This annual fellowship invites visiting scholars to engage in research, teaching, and relationship building with faculty and students at Conrad Grebel and the University of Waterloo, as well as the local community, around Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies themes. Proposals that relate directly to the unique aspects of Mennonite Studies at Conrad Grebel, such as faculty expertise and library or archives resources, are encouraged. The fellowship is administered by the Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies (IAMS).

Eligibility and expectations

  • One fellowship is awarded annually.
  • Eligible recipients include early career or established scholars or scholars with no formal university affiliation, artists, doctoral or post-doctoral students, teachers and community researchers
  • Eligible activities include:
    • Research
    • A residency in the arts
  • Length of residency is a minimum of 2 months and a maximum of 12 months. The minimum residency should occur between September 2019 and June 2020.
  • The recipient will be expected to engage with the College’s academic program (through activities such as guest lecturing, consulting with IAMS or the Mennonite Archives of Ontario on areas of common interest, etc.)
  • The recipient will give a public presentation related to their work during their residency
  • The recipient will normally be allotted work space and other privileges as appropriate
  • The recipient will be expected to acknowledge the assistance of the fellowship in any resulting research products
  • For qualified instructors and as opportunities arise, the amount of the Fellowship may be supplemented through teaching courses offered by the College

Available funding

  • The next funding amount will be announced at the time applications open for 2020/2021. Funding will normally be distributed in the form of a stipend.

Application process

Send the following materials to Laureen Harder-Gissing, Director of the Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies, by the application deadline. The next scheduled award is for the 2020/2021 academic year.

  • A brief (2-3 page) summary of your project highlighting how it relates directly to themes in Anabaptist and Mennonites Studies, as well as the unique aspects of Mennonite Studies at Conrad Grebel (such as faculty expertise, library or archives resources)
  • A Curriculum vitae
  • One letter of recommendation

For more information, please contact Laureen Harder-Gissing.

About the J. Winfield Fretz Fellowship in Mennonite Studies

J. Winfield Fretz

J. Winfield Fretz receiving a donation of a family Bible to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, 1968The Fretz Endowment, from which this fellowship is drawn, was established to recognize Grebel’s first president, J. Winfield Fretz, whose scholarship on the sociology of Mennonites had a significant impact around the world. Donations to the endowment are welcome: contact Fred W. Martin, Director of Advancement or 519-885-0220 x24381.

J. Winfield Fretz receives a donation of a family Bible from Winifred and Lillian Snider to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, 1968

J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholars in Mennonite Studies

Dr. David Y. Neufeld

The Institute for Anabaptist Mennonite Studies (IAMS) at Grebel has named David Neufeld the 2019-20 J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholar in Mennonite Studies. He will research Anabaptist archival cultures and practices, as well as investigating a new archival turn in early modern European historiography that recasts archives as the products of historical processes, not neutral bodies. He proposes to apply this archival turn to Anabaptist archival sources, which has the potential to reopen questions long thought settled in Anabaptist historiography. As the Fretz Scholar, Neufeld will offer a public lecture, collaborate with IAMS colleagues and the archives, and use the unique resources of the Milton Good Library.

 “The College’s strengths in the area of Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies, represented by Grebel’s faculty and the resources available in the Milton Good Library and Mennonite Archives of Ontario, align perfectly with my own teaching and research interests,” said Neufeld. “With the support of the Fretz Fellowship, I intend to expand an existing project on early Anabaptist archival practices and cultures and their impact on shaping what we can know about these nonconformists. I will continue to prepare my doctoral dissertation, which explores dynamics of coexistence and conflict between Anabaptists and Reformed in seventeenth-century Zurich, for publication.”


Dr. Ben Nobbs-Thiessen

The Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies announces the 2018/2019 recipient of the J. Winfield Fretz Fellowship, Dr. Ben Nobbs-Thiessen.  A Latin American historian whose research focuses on the evolving history of the low-German Mennonite diaspora in the region, he completed his PhD at Emory University in 2016 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University.  His book project, Landscape of Migration: Mobility and Agro-Environmental Change on Bolivia’s Tropical Frontier, is currently under review for publication.  It explores the role of indigenous Andean, Mennonite and Okinawan settlers in Bolivia’s “March to the East,” which was per capita one of the largest tropical colonization projects of the 20th century.  His work has been published in the Journal of Mennonite Studies, Agricultural History, and the Journal of Latin American Studies.  

Dr. Nobbs-Thiessen will take up residency at Conrad Grebel in May 2019 for two months. Drawing on resources at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario and Milton Good Library, he plans to “explore the environmental, economic and religious factors that produced and sustained multi-generational trans-border Mennonite communities” in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Dr. Aileen Friesen

Aileen FriesenThe inaugural recipient of the Fretz Fellowship is Dr. Aileen Friesen of Waterloo, Ontario. Dr. Friesen is an emerging scholar in the field of Russian Mennonite history, with an emphasis on religious minorities in Siberia. She completed her doctorate at the University of Alberta and has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Winnipeg.  In 2016, Dr. Friesen gave the inaugural lecture at the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies at University of Winnipeg on the topic: “Indigenous-Mennonite Relations in the Russian Empire.” She is currently working on projects related to the 1920s emigration of Mennonites from the Soviet Union, and on Mennonite-Muslim relations in Russia.