Sven Spengemann

Sven Spengemann
Place of Birth: 
Berlin, Germany
Graduation Years: 
Department / Division: 
Honours BSc

Part of a university education is figuring out how to learn and how to get organized in a less-structured environment than high school.

As MPs, we’re running franchises of ideas. We get the basic hardware, but we need a team and a political platform to connect with our communities, do the lawmaking and engage in the mechanisms of politics. I can’t imagine anything more interesting.

Sven Spengemann

Sven Spengemann, the Liberal Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Lakeshore, immigrated to Canada with his parents as a teenager. The family settled in Mississauga, and Spengemann chose to further his education at nearby U of T Mississauga.

“I wanted a leading institution and U of T was that choice,” he says. “I also liked the geographic proximity – I walked to campus my first year – and my familiarity with the campus.”

Unsure of his career path, he chose to major in psychology, with minors in French and philosophy. He loved meeting students from all walks of life and “the academic setting with its breadth of viewpoints. It widened my horizons.”

Spengemann enjoyed his undergraduate classes and recalls some “great, passionate professors. The faculty really make the programs, and there were some exceptional people.”

He was a member of the psychology association, played a bit of football for the UTM Warriors and was the bass guitarist for a small UTM jazz band. In his last two years, he discovered the fascination of student governance and won election to the UTM Students’ Union (UTMSU) and the tri-campus Students’ Administrative Council.

“This gave me the ability to figure out what public service was all about,” Spengemann says. “It was great fun and we were doing interesting work, so it planted the seeds for later.”

Upon graduation, Spengemann followed his father into the banking/finance business for several years before law school called and he developed an interest in international law. After graduation, he earned a doctorate (S.J.D.) from Harvard University in political and constitutional theory. Spengemann worked for the federal government’s Privy Council Office before taking a position with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, where he helped the Government of Iraq with political, constitutional and legal reform.

“Parliament is a natural extension of my previous work,” he says, “but it adds the adrenalin of campaigning to get elected to office, plus the emotional intelligence needed to be politically successful. It’s the glue that cements all my past experience, and there’s nothing like it.”

Despite the demands of an MP’s work, Spengemann remains a strong champion of UTM, having previously served as a member of the alumni association’s board of directors.


Selected Awards:

  • UN Sabbatical Leave, United Nations Office of Human Resource Management (OHRM), September 2011, Provides UN officials with more than 5 years of service with an opportunity to conduct relevant research at leading universities

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHC) Doctoral Fellowship, 2001-2004, Promotes and supports post-secondary-based research and research training in the humanities and social sciences

  • Fulbright Scholarship, Canada-US Fulbright Program, August 2000, Provides the opportunity for outstanding Canadian students to study and/or conduct research in the United States


Selected Publications:

  • "Freedom's Hidden Price: Framing the Obstacles to Economic Coexistence" (Chapter), Imagine Coexistence (Jossey Bass), 2002, An outline of policy arguments relating to economic incentives for the perpetuation of violence.

  • “Networks and an Arab Summer,” 7 Global Brief 44-48 (Spring/Summer 2011), June 2011, Outline of a proposal to connect civil society organizers in the transforming Middle East and North Africa with established CSOs in Europe, North America, and elsewhere across the world, using the virtual global commons.

  • “The Liberal Project, East and West,” 8:1 Journal of International Law and International Relations, November 2012, A review of Roger Congleton's Perfecting Parliament and Stephen King's The New Authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa. Commentary on the political evolution of liberal approaches in Western Europe and the Middle East.