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Friday, December 23, 2011

New Peace and Conflict Studies Professor provides a building block for growing program

Waterloo, Ontario – An expert in civil society peacebuilding, Professor Reina Neufeldt will be joining the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) department at the University of Waterloo, based at Conrad Grebel University College, beginning July 1, 2012. Neufeldt comes to Conrad Grebel from American University in Washington D.C. where her research focuses on the intersection of identity, social change, ethics, and peace processes. Her dissertation examined Mennonite identity maintenance and change during three periods of conflict in the 20th Century. She received her PhD in International Relations in 2005, and holds an MA in Social Psychology.

President Susan Schultz Huxman stated:

In her new role as Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Reina will bring an outstanding portfolio of teaching, research, and service expertise to the PACS program. She is well-positioned to articulate the identity, mission and values of Conrad Grebel University College in the wider community.

Bringing a well-established research background to the college, Professor Neufeldt approaches her work from the perspective of international relations and social psychology in both qualitative and quantitative methods. Neufeldt’s service and work in North America and overseas with Mennonite Central Committee, Catholic Relief Services, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, at Notre Dame provides valuable experience in applying the scholarship and teaching of peace.

Jim Pankratz, Dean at Conrad Grebel, explained:

Professor Neufeldt adds several important dimensions to Grebel's PACS program. She has taught graduate students in the themes, methods and analytical perspectives that are foundational in peace studies. She has done significant research on Mennonite peacebuilding. And her southeast Asia field experience complements the diverse international experience of other Grebel faculty. She will be one of the core faculty members who will shape the new Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) program and provide inspiration to the innovative Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement in the years ahead. We are very pleased to welcome her to this significant role at Grebel and the University of Waterloo.

With her decision to teach at Grebel partly tied to the introduction of the new MPACS program, Neufeldt is

delighted to join the PACS team and to help launch the MPACS program. The Peace and Conflict Studies undergraduate program at Conrad Grebel was an early pioneer in the field, and I believe MPACS builds on this superb foundation and breaks new, exciting ground.

Neufeldt is also drawn to Grebel because

the college gains inspiration from foundational Anabaptist/Mennonite values of justice and peace, while at the same time engages with leading-edge research and thinking within the larger academic and professional communities. I think this cross-fertilization and engagement is particularly important in peacebuilding and conflict transformation,

commented Neufeldt.

It presents a wonderful opportunity for me to work with students who are developing their professional and academic skills in ways that will further enable them to contribute effectively, creatively, and skillfully to building peace.

Basing her teaching approach on her non-governmental organization and academic research experiences, students taking classes with Neufeldt can look forward to tackling real-world problems and challenges in the classroom, and engaging in building peace with the larger world creatively, responsibly, and sensitively.

Neufeldt looks forward to moving to the Waterloo Region with her family and husband, Narendran Kumarakulasingam, who is currently a professor at the School of International Service, American University.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Master of Peace and Conflict Studies encourages agents of peaceful change

Waterloo, Ontario - In the culmination of more than a decade of dreaming and a year of intense work, Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo announces the launch of a new Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) program. Combining rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship with concrete application, MPACS is a vibrant academic program that will empower students with the knowledge, research, and practical skills needed to contribute to nonviolent peacebuilding efforts. MPACS places a unique focus on the pivotal role that individuals within civil society play as catalysts for peace. The MPACS program will be a course-based, professional graduate program open to both full-time and part-time students beginning in the fall of 2012.

While the field of peace and conflict studies has been steadily growing over the last decade, the number of graduate programs available in Canada has not kept pace. The MPACS program will become one of only a handful of peace and conflict studies graduate programs in Canada. The program will be especially unique among graduate programs in this field for its specific emphasis on empowering civil society in fostering positive change. 

