Sara Ghebremusse joined the Allard School of Law in July, 2017 as an Assistant Professor. She is currently a SSHRC-funded PhD candidate at the Osgoode Hall law School, where she is writing a dissertation on “Revisiting the ‘Resource Curse’: Law, the Developmental State, and the Governance of Mineral Resources in Southern Africa.” Following a BA in Political Science and Middle Eastern and African Studies at the University of Alberta (2006), Professor Ghebremusse completed an MA in International Affairs at Carleton University jointly with a JD (cum laude) from the University of Ottawa in 2012, and went on to complete an LLM at the University of Toronto in 2014. She will be teaching legal research and writing as well as coaching the UBC team for the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
Professor Ghebremusse was ten years old when she visited Eritrea for the first time after her parents immigrated to Alberta in the early 1980s. It was this life-changing visit and her family’s personal history that would later inspire her decision to pursue a career in law. “To say that visiting Eritrea as a 10-year-old impacted me is an understatement. I always thought that by studying law and by gaining a better understanding of how lives and society can change through law, I could contribute to bettering the lives of so many who are disadvantaged in Sub-Saharan Africa – including so many members of my own family.”
Professor Ghebremusse’s PhD thesis, which she is currently completing at York University’s Osgoode Hall, looks at the role that legal institutions play in economic development when it comes to the mining industry in Africa. Her goal is to provide a legal framework that promotes sustainable economic development in mining-dependent countries. This interest in natural resource governance was first sparked during her LLM, which she completed at the University of Toronto. In doing her research, Professor Ghebremusse studied the inequality between developing countries in Africa and mining companies based in Canada, the US and the UK. “I wanted to see what the impact of the involvement in the global south was, and to see how Western involvement can be structured most effectively, to help improve socioeconomic conditions in certain countries.”
Professor Ghebremusse is proud of what her family has achieved after moving to Canada. “The immigrant experience in Canada isn’t a cakewalk. It was the 1980s in Alberta and my parents first time seeing snow. And there was the oil crash that happened, so finding jobs was really hard. On top of that, having to deal with the racism that is inevitable when you have limited English and limited Canadian experience, limited Canadian education, and you’re trying to find jobs so you can support your family. Some of the things my parents had to do were things I would never conceive of ever having to be done.”
After picking up jobs here and there, both parents returned to school. Professor Ghebremusse’s mom became a certified nurse while her dad went on to pursue both a bachelors and a masters degree in social work, all while raising two young kids. For Professor Ghebremusse, it was clear at a very young age the transformative role that education can play in someone’s life.
Influenced by her family history and driven by her strong desire to see change, Professor Ghebremusse is excited to embark on this next chapter of her career.
Originally published in August 2018 in Alumni News.