Spring 2023 Faculty of Education Associate Dean’s Graduate Student Thesis Award

Dr. Uwakwe Kalu

Congratulations to Dr. Uwakwe Kalu, one of two recipients of the spring 2023 Faculty of Education Associate Dean’s Graduate Student Thesis Award.

The Faculty of Education Associate Dean’s Graduate Student Thesis Award was established in 2021 to recognize outstanding academic performance of thesis-based graduate students (Masters and PhD) in Education. This $2,000 award is granted to a student in a graduate program in the Faculty of Education who has exemplified academic excellence and research ability, demonstrated leadership ability and/or university/community involvement, and whose thesis/dissertation was deemed meritorious by the Examining Committee.

Kalu successfully defended his dissertation titled, “Intergenerational Knowledge Transfer in Traditional Herbal Medicine (THM) Practices among the Igbo Tribe in Nigeria: A Qualitative Study” on July 11, 2022. His Co-supervisors were Dr. Abu Bockarie and Dr. Douglas Brown. Committee members were Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose, Dr. Anna-Leah King, and Dr. Florence Luhanga. The External Examiner was Dr. Ranja Datta.

In his doctoral research, Kalu explored the “assertion that traditional herbal medicine (THM) has been a reliable source of health to Africa before colonization, which raises pertinent questions about how the THM knowledge was acquired, sustained, and transferred before colonial incursion.”

“One cannot talk about intergenerational transfer of knowledge without recourse to the role of learning/education in knowledge acquisition, preservation, and transfer, which makes education and intergenerational learning co-constitutive in the study. The study concerned itself with the role of learning in the intergenerational transfer of THM practices among the Igbo tribe in a postcolonial Nigerian society,” explains Kalu.

Fieldwork for the study was conducted during the period when the world was on lockdown due to the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic led to a global call for robust health care services to tackle the menace. Kalu says, “Therefore, there is the need to preserve, promote, and transfer the knowledge and practices of traditional herbal medicines (WHO, 2009), and my hope was that the study would contribute to the implementation of the WHO decision on promoting THM practices among Indigenous communities, Igbo society in particular.”

Kalu had several reasons for choosing his research topic: “Firstly, I embarked on this journey as part of my ‘little’ contributions toward decolonizing Indigenous practices. Secondly, I conceived the idea of the research topic during the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic while helplessly watching people die daily in thousands, globally. Thirdly, it is a product of psychological and emotional bewilderment exacerbated by the defencelessness of reliance on Western medicine alone for global health care needs. Finally, it is part of my contributions towards facilitating robust global healthcare services by revamping traditional medicine practices.”

Kalu currently works for Creative Options Regina. Because Kalu found the Faculty welcoming, he says, “I have already been recommending people to take their program with the Faculty of Education.”



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