MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement—one year later

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grebel Building project 2012-13

“Sponsor debates on peace issues.”  “Promote international peace through music.” “Become a peace and technology centre—mapping where peace is vulnerable in our world today.”  “Display peace art in the gallery.”  “Form research teams that produce effective peace-building practices in our schools.” “Study the environment as a peace issue.” “Host visiting peace advocates from the global church.”

These are just some of the dreams expressed in interviews with 42 outside experts that have helped to form the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) Centre for Peace Advancement (CPA).

One year ago, MSCU gifted Conrad Grebel University College $1 million to establish an entire fourth floor to the current three-storey academic expansion capital campaign ($8.7 million) to study, practice, and pursue peace.

Since then, more than 50 donors have joined the cause, giving over $400,000 toward a remaining goal of $500,000 to build this collaborative, innovative space for peace.

A “Centre for Peace Advancement Task Force” was struck to flesh out the initial idea for the Centre and to gather input from others. President Susan Schultz Huxman, Jim Pankratz (Dean) and Lowell Ewert (Director of Peace and Conflict Studies) met with dozens of people in civil society organizations, centre directors,  and other business and church leaders to share the vision and get important feedback.

President Huxman said, “We envision the formation of an innovative, collaborative and high achieving academic centre committed to research, training, and community engagement around multi-sector peacemaking issues in our world today.”

“Our many experts have responded to an emerging working position statement with praise and counsel,” Huxman continued. “We have heard such things as:

“The CPA should become THE place of expertise on peace issues if this gets implemented right”;

And “The CPA could be very effective at connecting the hundreds of different groups that rarely connect to each other.”

Brent Zorgdrager, CEO of MSCU said: “We’ve been very excited to see the Grebel community take hold of a vision and work hard to articulate the shape and direction of the centre. We’re confident that our members will value this investment in advancing peace in our communities for many years to come.”

The 6,000 square feet of the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement will be home for faculty, staff and students at Conrad Grebel, working groups within the University of Waterloo, visiting scholars and practitioners, professionals in residence, short and long-term affiliate groups, start-up entrepreneurs and peace underwriters. The centre has an open, flexible floor plan. It includes: a display gallery, a “buzz” room, seminar and project rooms, an “incubator zone,” think tank room, affiliate group space, a graduate “hive” for Grebel’s two graduate programs as well as several offices, reception area and washrooms.

Conrad Grebel University College is uniquely positioned to incubate 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 idea that reach beyond the  campus. In the fall of 2012, Grebel launched its second graduate program, a Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS).

For more information, contact
Fred W. Martin
Director of Development
Conrad Grebel University College
519-885-0220 x24381