Temitope Onifade

Law, Society, and the Regulation of Low Carbon Economies
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I originally thought I’d pursue a grad degree to nurture my interest in research, teaching and volunteerism, which were things I did at a modest level as an undergrad LLB student. Later practicing as a lawyer brought more exposure, so I learned about environmental sustainability. I decided to explore it through a general LLM in Nigeria, and then came to Canada for specialized MA in Environmental Policy and LLM in Energy and Environment to learn more about the broader context of environmental problems. Fortunately, I got a job as a lecturer, but then immediately started thinking about tenure-track professor opportunities. I applied to the PhD for that reason but, after finishing my first year, started seeing the doctoral training as more than just a route to a tenure-track position. I now see it as an opportunity to really think about things and build something (e.g. meaningful academic and community projects) to solve wicked problems. Therefore, I can say I am in the PhD to think and build.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Simple: I have the best fit at UBC. First, my supervisor, Dr Stepan Wood, is a leading Canadian scholar and one of the leading international figures in my area. He is the Canada Research Chair in Law, Society and Sustainability (Tier 1), and leads the Transnational Regulatory Governance Interactions Project, which involves more than 30 researchers from nine countries, representing 23 institutions. He is undoubtedly the best mentor I could get here. Second, UBC has remarkable strengths in environmental studies, as Canada's top university in the area. My substance field is environmental studies, so I learn and contribute across academic units. For instance, I am a scholar of the Liu Institute for Global Issues and have the privilege of working with Dr George Hoberg, a leading environmental policy scholar at the institute, on my supervisory committee. Third, UBC gave me the most competitive funding, the International Doctoral Fellowship, when I was deciding where to go. When UBC later graciously nominated me for other reputable federal awards, including the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and the SSHRC doctoral awards, I concluded I was in the right place, even if I did not win! With these three considerations, UBC is undoubtedly the best place for me. There were other considerations such as the opportunity to live in Vancouver and the need to stay in Canada to satisfy permanent residence requirements, but they were not as compelling.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

My programme at the Allard Law School has strengths in the study of law and society, which is my broad theory field. Almost every faculty member is pushing the edge of this broad field. Also, my narrow theory field is regulation and governance, so I am in my programme to learn from the leaders in the field, particularly my supervisor, Dr Stepan Wood, and my supervisory committee member, Dr Cristie Ford.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The beauty of the campus! The campus is located around a major park and has beaches and other breathtaking scenery. We also have lovely indigenous artwork and history all around. Going to campus is so inspiring.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I am looking forward to my field work and the actual writing of my dissertation.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

My biggest career challenge will likely arise from taking on too much. I have so many interests and want to do too many things, but I find ways to caution myself.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

My programme has allowed me to multitask, so this helps to manage multiple responsibilities. I am grateful to my supervisor and committee members for giving me the conducive environment to combine my doctoral responsibilities with voluntary work. I co-founded and currently serve as Co-Chair of the Liu Institute Network for Africa at UBC, and I am a Senator on the UBC Vancouver Senate, the Project Director for “Community Sustainability Global,” and member of the “African Vibes” show on Vancouver Coop Radio. I also serve on some editorial boards and the boards of directors of some NGOs. I hope to build on this rich experience to manage diverse career responsibilities.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

My law and policy training, community project management, private legal practice, government policy work and academic involvement (especially research, supervision of student projects and refereeing) prepared me in various ways for my PhD.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I dance every day, play music at church, feature on radio shows, ride my bike, play table tennis, go to the beach and see movies and shows. I hope the list grows!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My top piece of advice is to stay healthy and have work-life balance. Fortunately, Vancouver is a great city to do so.


Read tips on applying, reference letters, statement of interest, reaching out to prospective supervisors, interviews and more in our Application Guide!