Celebrating Ten Years of MPACS: Pursuing Transformative Peace and Justice

The world is filled with unique and diverse communities and cultures, friendship and family, love, and the resilient human spirit. However, the world is facing turbulent times with polarization, systemic violence, armed conflicts, and oppression on the uprise. “The Master of Peace and Conflict Studies community strives to transform conflicts, repair harms, and build flourishing communities,” said Reina Neufeldt, Chair and Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Grebel.

The tenth anniversary of the MPACS program at Grebel and the University of Waterloo was celebrated on March 4, 2023. The celebration event brought together upwards of 80 guests, including 42 alumni and most of the faculty and staff involved in the program’s establishment, growth, and mission during the last decade. Since its establishment, there have been 147 MPACS graduates and a passionate team of faculty, staff, instructors, and administrators working to advance peace locally, nationally, and globally.

The anniversary served as a reflection on the past decade. It was an appreciation of how inspiring change can ripple into hope and healing in the world, and it was a look ahead at a community that is pursuing transformative peace and justice together. The program comprised a guided networking activity, a lively reception, and alumni reflections on how MPACS and Grebel impacted their lives.

Hari KC, a 2015 graduate, explained how the MPACS program “planted seeds of interest” in his life, guiding his subsequent PhD in global governance and post-doctoral teaching at Wilfrid Laurier University. “My education and the values I learned from the MPACS program continue to guide my thoughts and actions,” said Hari. He then quoted the Hindu Mantra of Upanishad: “From ignorance, lead me to truth. From darkness, lead me to light. From death, lead me to immortality. Peace, peace, peace.”

“MPACS is more than an opportunity, it is a passport to more opportunities,” remarked Emily Singh, a 2019 graduate who is now the Arbitration and Professional Standards Coordinator for the Toronto Real Estate Board. “As a student, I thought that these concepts only applied to big world conflicts,” shared Emily. “Now, I apply these profound ideas on a micro-scale to the disputes that I help resolve as an arbitrator.”

Amanda Bellefeuille, a 2017 graduate, credits the MPACS program for building leaders who “turn tough ground into the soft soil that is needed for peace to grow.” Amanda is now the Knowledge in Action Manager for the Student Commission of Canada. “I remind myself every day that peace can happen, and I am a part of it.”

Issa EbomboloGrebel’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Service Award was awarded to Issa Ebombolo (MPACS 2017) for his significant contribution to the church community, nation, and world through his leadership, dedication, and commitment to promoting peace and justice. “This world-class college gave me the best and progressive knowledge in the field of peace and conflict studies,” said Issa. In his video, he thanked faculty, staff, and current students in MPACS who continually inspire him to create an impact in people’s lives and the world. Although Issa was not able to travel to Canada to receive his award in person, his daughter Faraja Sadi, a PACS student at Grebel, accepted the award on his behalf.

“Looking to the future, I see MPACS bringing learning from our graduates into our classrooms as well as finding ways to support their work outside of the classroom,” said Reina. “We are committed to providing a rich learning community for students, and finally to being leaders in the field of peace and conflict studies over the next decade.”