Ray Vander Zaag

Associate Prof., International Development Studies; Associate Dean, Program; Program Coord. for MA-Peacebuilding and Collaborative Development

Ray Vander Zaag


International Development Studies




204.487.3300 x643



Ray's interests and approaches to international development are primarily shaped by his NGO work experience in rural Haiti from 1985 to 1993, but also by a short stint working at CIDA and an upbringing on a potato farm. His teaching and research interests are religion, development and faith-based NGOs, rural development in Haiti, and development assistance policy and programming. Ray has been teaching at CMU since 2000, primarily at the Shaftesbury campus but also at Menno Simons College (at the University of Winnipeg campus).

Ray was raised on a potato farm in south-central Ontario. After graduating from Calvin College (BSc – Biology) and Michigan State University (MSc – Crop and Soil Sciences), he went to work in Haiti with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now World Renew). During the first five years in Haiti, he worked in a rural community development program, supporting local staff and community groups involved in agriculture, reforestation, cooperative, literacy, water, and leadership activities. The next three years he was located in Port-au-Prince as Country Director for CRWRC programs in Haiti.

Returning to Canada, he earned an MA in International Affairs (Development Studies) and a PhD (Geography) at Carleton University. His dissertation involved 11 months of field research on NGO/local community relations in rural Haiti. Ray then worked for a year for the Canadian International Development Agency as a project officer in the Southeast Asia Regional Program before joining CMU's faculty in 2000.

Areas of Teaching

NGOs, Religion and Development, Program Planning and Evaluation, Geography


Ph.D. (Geography), Carleton University, 1999; M.A. (International Affairs), Carleton University, 1995; M.Sc. (Crop and Soil Sciences), Michigan State University, 1984; B.Sc. (Biology), Calvin College, 1982

Work in Detail


Courses recently taught:

IDS-1000  Introduction to International Development Studies I Theory
GEOG-1010  Introduction to Human Geography
IDS-2000  The Project Cycle
IDS/GEOG-2131  Rural Development
IDS-3111  Analysis of Development Aid Policy
IDS/HRGS-3820 Selected Topics:  Global Food Security (at MSC/UofW)
IDS/INTG-4040  Religion and Development
IDS/CRS-4920  Program Planning in Development and Conflict Resolution (at MSC/UofW)



Vander Zaag, R. 2016. "Transforming Learning and Development." In Paul Dyck and Harry Huebner (eds), A University of the Church for the World: Essays in Honour of Gerald Gerbrandt. Winnipeg: CMU Press.

Religion, Faith-based NGOs, and Development:

Vander Zaag, R. 2014. "Trends in CIDA funding to Canadian religious development NGOs:  analysing conflicting studies."  Canadian Journal of Development Studies. Vol. 35(3): 458-474. DOI: 10.1080/02255189.2014.937405

Vander Zaag, R., 2013. "Canadian faith-based development NGOs and CIDA funding."  Canadian Journal of Development Studies. Vol. 34(2): 321-347.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02255189.2013.792726

Vander Zaag, R., 2010. "Understanding the theologies of faith-based NGOs" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Studies in International Development (CASID), Concordia University, Montreal.

Current research underway on how Christian development NGOs in Haiti integrate their faith perspectives into their programming, based on field interviews conducted in March 2013.

Development Aid Policy

Vander Zaag, R., 2012.  "The ideals of international development assistance."  In Drolet, J. and T. Heinonen (eds), International Social Work:  Canadian social work experiences and perspectives." Halifax: Fernwood Books.

Rural Development in Haiti

Vander Zaag, R., 2007.  "Food Security in Haiti: A Review of the Debates."  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Studies in International Development (CASID), University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.

Vander Zaag, R., 2005.  "Negotiating Women's Empowerment: NGO and Women's Discourses in Rural Haiti."  Paper presented at a joint session of Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) and Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG), Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London.

Vander Zaag, R., 1999.  "'We do not yet have development':  Encounters of development knowledges, identities and practices in a NGO program in rural Haiti."  unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Carleton University.  Available online: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape4/PQDD_0020/NQ48356.pdf


Ray's applied development experiences have been focused in Haiti, where he has lead or participated in a number of evaluations, planning workshops and fact-finding missions.

2016: The Salvation Army – Canada & Bermuda Territory & Haiti Division. End-of-Project Evaluation of TSA's Integrated Family Support Project (2012-2017), which included components in housing, vocational training, livelihood support and agriculture.

2014: Mennonite Central Committee. Leader of three-person evaluation team of MCC's five-year Haiti Earthquake Response.

2013: World Renew and ZOA Netherlands. Conducted a two-week Final Evaluation of LEAP (Livelihoods for Earthquake Affected People) Project, Leogane, Haiti.

2012: Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and ACT Alliance. Conducted a two-week Resources Management Audit of CRWRC's Haiti Earthquake Response in Leogane. 

2010: Sous Espwa (combined programming of Christian Reformed Church in North America agencies in Haiti – CRWRC, CRWM and BTGHI). Facilitated a four-day strategic planning workshop with field staff and headquarters managers.

2008: Panel presenter in session "Food Crisis, Natural Disasters, and Rural Transformation" at University of Ottawa colloquium "De la stabilisation et la reconstruction au developpement: Enjeux pour Haiti, le Bresil et le Canada", December 11-12, 2008, Ottawa.

2008: Member of Observation Mission on the Right to Food in Haiti, May 25-31, 2008, sponsored by Rights and Democracy and GRAMIR.  Published report:  "The Human Right to Food in Haiti:  Report of an International Fact-finding MIssion."  Online: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/dd-rd/E84-35-2008-eng.pdf

2003:  Mennonite Central Committee–Haiti. Member of three-person program evaluation team which provided recommendations for MCC–Haiti future programming.


Ray is the volunteer representative of World Renew to the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC). In 2011, he was elected to MCIC's board, and was a member of its Executive Committee from 2013 to 2016.

In 2016 Ray was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Christian Studies, a small community-supported graduate school in Toronto (www.icscanada.edu/home). He is a member the Finance Committee.

Ray is a Council member and occasional lay preacher at his church, Good News Fellowship CRC. He is also an active participant in the Saturday morning pick-up hockey games when the outdoor rinks are open.

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