Paul Heidebrecht is the inaugural director of the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, and an adjunct assistant professor who teaches courses in Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College. His current research interests reflect a range of academic fields and professional experiences, including the intersection of peacebuilding and social innovation, technology and ethics, and political advocacy.
519-885-0220, ext. 24225
Office: CGUC 4203
BASc '94, University of Waterloo
MTh '00, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
PhD '08, Marquette University
You might not expect an engineer to be the director of the Centre for Peace Advancement, however Paul’s previous experiences make him a great fit for the role. Paul completed his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, and subsequently worked for over five years in several different engineering positions. Living at Conrad Grebel University College, Paul was first introduced to both peace and conflict and theological studies; he also spent a co-op work term working on appropriate technology projects for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Bangladesh.
Paul went on to pursue theological studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, and then worked for MCC once again, this time teaching peace theology in Nigeria. He later earned a PhD in theology and ethics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation broke new ground in reflecting theologically on technology, and he has published several articles and a book in this area.
Prior to coming to Grebel and the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, Paul served as the director of MCC’s Ottawa Office for five years. In this role he led advocacy efforts on a wide range of international and domestic policy issues, including peacebuilding, humanitarian assistance, food security, refugee resettlement, restorative justice, Indigenous reconciliation, and mining justice. Much of this work was done in collaboration with civil society networks and ecumenical coalitions.
Paul is thrilled to support the diverse participants who call the Centre for Peace Advancement home, including Grebel faculty and graduate students, as well as peacebuilding practitioners with affiliate organizations and start-ups in the Grebel Peace Incubator: “The Centre for Peace Advancement is well-positioned to harness and channel the passions, ideas, and skills of a new generation of peacebuilders, social innovators, and community partners to tackle the biggest and most pressing problems of our day.”
- PACS 302 – Peacebuilding and Social Innovation (offered in Winter 2019)
- PACS 315 – Engineering and Peace (offered in Fall 2019)
- PACS 620 – Thinking and Working Politically (Winter 2020)
- Conrad Grebel Faculty Advocate, University of Waterloo HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 (2019-2020)
- Academic Member, Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute (since 2019)
- Member, Waterloo Council for Responsible Innovation and Technology (since 2019)
- Member, Waterloo Innovation Ecosystem Council (since 2018)
Selected presentations and publications
- With Joji Pantoja: “Peace Through Entrepreneurship.” 2nd Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival, Elspeet, Netherlands, 29 June 2019.
- With Scott Campbell, Doreen Fraser, and Maura R. Grossman: “Helping the Medicine Go Down: Teaching Across C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures.” University of Waterloo Teaching and Learning Conference, Waterloo, Ontario, 2 May 2019.
- With Andrew Blum, Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, Karen Henken, and Amit Kakkad: “Strange Bedfellows? Social Justice and Social Innovation Together in Real Life.” Ashoka U Exchange, San Diego, California, 22 February 2019.
- “Why ‘Silicon Valley North’ must build peace” [Op Ed]. The Record (28 May 2018).
- “Christian Political Engagement in a New Key? Reading Ellul in Ottawa.” In Political Illusion and Reality: Engaging the Prophetic Insights of Jacques Ellul, edited by David W. Gill and David Lovekin. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2018.
- “Social Networks as a Litmus Test for Mennonites.” Paper presented at Mennonite Christian – Shi’a Muslim Dialogue VII (“Religion and Youth: Challenges and Solutions”), Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 10 March 2018.
- “Building a Community, Ecosystem, and Field.” Introduction to a workshop on “How to Build a Peace Venture” facilitated at the Venture Peacebuilding Symposium, American University, Washington, DC, 22 January 2018.
- “How Do We Teach—and What Can We Learn About—the Ethics of Technology In a STEM Driven World?” Paper presented at the Technology Ethics Interest Group at the Society of Christian Ethics 59th Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, 5 January 2018.