PeaceTech at Grebel: Nurturing a Home for Creators, Innovators, and Collaborators

At the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, we have been asking: How can technology be positively used to create a more peaceful and just world? PeaceTech has become a convenient shorthand for many of the initiatives and innovations that call our Centre home.

In our Epp Peace Incubator, new ventures such as Demine Robotics, EPOCH, SheLeads, and WorldVuze are creating technologies that contribute to realizing a more peaceful world. At the same time, core collaborating organizations such as Project Ploughshares are critically reflecting on the implications of technology on humanity. The Centre for Peace Advancement has created fertile ground for students at Grebel—and beyond—to engage with these participants.

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PeaceTech in Action

SheLeads, Demine Robotics, and Project Ploughshares are a small sample of the organizations and startups based at the Centre for Peace Advancement working in the PeaceTech field.

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Furthermore, since 2016, Director Paul Heidebrecht has taught a class called Engineering and Peace, motivated by the conviction that Peace and Conflict Studies has an important contribution to make to the practice of engineering, and that engineers have an important role to play in advancing peace. Last year, two Capstone Design Teams in the Faculty of Engineering focused their efforts on addressing technical challenges faced by incubator ventures.

Expanding this vision, Grebel is excited to launch a new PeaceTech Living-Learning Community in fall 2019. Open to Grebel students in any academic program and in any year of their undergraduate degree, this community will explore the intersection of peacebuilding and technology—critically reflecting on the social impact of technology, and fostering the creation of “tech for good.”

The Centre for Peace Advancement will provide mentorship and guidance to the student Peer Leaders who will organize events and activities for the program and build relationships with students in the group. This spring, Peer Leaders Neil Brubacher and Jonathan Smith are tasked with developing the program. When students arrive in the fall of 2019, Hannah Bernstein and Grace Wright will lead them, followed by Neil Brubacher and Hannah Brubacher Kaethler in the winter.

“When the right people are equipped with the right tools and knowledge, we have the capacity to build a culture of peace between individuals, in our communities, among nations and around the world,” noted Paul Heidebrecht, who is eager to launch this initiative. “We can’t wait to see all the ways students connect to the peace entrepreneurs, activists, and researchers who call our centre home, and help us elevate peace as a priority at the University of Waterloo and throughout our region’s vibrant innovation ecosystem!”