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Dr Samantha Leonard staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 86377

Dr Samantha Leonard PhD

Senior Lecturer

School of People, Environment and Planning

Growing up in South Africa I saw first-hand that change is always possible. While studying my BSc and Masters in Geography, my eyes were opened to injustice towards local communities and the natural environment, and I knew that this was where I wanted to work for change. As a University Lecturer, I believe my role is to inspire students to think differently, to question what they have always accepted, and hopefully, to decide to live in such a way that they might make a difference to the world around them. My lecturing experience includes Development Theory, Urban and Rural Development, Local Economic Development, Social and Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Human Settlements.

In addition, my research interests include alternative economics, people-centred development and locally sustainable livelihoods.


In 2012 I completed my PhD in Education for Sustainable Development, following which I joined the Department of Development Studies, Nelson Mandela University, as a lecturer, researcher, supervisor and the Academic Coordinator for the BA Honours Programme in Development Studies. I joined Massey University in July 2019 where I lecture in Development Studies and co-ordinate the Masters in Sustainable Development Goals. I am extremely excited about this new Masters Programme, as I believe these goals are both essential and achievable and I feel privileged to be part of the process of equipping a new generation of leaders to bring about positive change for local communities and their natural environments.


I received my Masters in Geography from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa in socio-economic development. In 2012, I completed my PhD in Education for Sustainable Development, following which I  joined the Department of Development Studies, Nelson Mandela University, as a lecturer, researcher, supervisor and the academic coordinator for the Honours in Development Studies programme In 2019, I came to New Zealand where I joined the Development Studies team at Massey University as the programme coordinator of the Masters of Sustainable Development Goals. My research interests include people-entered development, sustainable livelihoods, and education for sustainable development. 

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Contact details

  • Ph: 0800 627 739 ext. 86377
    Location: 3.22, Social Sciences Tower
    Campus: Manawatu


  • Doctor of Philosophy - Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (2012)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development Goals

Educations for Sustainable Development

Social Enterprise 

Alternative Economics


Resource Development and Management

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Education (130000): Education not elsewhere classified (139999):
Human Geography (160400): Human Geography not elsewhere classified (160499):
Other Education (139900):
Studies In Human Society (160000)


Sustainable Development

Education for Sustainable Development

Sustainable Livelihoods

Community Development

Development Theory and Practice

Local Economid Development

Consultancy and Languages


  • April 2018 - December 2018 - Mercedes Benz Global Academy
    Training Material Development
  • October 2016 - December 2018 - Development Partners
    Development Research Associate
  • October 2015 - December 2016 - General Motors Fund, South Africa
    Sustainable Settlements Research

Teaching and Supervision

Courses Coordinated

  • 131.709 Sustainable Development Goals in Practice
  • 131.810 Sustainable Development Goals Practicum

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Co-supervisor 1 0

Current Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • Lan Phuong Nguyen - Doctor of Philosophy
    Engaging with the private sector for development: A critical analysis of attempts to partner with business for women’s economic empowerment in Vietnam.

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