Conrad Grebel University College’s Peace and Conflict Studies program (PACS) at the University of Waterloo was the first peace studies program in Canada, and has remained a leader in peace education for 40 years. With PACS’ innovative approach to learning, students can choose arts-based assignment options in many courses.
Six Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) students from Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo were selected to attend the Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) United Nations (UN) Office Seminar on November 1-3, 2023. The three-day event held in New York City invited student delegates from across Canada and the United States to gather with one question in mind, does the UN matter?
This past July, UN Secretary-General António Guterres presented his Policy Brief on A New Agenda for Peace, an outline of his vision for peace and security based on international law. Students learned, discussed, and evaluated this new agenda, applying learnings to their own context and listening to perspectives from fellow students. The seminar offered an opportunity to engage with presenters from the fields of UN diplomacy, international NGOs, and MCC experts and partners. Hosted at the Church Center of the UN, faith-based advocacy was also a prominent topic, alongside general discussion and learning about calls to reform the UN.
“The UN doesn’t have as much power as I initially thought they did,” said delegate and first-year PACS student, Barak Kline. Upper-year PACS student Rhys Fitzpatrick added that “there seems to be frustration from many peacebuilders due to geopolitical barriers,” noting that it is often up to individuals within the UN to do the best they can to work around them.
The trip provided students with the opportunity to step out of the realm of their textbooks momentarily and learn first-hand the realities that surround the peacebuilding sector. “The honesty of the speakers regarding deficiencies of the institute has inspired me to look more critically at the systems that govern our world,” shared Rhys. He believes that the UN “certainly has the capacity not only to matter in peacebuilding but to be the driving force behind it.”
There was no shortage of diverse perspectives and stories as UN representatives flew in and presented from countries across the world, such as Korea, Sweden, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo – to name a few. “It was enlightening and encouraging to hear about peacebuilding efforts actually happening around the world in real places, with real people,” said Barak. “Too often I only hear of conflicts at their peak and not of peacebuilding in action.”
Throughout the event were moments of worship, biblical reflection, and presentations from Mennonite speakers. PACS student Katrina Janzen spoke about her learning of faith-based advocacy within the UN. “Hearing from MCC partners and staff who are connected with the UN around the world was inspiring,” she reflected. “This conference highlighted how faith-based organizations can play an important role in advocacy both locally and globally.”
Barak said he was reminded that “we serve a God of peace and that it is God who empowers us to do His will on earth.” Four of the six students individually reflected on one common outcome of the event – a newfound increase in their drive and passion for peacebuilding. Through thoughtful discussion with other students, and UN leaders, and exposure to behind-the-scenes of the peacebuilding sector, this conference enhanced student interest in PACS. “Sometimes while studying Peace and Conflict Studies, it can be hard to predict a future career in the field,” said delegate and final-year PACS student, Renee Lee Wah. “This conference helped me place into perspective what we learn in class and piece it together with the real-world impact.”
The end of the three-day conference was marked with a time of open sharing where Barak noted that he became emotional listening to his peers share reflections from the short time they shared together as a community. “My emotions empowered me and inspired me to strive for peace in new ways that I don’t understand currently,” he said. “I still have some reflecting to do. I am inspired by the calls to reform the UN as there are gaps and power imbalances that need to be fixed.”
Empowering. Inspiring. Memorable. These are the words the students used to describe their days in New York City. From kickstarting their careers to walking through Times Square, Barak, Rhys, Katrina, and Renee returned to their studies with new energy, perspectives, and drive for their field.
If you are thinking about a career in transformative peacebuilding, community leadership, entrepreneurship in conflict management programming, or a career with community and international development organizations such as the United Nations, education systems, law firms, social services, refugee resettlement program support, and more, come study Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Waterloo.
Make a Difference (MAD) Market is a one-day artisan and craft holiday market held at Conrad Grebel University College on December 2, 2023. Hosted by the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Undergrad Society, all funds collected from participating vendors, the silent auction, and the suggested $2 entry contribution will be donated to A Better Tent City, Waterloo. Fill your car with family and friends to make a difference while shopping for this holiday season!
Suggested at the door donation: $2
All organizational profits (entry donation, silent auction, vendor fees) will be donated to A Better Tent City.
Call for Vendors & Silent Auction Donations
Are you a local artist or craftsperson who would like to participate as a vendor?
Now taking vendor applications! All interested should contact Isabella by November 3rd for a vendor application package. Space is limited.
Donate to the Silent Auction!
