Professor Spotlight: Dr. Phil Leech-Ngo

Dr. Phil Leech-Ngo arrived and began lecturing at UNB Saint John in Fall 2017. Dr. Leech received his Ph.D. from the University of Exeter in 2012 and won a Post-Doctoral fellowship in Human Rights from the University of Ottawa in 2016. Dr. Leech is lecturing courses relating to the International Relations field and is offering a ‘special topic’ fourth-year course in the winter term which focuses on the Middle East- POLS 4611, which is his specialty, particularly on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

  “Academia always appealed to me,” Dr. Leech says, “primarily because I get to spend my time thinking about, researching and teaching topics that I think are the most interesting things in the world.”

Dr. Leech began lecturing while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Exeter. Since then, he has worked in Liverpool as well as Plymouth University. After working at UOttawa in the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, he came to join UNB’s staff.

“The best thing about teaching at UNB is that most of the students in my classes seem to have an excellent sense of humour and they’re pretty enthusiastic about studying,” Dr. Leech explains. “It’s incredibly rewarding to help someone learn, craft their thoughts and produce something they’re proud of.”

Dr. Leech is focused on having his students succeed and equipping them with the tools to allow them to do so, while also ensuring he keeps his students engaged. Anyone in his Political Science courses will quickly notice he enjoys sharing a few jokes throughout his lecture along with allowing his students to think independently and critically about the topic at hand or topics related to the class discussions.

“Analytical skills are the most important,” Dr. Leech notes. “In practice this is the ability to size up a problem, take it apart and think creatively about how to deal with it.”

Outside the classroom, Dr. Leech’s research focuses on International Relations in the Middle East, specifically on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“Now, more than ever, is the time to study and research international relations,” Dr. Leech says. “The dominant order we’ve lived under since 1945 is under unprecedented strain.” He cites the global economic crisis, climate change, and threats such as Russia, ISIS, and North Korea as reasons for this disruption.

“But this moment of disruption isn’t just defined by threats, it’s an opportunity for us – as global citizens – to think about what kind of world we want to live in,” he adds. “How can we reshape our societies, both nationally and internationally, for the future? In my courses I try and encourage students to think about these questions and more.”

Dr. Leech offers advice to upper year students who are deciding to study Politics and are considering graduate school or any sort of future goals: “Keep your eyes on the prize.”

“Have a goal in mind and work out a practical, reasonable plan in order to achieve it,” he says. “Be adaptable to change – should conditions change – but be determined enough to achieve the maximum reward available.”

“If you are passionate about a subject then don’t let circumstances deter you,” says Dr. Leech. “Most people have a far greater capacity to shape circumstances to their will than they realize.”