Peace Scholar Brings Depth, Curiosity, Originality

Dr. Eric Lepp (BA 2005) will join the Grebel community as Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) on July 1, 2023, becoming the College’s newest tenure-track faculty member. With expertise in conflict transformation, theories and practices of nonviolence and resistance, and peace and social justice movements, Eric brings experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm to this role at Grebel and the University of Waterloo.

Eric Lepp“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Eric Lepp as a faculty member in Peace and Conflict Studies at Grebel” said Reina Neufeldt, PACS Chair. “Dr. Lepp brings a passion for student-centered teaching, an exciting research portfolio and deep commitment to understanding and engaging with local and international grassroots peace initiatives.”

Eric holds a PhD from the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester. He completed an MA in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Waterloo. Eric serves as an Honorary Research Fellow at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester and was a Curriculum Fellow with the International Centre for Nonviolent Conflict in Washington, DC.

“Eric is a gifted educator in Peace and Conflict Studies, with a knack for bringing students with quite different perspectives into conversation with one another,” said President Marcus Shantz. “His classroom is a place of curiosity, good humour, and deep learning.” With 10 years of international and domestic teaching experience, Eric has taught both at an introductory level and graduate level, received teaching awards, and participated in curriculum development.

“As an instructor who sees classroom education as having real-world applicability, I try as much as possible to be responsive to student passions, with the aim of teaching them how solid analysis can augment their understanding of problems they care deeply about,” explained Eric. “I seek to empower students to challenge taken-for-granted assumptions to act boldly as agents for change by making meaningful contributions to society locally and globally.”

Eric is familiar with the PACS program as an alumnus of Grebel and a former staff member. This winter he co-curated an interactive exhibit in the Grebel Gallery titled “Your Wall Can (Not) Divide Us” that features photos of vibrant street art and graffiti from conflict-affected areas around the world as well as an interactive graffiti wall.

“Eric’s scholarship in graffiti and side-byside peacebuilding focuses on the relational dimensions of analysis and peacebuilding,” noted Troy Osborne, Grebel’s Dean. Eric exemplifies this research approach in his PhD thesis, “Side by Side in the Land of Giants: A study of space, contact and civility in Belfast.” “Having already received grants in support of his research, Eric demonstrates a research trajectory that reveals a scholar with depth, curiosity, and originality,” Osborne added. A number of fellowships and external grants have supported Eric’s work, including a recent grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has also published in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Third World Quarterly, Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, Journal of Intercultural Studies, and Qualitative Research.

“I am looking forward to working with the faculty, staff and students in the Peace and Conflict Studies program to intentionally chart our direction together through theories and practices that are emerging in response to our increasingly polarized world,” remarked Eric. “I am excited to bring my passion for the classroom and my growing research agenda to compliment the excellent work already being done in the PACS program.”