Faculty Profile: Professor Phil Rourke

by Jean Yen

Phil Rourke is the Executive Director of the Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL) and lecturer at NPSIA. Here’s a short interview outlining his observations as a professor at Carleton.

AK: What is your academic background?

PR: I have an Hons BA from the University of Windsor (International Relations), a NPSIA degree, and an MBA from Queen’s University.  Windsor taught me to think.  NPSIA taught me to think internationally.  Business school taught me to ask the right questions.

Professor Phil Rourke

Professor Phil Rourke

AK: Why did you choose to teach at Carleton?

PR: NPSIA students are interested in the same things that I am, but look at them differently.  Why wouldn’t you want to be around people like that?

AK: What is one of your most rewarding experiences as a professional?

PR: For me, “success” is doing what you want, how you want, and with the people you want.  Every rewarding experience that I’ve had in my professional life fit that definition.

AK: What is one of your most rewarding experiences as a prof?

PR: Teaching is about empowering students to achieve their full potential and to empower others in the process.  When I see that happening, I can sit back and smile.  My work’s done.

AK: What course is your favourite to teach, and why?

PR: I’m a sessional and only teach trade policy.  So far, it’s my favourite class to teach!

AK: If you could be a fruit, which fruit would you be and why?

PR: A tomato.  Everybody thinks a tomato is a vegetable, but it’s actually a fruit.  Still, it lives on.  As the jazz great Duke Ellington once said, if you want to be an innovator you have to refuse to be categorized.

AK: If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?

PR: Crispy Crunch.  I love peanut butter.  Especially with chocolate.  I’ll eat anything with peanut butter in it.  Crispy Crunch is the best peanut butter-chocolate combination available.  And it’s sold only in Canada.  Which is cool.

AK: What do students need to succeed at NPSIA, or in your class?

PR: Don’t be afraid to fail.  Because you’re not going to.  You’re smart and you’ve already proven you have what it takes. So take that problem. Figure it out. Get mad if you have to.  Run through it.  If that doesn’t work, pick yourself up. Repeat.

AK: What do you wish you saw more of at school?

PR: More NPSIA students collaborating with non-NPSIA students

AK: Based on your field of research and expertise, what is one prediction you’ll be making about the world in 2015?

PR: Trade will be a federal election issue. Which it usually isn’t.

AK: Do you have a mentor, or a favourite author?

PR: I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors along the way. The one that truly stands out is my former boss, Bill Dymond.  He passed away a few years ago.  At CTPL, we used to list his most memorable quotes and called them “Bill’s Bits and Bites!”   My favourite: “never argue with an idiot; in the end you won’t know who’s who.

AK: What is the biggest challenge in your field?

PR: Convincing people in the developed world what people in the developing world already know: “real” free trade is good for everyone.


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