Lowell Ewert, Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) program at Conrad Grebel observes that,

civil society is key to peacebuilding because it brings out the best in humanity by inspiring citizens to take responsibility for their communities and develop creative solutions to local issues. Imagine how impoverished our communities would be if there were no effective civil society organizations. By mobilizing our community to get involved in organizations that promote the arts, sports, health, education, religion or social justice our communities are enriched and made more compassionate.

Based at Conrad Grebel, MPACS will draw on the unique resources that the Peace and Conflict Studies department – the oldest such department in Canada – and the University of Waterloo have to offer. Program reviewers George Lopez (Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame), and Vern Neufeld Redekop, (Associate Professor of Conflict Studies at St. Paul University) called the program

a well-conceived venture which is highly reflective of both Conrad Grebel’s mission as a Mennonite educational institution and the aspirations of the University of Waterloo to offer strong, competitive and professional graduate programs.

Susan Schultz Huxman noted:

Peace studies are in our DNA. The undergraduate program in PACS has been wildly successful by many measures. College stakeholders recognized this 15 years ago when they first began developing the idea for graduate education at Grebel.

Applications for the MPACS program are currently being accepted by the Graduate Studies Office at the University of Waterloo. Equipped with interdisciplinary knowledge and practical skills of peace building, MPACS graduates will be ready for careers in public, private, or non-profit sectors, working as agents of peaceful change at community, institutional, and systematic levels. Prospective students interested in stepping into careers as practitioners are especially encouraged to apply.

For more information, visit the MPACS website.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

MSCU gives Grebel $1 million for peace

This updated design of the academic building includes an entire 4th floor that will house the peace centre. Read more about the Next Chapter Building Project or view detailed floor plans.

Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) and Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC) are pleased to announce the creation of the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel. MSCU’s one million dollar commitment will empower Conrad Grebel to create an accelerator centre committed to collaborative peace innovation with lasting impact.  

We’re thrilled to make such a transformational commitment to peace building in our world. We believe the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement will be an innovative expression of our core values and are gratified that we’re able to share our resources to enhance the Mennonite tradition of building peace-filled communities,

stated Brent Zorgdrager, chief executive officer of MSCU.    

Together, MSCU and CGUC envision an MSCU peace centre that is a hub of entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary collaboration, fostering new ways to advance peace in a conflict-filled world. In addition to teaching and research facilities, the centre will provide shared seminar and project space for students and faculty, as well as space for community service organizations, pastors, and other peace builders. 

Conrad Grebel is uniquely positioned to accelerate peace research and action. The college houses Canada’s oldest Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) program which interacts with theology, music, and other academic programs of the College to foster a fertile ground for growing ideas that reach beyond the campus. Grebel has a rich legacy of peace teaching and research, including the genesis of Project Ploughshares, Canada’s premiere ecumenical peace research and advocacy organization. Adding the Centre will now increase the current building plans to four floors, with construction slated to start in March 2012.

This is a new day at Grebel,

stated Susan Schultz Huxman, Grebel’s new president.

A day marked by a great partnership with MSCU to advance peace education and action here at home and around the world. Grebel and the University of Waterloo understand how interdisciplinary education and innovation work hand in hand. We’re excited to enhance our peace education work through this creative initiative!

MSCU and Conrad Grebel share a rich history and complementary values.  Both organizations were profoundly shaped by the vision of J. Winfield Fretz, Conrad Grebel’s first president. They have worked in partnership over the past years, and from these shared roots, they look forward to preparing the next generation of community leaders, peace researchers, and social innovators. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

John Rempel returns to Grebel for a role at TMTC

Conrad Grebel University College is pleased to announce that Dr. John Rempel, currently Professor of Historical Theology and Anabaptist Studies at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Elkhart Indiana, will be the next Director of the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre at the Toronto School of Theology (TST).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Local historian and genealogist to be honoured

For decades, Lorraine Roth has been a wonderful resource for Mennonite and Amish families researching their history and genealogy. This Tavistock resident will be honoured at a fundraising dinner on Thursday, October 13 for her life-long contribution at the Tavistock Mennonite Church at 5:30pm.

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