| April 3, 2019

Rémi Léger, Associate Professor, Political Science, Simon Fraser University

Rémi Léger, Associate Professor, Political Science, Simon Fraser University

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Rémi Léger graduated with a PhD in political science from Queen’s University, focusing on language politics in the Canadian context. He is currently an associate professor at Simon Fraser University.  


Q: Why did you enroll in a PhD program in the first place?

It was kind of a natural pathway. I remember being interested in reading research and writing a research paper in my undergraduate. I thought, “This is kind of cool, you can learn these new things and you can actually make original research yourself.”

In my Masters, I already felt like I was engaging with research, and I was trying to bring in my own original perspective. I remember feeling that quite early on in late undergrad and definitely starting into the MA program.

Q: Was academia always your goal?

When I started the PhD, my intention was to get a PhD to get into academia. That was definitely my first choice. My research led me to work closely with some NGOs, and I was very close to them. I knew that if academia didn’t work out for me, I could work for an NGO and be a research assistant at one of these NGOs and kind of continue my work, but in another way.

Over the course of the PhD, I actually got more interested in what the NGOs were doing and new political claims that they were making, and how they were framing their claims in order to get more services, or more funding, or more programs from the government. And I got a bit less interested in the academic debate.

Q: How did you end up in your current position?

My career path was very fast, and I was very lucky. At the start of my fifth year, I had a lot to write still, but I received a postdoc at the University of Ottawa, which started in January. Then, as I wrote the conclusion and made final changes to my dissertation, a job was posted at SFU, with a deadline a few months away. So during the six weeks before my defense, I applied for the SFU job, and then I was shortlisted and offered the job; I never started the postdoc. It all happened very quickly, and my experience isn’t typical; as I’ve said, I’m very lucky that it happened so fast.

Now, my work is a bit more engaged in trying to understand the NGOs and I share a lot of my research with them. My work evolved almost naturally, because I was working so closely with the NGOs. There are people out there in my department and across the discipline that think that what we should be doing as academics is publish true empirical quantitative research in the American Journal of Political Science. But, some of us don’t do that—some of us make a contribution differently.

In addition to research, I also do a lot of public work. Ninety-five percent of my work is in French—I do a lot of media interviews and op-eds in Francophone newspapers across the country, and a lot of public speaking with NGOs. I think that the next step for my research is to speak more directly to the policymakers.

I’m teaching this new generation of people that are going to work in NGOs or work for government and become researchers themselves, but who also see that they can do research that contributes to their community, and to their language community.


Many thanks to Rémi for sharing his PhD narrative! You can find more about his work at his SFU profile page.

Rémi Léger graduated with a PhD in political science from Queen’s University, focusing on language politics in the Canadian context. He is currently an associate professor at Simon Fraser University.  


Q: Why did you enroll in a PhD program in the first place?

It was kind of a natural pathway. I remember being interested in reading research and writing a research paper in my undergraduate. I thought, “This is kind of cool, you can learn these new things and you can actually make original research yourself.”

In my Masters, I already felt like I was engaging with research, and I was trying to bring in my own original perspective. I remember feeling that quite early on in late undergrad and definitely starting into the MA program.

Q: Was academia always your goal?

When I started the PhD, my intention was to get a PhD to get into academia. That was definitely my first choice. My research led me to work closely with some NGOs, and I was very close to them. I knew that if academia didn’t work out for me, I could work for an NGO and be a research assistant at one of these NGOs and kind of continue my work, but in another way.

Over the course of the PhD, I actually got more interested in what the NGOs were doing and new political claims that they were making, and how they were framing their claims in order to get more services, or more funding, or more programs from the government. And I got a bit less interested in the academic debate.

Q: How did you end up in your current position?

My career path was very fast, and I was very lucky. At the start of my fifth year, I had a lot to write still, but I received a postdoc at the University of Ottawa, which started in January. Then, as I wrote the conclusion and made final changes to my dissertation, a job was posted at SFU, with a deadline a few months away. So during the six weeks before my defense, I applied for the SFU job, and then I was shortlisted and offered the job; I never started the postdoc. It all happened very quickly, and my experience isn’t typical; as I’ve said, I’m very lucky that it happened so fast.

Now, my work is a bit more engaged in trying to understand the NGOs and I share a lot of my research with them. My work evolved almost naturally, because I was working so closely with the NGOs. There are people out there in my department and across the discipline that think that what we should be doing as academics is publish true empirical quantitative research in the American Journal of Political Science. But, some of us don’t do that—some of us make a contribution differently.

In addition to research, I also do a lot of public work. Ninety-five percent of my work is in French—I do a lot of media interviews and op-eds in Francophone newspapers across the country, and a lot of public speaking with NGOs. I think that the next step for my research is to speak more directly to the policymakers.

I’m teaching this new generation of people that are going to work in NGOs or work for government and become researchers themselves, but who also see that they can do research that contributes to their community, and to their language community.


Many thanks to Rémi for sharing his PhD narrative! You can find more about his work at his SFU profile page.

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