Would you like to contribute items to the silent auction, or sponsor a basket? Contact Isabella for more information.
A Better Tent City
From the A Better Tent City website:
ABTC began as a low barrier/housing first approach to provide an opportunity to move people experiencing homelessness from dangerous conditions on the streets into a more safe and supportive community with protection from the environment, access to hygiene and sanitation facilities, and connection to services and healthcare on a path to stable housing.
Explore the University of Waterloo and Grebel
Grebel is home to a vibrant residence and academic community made up of students across all faculties and programs at the University of Waterloo.
Prospective students, families, and teachers are invited to visit Grebel to meet current students, staff, and faculty to learn about the residence and academic programs. Learn about student life at the University of Waterloo and tour the wider campus.
Take a tour of residence, learn about your faculty of interest, and sample the famous Grebel cookie!
Register in advance and receive information on in-person sessions, presentations, and how to plan your time on campus. (Coming soon)
Grebel's convenient parking is free for the day! Enter off of Westmount Road North.
Stop by for lunch
Get a taste of Grebel's menu by purchasing an all-you-can-eat lunch ticket for $10.
Tours with current students
Let current students show you around the Grebel campus, including residence rooms and facilities.
Meet Grebel faculty in Peace and Conflict Studies, Music and Mennonite Studies. They're happy to answer your program questions!
The Grebel Gallery invites the public to meet artist Mary Kavanagh as she presents her exhibition, Trinity, Then and Now. This stirring exhibition examines the long-lasting impacts of the Trinity atomic bomb test, which took place on July 16, 1945 in the desert of New Mexico. Mary has dedicated her work to the investigation of the legacy of nuclear testing.
Come to the Gallery on November 8 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm to join Mary and the community for an evening of conversation, connection, and reflection.
Refreshments and snacks will be provided.
Please participate in Bridge: Honouring the Lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit People, an annual installation for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence at the University of Waterloo.
- Opening Ceremony on Friday, October 27 at 10:00 AM
- Closing Ceremony on Friday, November 10 at 10:00 AM
Both ceremonies will take place at the Ceremonial Fire Grounds and the bridge between Environment 3 and United College and will be followed by a catered Soup Lunch and Creative Reflection.
All are invited to stay for a Soup Lunch hosted by the Shatitsirótha' Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) and supported by the Department of Communication Arts after the Opening and Closing Ceremonies from 12:30 to 1:30 PM. Al McDonald is returning as the Ceremonial Fire Keeper.
Working with Shatitsirótha' Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC), the Office of Indigenous Relations (ORI), the Sexual Violence Prevention Response Office (SVPRO), and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Dr. Sorouja Moll initiated Bridge in 2015 to create a space for all University community members to learn about the crisis as they reflect upon their responsibilities and share in speaking the names of the lives taken to honour and remember as the red fabric is tied to the bridge between Environment 3 and United College.
For the Opening Ceremony, we are requesting volunteers to read the names — please contact Sorouja Moll.
The gesture to name, remember, and honour the 5000+ missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit People across the many nations in Canada is an active engagement in learning about the depth of the crisis in Canada while resisting and (en)countering the existing silence that continues to shroud it. Originally installed in Montreal in 2009, as The Writing Names Project, Moll's research-creation initiative is a counter-memorial and is part of a meaningful and sustained collaborative intercultural praxis between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
In this journal, I reflect on my experience working with the Mennonite Central Committee’s partners in Rwanda - Transformational Leadership Center (TLC), an organization that runs the peace library where I was placed as an intern.
Liv Miller is a student graduating shortly at the end of this fall term. She shared some reflections and thoughts on the PACS program, how it helped their career and extra-curricular service activities, advocacies and initiatives, and how they imagine it will help her career moving forward after graduation.
To mark the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2023, Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director at Project Ploughshares, will give a talk entitled From the Cuban Missile Crisis to Today: Nuclear Weapons 60 Years On. Hosted as part of the MPACS Thursday Talk: Research Series and in celebration of Grebel's 60th Anniversary, this talk will engage important questions related to nuclear weapons and non-proliferation.
Welcome back to another bright and crispy fall term! Another summer has come and gone, and the leaves are turning orange too soon. But this too is a new beginning!
A fun fact about September, it was originally the seventh month of the year! That's why it's called Sept-ember. It was changed during the calendar reforms when the year became 12 months, and the year no longer began in March. Regardless of which September you are living in, I hope you enjoy this period's bi-weekly newsletter.