NPSIA Graduation Spotlight: Félix Leblanc

If you could choose one word to sum up your time at NPSIA, what is it and why?

I would go with the word “challenge” for a few reasons. First, throughout my time at NPSIA, I’ve had my assumptions and beliefs challenged on countless occasions as professors and fellow students from all kinds of backgrounds brought new perspectives and information to the table. In return, I had many opportunities to challenge those ideas and to push the boundaries of established paradigms. Moreover, the flexible nature of the program and the numerous parallel activities meant I could always challenge myself to go a little further, to dig a little deeper. Finally, coming to Ottawa to study in my second language was a challenge in itself which has proved profoundly rewarding.

What is your favourite NPSIA memory?

Just before the pandemic, I had the chance to participate in Carleton’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law’s Trade Negotiations Course in Costa Rica. We spent a week simulating negotiations to modernize the Canada-Costa-Rica FTA. I have fond memories of productively arguing, creatively solving, and, of course, thoroughly enjoying the Pura Vida.

What was your favourite course or who was your favourite professor?

Tough choice! I especially liked Professor Wilner’s Capstone in Canadian Security class, which presented us with a fantastic opportunity to collaborate on a single project supported by government or private sector “clients” over a full semester. I appreciated being able to bring my economic policy perspective to a more traditional security area, present our findings to the clients, and receive their feedback.

Honourable mention to Professor Thom’s statistics class, a neat introduction to the quantitative analysis of international affairs.

What was the most important lesson you learned during your time at NPSIA?

The importance of engaging – engaging with ideas, with people, and with events. As an academic, the worlds of politics and applied policymaking can sometimes appear out of reach. Here in Ottawa, and through NPSIA, that distance narrows considerably. We must take advantage of the ample opportunities for interaction with civil society, business, and government to discuss ideas and policy options. NPSIA taught me to look for and seize these opportunities for meaningful contribution.

What’s next for you?

Following graduation, I am taking a break to explore my other academic interests, including devoting myself to my lifelong dream of learning Mandarin full-time.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the NPSIA community?

To those I met along the way, a final “thank you” for the support, the conversations, and the laughs. To those I haven’t met yet, I look forward to seeing you around Ottawa.