Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. John Ifediora
Dr. John O. Ifediora, professor of economics, has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville since 1988. Ifediora is an economist and attorney at law with specialties on public policy analysis, development economics and international human rights law. In recent years, he advised the Wisconsin Department of Revenue on its Tax Incidence Study, served as a special consultant to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Illinois in its economic impact study, and advised the Illinois State Senate on the economic impact of the state lottery on the economy of Chicago.
He has authored and co-authored books and articles in economics and public policy, and remains very active in development programs in Africa. As a career academic, he served as the chair of the economics program in the Department of Social Sciences at UW-Platteville, where he established and directed the Center for Applied Public Policy. As an expert in international law, he has served as the lead attorney in numerous notable cases, and advised numerous international agencies on human rights law.
He received a B.A. from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota; M.A. from the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois; M.St. from the University of Oxford in Oxford, England; M.S. from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England; Juris Doctor from UW-Madison; Ph.D. from UW-Madison; Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago; and did his post-graduate studies at the London School of Economics in London, England.
Ifediora teaches microeconomics at UW-Platteville.
What do you most enjoy about teaching and what inspired you to pursue teaching economics?
It is an excellent opportunity to transmit to students current concepts and findings in the field of economics, and how relevant they are to their daily activities. I took to economics the first time I was exposed to it in high school when I read a book entitled, “The Worldly Philosophers,” by Robert Heilbroner. There and then I knew I had found what would occupy me for a very long time; and it has, for practically everything we do touches on the basic principles that define economics as a discipline.
How do you inspire a desire for knowledge in your students?
I inspire a desire for knowledge in my students mainly through my lectures and books, which are in turn informed by the variety of academic specialties that have shaped my professional activities. It is hard to imagine how one can seriously teach a subject without being actively involved in research, professional conferences and lifelong learning. One inspires a desire for knowledge amongst students only if one continues to acquire useful and relevant knowledge within a discipline.
In addition to teaching, you are the editor-in-chief of the Council on African Security and Development. What are your responsibilities and what is most rewarding about this position?
The Council on African Security and Development is a collectivity of academics and practitioners in the various areas of economic development and security, especially as they apply to developing countries of Africa. As a think tank, we are able to afford policy makers in these countries expert advice that would ordinarily lie outside their areas of competence.
In May, you presented at the Nigeria Summit on National Security 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria. What are your thoughts on how to most effectively address the destabilizing and deadly effects of global terrorism and insurgency?
The summit on national security succeeded beyond our expectations. With world leaders from Europe, Africa, the United States and Asia, the summit focused on the root causes of insurgency, and how to address them before affected groups take up arms to seek redress of their grievances. Given the multi-dimensional aspects of insurgency and militancy, the overall conclusion was that if all efforts at the root-level fails, then dialogue must be the first option; muscular intervention must always be the last resort … we simply cannot kill our way to peace.
In October, you gave a presentation at the African Development and Investment Convention in Zurich, Switzerland. What do you hope was accomplished at this convention, personally and professionally?
This convention was on how to stimulate investment in the African continent, but more importantly, on what respective countries must do in order to attract foreign direct investment. The lesson learned is that foreign direct investment does not drive development, but it is rather the other way around. Policy makers left with fresh and innovative ideas on how to energize the four drivers of development – power supply, road infrastructure, telecommunication and the financial institutions.
Interview conducted by Laurie Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.