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Peace and Conflict Studies grads build a stronger society

Friday, May 12, 2017

“What kind of job will my child get after graduation?” This is a question parents of prospective university students often ask - including those considering Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) at Conrad Grebel University College. What we say with confidence is that an undergraduate or graduate PACS degree equips students with highly sought after skills in today’s job market. This kind of education leaves the door open to a multitude of fields, some of which are yet to be created; fields that will require adaptable minds, critical thinking, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to thrive in challenging environments. 

Story written by Kelly Brown, Peace and Conflict Studies Administrative Officer and Graduate Studies Coordinator at Grebel.

PACS is unique, as it taps into students’ individual vocations and nurtures their social entrepreneurial spirit that will lead them to find their calling. Though we may not recognize it, peace is foundational to all disciplines and careers. Renowned academic and anthropologist William Ury outlines ten roles that individuals fill in society to create a stronger, healthier, peaceful climate: the Provider, Teacher, Bridge-builder, Mediator, Arbiter, Equalizer, Healer, Witness, Referee, and Peacekeeper. Looking back at our recent graduates, PACS and MPACS alumni have not only filled these roles but have flourished and made unique contributions within them. 

The provider sees an injustice and seeks to fill this void in society, like Elle Crevits (PACS ‘15). Inspired by a final project in a PACS class, Elle developed Food Not Waste, an initiative aimed at reducing food waste from small businesses by re-distributing to emergency food services. 

Teachers teach skills to others. This role goes beyond the traditional notions of an instructor in front of a class. Jahan Zeb (MPACS ‘14) co-founded The Global Peace Centre Canada, in 

partnership with Ziauddin Yousafzai (Malala’s father), an organization centred on the creation of peace curriculum for conflict areas.

Bridge-builders seek to close the gap between cultural groups, religions, and even across socioeconomic groups. Jason Manseau (PACS ‘11) works as the Manager of Services at OneRoof Youth Services, where he assists tenants at risk of losing their homes by providing them with support for mental illness, substance abuse, and physical health.

student and community members at a school in South Korea During his MPACS internship, Darren Kropf worked at Border Peace School in Cheorwon, South Korea. He taught peace education and advised on program development of a new peace school seeking reconciliation and reunification of the Koreas.

Mediators like Darren Kropf, (MPACS ’15) engage all stakeholders to discuss and make decisions on possible points of contention. Darren works as a Neighbourhood Strategic Engagement Associate for the City of Kitchener and facilitates dialogue within communities to help develop plans for neighbourhood engagement.

Upholding just laws and roles for a fair society is the mission of an Arbiter. Eric Boynton (PACS ‘12) fills this role as a Police Officer in Waterloo Region.

The equalizer seeks to balance the power playing field, so all members of society have equal opportunity. Kaylee Perez (MPACS ‘15) works with Mennonite Central Committee as a Refugee Sponsorship Associate, assisting newcomers as they navigate the Canadian immigration system and resettlement.

students speaking into mic at meetingIn Fall 2016, Huda Al-Obaidi, Mandy Witmer, Kaylee Perez, Amanda Botelho took part in a panel discussion about refugees sponsorship in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Healers like Jessica Reesor Rempel (PACS ‘11) listen, acknowledge, and provide guidance to those struggling. As a founder of Pastors in Exile, she connects with and provides guidance to youth and young adults who feel marginalized within the church.

As a witness, Arielle Campion- Ross (PACS ‘11) believes in telling the truth and standing alongside those in harms way. She fills this role as the Ontario Field Representative and Member Engagement Specialist at an independent Canadian labour union.

The referee sets policies and holds others accountable in order to protect vulnerable persons within society.  Janelle Saldanha, (MPACS ’15), does this through her job as an Integrity Services Investigator for Service Canada, conducting investigations around abuses within the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program. 

Finally, the peacekeeper works with persons facing a direct threat against their well-being and seeks to protect them.  Nadine Hiemstra (PACS ‘12) and Cass Bangay (PACS ‘12) worked in Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams, using their presence to stand alongside vulnerable communities and act as nonviolent peacekeepers to decrease the threat of violence.

Our PACS and MPACS alumni continue to exceed our expectations within the job market and in their scope of impact. When parents ask what their child’s job will be after completing a PACS or MPACS degree, we no longer put parameters around it. We simply look to our alumni as shining examples of the flexibility and impact of a PACS or MPACS degree, and leave students with the power to dream big.

A leader in its field, Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College was the first peace-centred program in Canada. The program is housed at Grebel, a liberal arts college founded by Mennonites, and affiliated with the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. The University of Waterloo holds the title of Canada’s most innovative university, twenty-five years standing.

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