Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Wendy Kroeker

WK01Wendy Kroeker, Instructor in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies and Co-Director of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding, has taught at CMU since 2011.

What do you love about your work here?

Working at CMU gives us the opportunity to get to know students over a period of time, interacting with them during significant moments of life decision-making. Watching them take opportunities to engage in community events and issues gives me hope for the world.

What are you teaching right now that you’re most excited about?

This past semester, I taught an upper level PACTS course called Cultures of Violence, Cultures of Peace. I wanted to find ways for students to begin to love and appreciate theory. I’m thrilled if I’ve been part of inspiring an activist or the heart of an activist in someone, but as someone who’s doing my own academic work and working in an academic institution, I do want to excite students about theory. If we aren’t grounding ourselves in really thinking through things substantially, how do we move into meaningful action?

What are you researching and writing?

I am currently working on my PhD dissertation. I’m using the Philippines as a case study. I interviewed 36 Filipinos who are deeply engaged in peacebuilding, who come from highly colonial, conflict-impacted trauma environments, and I’m trying to honour their stories by creating some theory out of the patterns of what I’m hearing from them. Although I’m using the Philippines as my case study right now, I will eventually turn the findings from this dissertation project into looking at our Canadian context, and how the learnings from courageous local peacebuilders in the Philippines might lead to creative ways in which we can follow the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls for action.

Where or how do students give you hope?

In November, a group of students went to a Standing Rock protest at Portage and Main. At a certain moment, they all went over the barricades and shut down Portage and Main at rush hour. One student spoke about her experience in chapel. Hearing her talk about moving over the barricades and realizing her own agency—that gave me some hope. It shows me that the things we talk about in class are moving deeper than the surface.

What do you most long for in your work?

I want students to look for opportunities and possibilities where they won’t just be bystanders, but upstanders – people who see a wrong and act upon it. They may not be at Portage and Main, but I want everyone to see possible ways of honouring the dignity and integrity of each person around them and see that there’s some way they can stand with people.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

Clairissa Kelly and I have begun a series of exchanges between my students and students in the Peguis Post-Secondary Transition Program. Clairissa and I have committed ourselves to thinking through how we can find ways to, with students, take steps of reconciliation. I invited the Peguis group to join the intro PACTS class in doing the blanket exercise, an interactive learning experience that teaches little-known indigenous rights history. Afterward, one of the participants shared about community experiences of residential schools. Her openness was a gift to all of us around the circle. That was a profound moment.

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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Gordon Matties

10 - Gordon Matties (November 2016)Dr. Gordon Matties, Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, will retire at the end of December after more than 30 years teaching at CMU and one of its predecessor colleges, Mennonite Brethren Bible College.

What do you love about your work here?

I love my colleagues and the students. I love that we worship together regularly. All of us are involved in a project of formation. We—faculty, staff, and students—are interested in becoming the kinds of human beings God intends for us to be: those who love beauty, goodness, and truth wherever those might be found; who long for healing, hope, and transformation in our world; and who are learning to imagine what living into God’s vision for a new heaven and a new earth might look like.

What are you teaching right now that most excites you?

Because I love movies and enjoy reflecting critically on the experience of watching movies, I continue to appreciate the course Film, Faith, & Popular Culture. I think movies have a unique capacity to offer us windows into the human condition and hold up mirrors of our joys and struggles. We see light refracted through the prism of particular stories into the colorful variety of human experience. Movies draw us deeply into the worldview questions: Where are we? Who are we? What’s wrong? Is there a remedy?

What are you researching and writing?

Recently I contributed an essay to A University of the Church for the World: Essays in Honour of Gerald Gerbrandt. The essay’s title is “Slow Food: Feasting Sustainably on Scripture.” I’m thinking about developing the idea of that essay into a book-length project. It has to do with what we expect to get from our reading of Scripture. I advocate for patient attentiveness, in contrast to the fast food approach to Scripture that assumes there’s always something in it for me on my terms now. It’s a project on biblical spirituality that focuses on ways of becoming formed slowly by Scripture.

What you are reading for enjoyment?

Besides the excellent articles posted by friends on Facebook and The Globe and Mail, I am reading Barkskins by Annie Proulx. It’s about the early settler and indigenous contact, the beginning of the global lumber industry, and the decimation of the world’s forests. I’m also reading Very Married: Field Notes on Love and Fidelity by Katherine Willis Pershey, Rumours of Glory: A Memoir by Bruce Cockburn, The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen, and You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James Smith.

Where or how do students give you hope?

So many of our students are activists. They want to live out their dreams and work to change the world. They aren’t afraid of taking risks. They are impatient with thinking without doing.

What saying or motto inspires you?

In my first few years of teaching, I developed this motto: Nurturing the Mind; Minding the Heart; Mending the World. I’ve now got it tacked up on the bulletin board beside my office door. It’s my philosophy of education in a nutshell. I developed the motto after reading Parker Palmer’s book To Know as We are Known: A Spirituality of Education, which I recommend highly.