formal and informal) affects both individuals and society. The course will investigate how control takes form, how it functions, the ideologies supporting it, and the resistance it produces.