People Directory

Yoshitaka Iwasaki



About Me

Dr. Yoshi Iwasaki is Professor and Associate Dean, Research in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension with over 18 and a half years of experience in community-based research, capacity-building, and knowledge mobilization. His areas of specialization include: (a) culture, diversity, and community-university engagement; (b) active living and quality of life (e.g., meaning-making, mental health, and leisure); and (c) participatory action research (PAR) to address social justice issues (e.g., human rights, social exclusion/inclusion, discrimination, marginalization/stigmatization, and empowerment). His Ph.D. in Recreation and Leisure Studies was completed at the University of Waterloo, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences in 1998. His previous employment includes being Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Health Professions and Social Work at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 2006 to 2011, and in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation Studies at the University of Manitoba from 1998 to 2006.


With over 18 and a half years of experience at post-secondary education settings in Canada and the United States, Dr. Iwasaki's work involves respectfully engaging and mobilizing population groups who are often marginalized to address significant societal challenges, such as cross-cultural issues, social exclusion/inclusion, and mental health issues. Using a holistic, meaning-oriented, and strengths-based approach, his transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral team’s work (including participatory action research, PAR) aims to build thriving communities and provide an effective support system through co-creating and co-implementing people-centered solutions in diverse communities. The integration of “engagement scholarship” into such work has been a recent focus. Dr. Iwasaki’s research team has worked with and engaged Indigenous peoples, culturally diverse “high-risk/at-risk” youth, and persons with disabilities such as mental illness to address social justice issues in a global context. Since 2011 his interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral team has been using a youth-guided PAR approach to respectfully engaging and supporting high-risk youth, by strategically mobilizing youth leadership to inspire and mobilize youth (e.g., Aboriginal, immigrant, and street-involved youth) as agents for positive changes at personal, social, and system levels. Another area of his team’s recent exploration includes the role of leisure engagement in meaning-making. With over $5 million external research support including federal grants from NIH, SSHRC, and CIHR, his work has appeared in over 85 refereed academic and professional journal articles.


I currently accept to work with students in Master of Arts in Community Engagement (MACE) and in leisure studies and/or meaning-making, engagement, and mental health issues at honor’s undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, and post-doctoral levels. I have acted as the advisor or a thesis committee member of over 40 doctoral, master’s, or honor’s undergraduate students, including my primary supervision of 18 students at Canadian and American universities. Please feel free to email me if you are interested or have questions.

Guided by our ongoing PAR on youth engagement, our team has facilitated workshops and university courses (e.g., community-service learning course) by incorporating youth-centered, community-based approaches. Please feel free to contact me or another member of our team if you are interested in learning more about our “youth engagement” workshops and courses designed for professionals, college students, and others. In particular, such a course provides the students with both breadth and depth of knowledge about issues and approaches to respectfully engaging and working with "high-risk/at-risk" youth in order to build a community of learning and support from both conceptual and practical perspectives.