Category: academics (Page 1 of 9)

Diversity and Connection: Environmental Studies at CMU

For the pasGraham Peterst two years, I have been enrolled in the Environmental Studies program at CMU, and it has been an exciting time in my education.

My first year started with general biology courses designed to cover as much information as possible. These courses opened a window into the fascinating world of life. From cells to basic body structure, we learned the complex inner workings that make up all living things, and how closely all life is interconnected. I was introduced to a world with many similarities between living things, that is still astoundingly diverse.

As my studies become more focused on particular subjects, the learning becomes more difficult, and more intriguing. The world that I was introduced to in first year biology has become more complex, and the continuity between classes is fascinating. Each class seems to complement the other. Learning about genes and how they are handed down in one class, blends into another on how diversity within a species is possible. As the classes become more focused, topics begin to fit together more clearly.

201412 Education-CMU (8)

All this is enhanced by the work that is done in the lab. Classroom learning suddenly becomes real, as we are able to observe the characteristics of different plant, animal, and bacteria species right before our eyes. The lines between the textbook and the lab became blurred. Both are learning environments in their own right, but together they enhance my understanding experience. Each setting offers new insights into an ever expanding area of study, and it probably helps that the professors in the classroom also teach in the lab.

Maybe more helpful than the classroom learning and the time spent in the lab, is the time spent in the field. Classes are encouraged to go out and experience the nature that we are learning about. We are constantly encouraged to learn within the natural spaces around us. The Assiniboine Forest offers a unique space to learn and observe. This opportunity makes lessons and experiments tangible.


Unique to CMU are the integrative classes that teach about the Bible and the natural world, in which students can explore the environment from a theological and ethical perspective. We learn how people ought to live with creation and learn the beauty of it through both science and theology.

Every aspect of my education at CMU is connected to a larger whole. It’s  less a collection of pieces of knowledge, but the formation of a whole, giving me a glimpse at the bigger picture of creation. Each course offers a unique exploration of a subject within environmental studies, and at the same time, they all are closely interconnected. The labs and diverse classes have helped me build my own knowledge of the environment, and I plan to take it forward with me as I continue learning.

Graham Peters is a third year Environmental Studies student from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

3 things I wish I’d known: Advice from a first year CMU student

Nicole Ternowesky

“Do you have to wear a skirt and bonnet there?” “Are you allowed to listen to music and watch TV?” “Don’t you have to be a Mennonite to go there?” These were some of the questions my shocked friends and families asked last year when I told them I’d decided to go to Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in the fall. Once I had reassured my family that I was going to an open-minded, welcoming, Christian university, I began to wonder what life at CMU might look like for me. Below is some advice I wish I had known before coming here, and I hope it will help you prepare all you prospective students for your first year at CMU.

1) Your faith will be challenged and nurtured.

Coming to CMU, I thought I knew ‘enough’ about the Bible, the creation story, Exodus, birth of baby Jesus, and His death and resurrection. I wasn’t prepared to read or discuss the tough stuff in the Bible, like violence, oppression, and pain. Often your Bible and Theology courses will leave you with many questions to wrestle with. But CMU is also a place that will nurture and strengthen your faith. As you grapple with these difficult truths, you will have the opportunity to worship God and experience his presence in new ways. Some places where my faith has grown is the prayer room on north, the Chapel on south and in the Poettcker Hall first floor lounge. Addressing the questions that threatened to weaken my faith in God actually helped me to deepen my understanding and relationship with Him.

2) Community is valued and promoted at CMU.

It is very important to participate in the fun events that are planned for the first week of school. This gives you an opportunity to meet other students and make new friends. At this early stage in the year, everyone will be feeling awkward, so don’t worry! I was very nervous coming to CMU that I would have difficult making friends, but I am now in a Snapchat group chat with 20 of my closest CMU friends. But honestly, I have made a some true friends here at CMU who have become like sisters to me. I now believe what people say about forming friendships at university that will last a lifetime.

Nicole Ternowsky - A student slides down a slip and slide during CMU's GO Olympics!

3) Now for the most important part: school.

My first piece of advice is to put yourself out there! Seriously, your professors will notice and remember you. CMU is unique because there is much more opportunity for class discussion and debate due to the smaller class sizes. My second piece of advice is choose classes, projects, and essays you are interested in, because when paper season comes around, you will be exhausted, but you will have learned about material you care about and have gained knowledge you can use in the ‘real world’. My last piece of advice is to invest in a good agenda or day planner. Seriously. Organization is key in university because it allows you to schedule enough time for studying, while still making time for friends, and other events at CMU.

At CMU you will grow as a Christian, a friend, and an intellectual. Looking back at my first year here, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at CMU, for new friends I’ve gained, and for my growing relationship with God.

Nicole Ternowesky is completing her first year at CMU.

CMU’s next open house is happening on March 27, 2018. Drop in and find out if CMU is the right place for you after high school!

Perseverance and Prayer: Finding My Place in CMU’s Psychology Program

When I came to CMU, my plan was to do sciences and later pursue a medical degree. But when I started my science classes, I realized that I really wasn’t that passionate about Sciences. I also didn’t perform particularly well so that would have hindered any plans of going to medical school.

Loma Mkhabela - Perseverance and Prayer: Finding My Place in CMU's Psychology Program

It took me a while to figure out what else I was passionate about. I knew that I wanted to be in a position where I was going to help people, but I was not certain what exactly that would look like.

At that time, I was on conditional continuance, since my grades weren’t that great, and I had to be really careful about how I went about choosing my courses. My grades were not all bad, though. I had good marks in most of the social science courses that I took, and I was advised by Wesley Toews to consider going into more social sciences courses to see whether that was the right fit for me. Turns out, I wasn’t that bad at social sciences, so I stuck with them.

I took my first psychology course in my second year, which is pretty late. But guess what? I absolutely enjoyed it and wanted to stick with it.

Now that I knew what I wanted to do, things seemed to be moving in the right direction. Psychology seemed like the best option for me; I still got to work with people, and that convinced me to pursue it.

My experience as a psychology student has been good. I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about myself while pursuing what I’m interested in. The psychology courses I’ve had the opportunity to take have been intriguing and informing, but also challenging. All the professors I’ve had so far have been good at keeping the courses interesting. I also like that I get to be taught by different professors who tend to connect their work experiences in psychology with the courses that they are teaching. It gives you an idea of what a career in psychology could look like.

Loma Mkhabela - Perseverance and Prayer: Finding My Place in CMU's Psychology ProgramNo one tells you this, but CMU has a very high standard of writing. Maybe not high, per se, but it requires more than what they teach you in high school. I had to learn how to write in APA (American Psychological Association) format. To this day, I still haven’t mastered how to do it and I continue to learn as I write more papers. You have to keep your pocket manual close as it becomes your best friend for the rest of your academic career.

I know I wouldn’t have gotten this far without my faith and belief in God. Through Him, all things are possible. Through the tough times, He has been constant. Prayer is a very powerful weapon, and as I have continued in my academic endeavours, that just seems to be truer. Keeping my trust and faith in Him and knowing that He has a plan for me has kept me going. It is also a testament that no matter how hard things seem to be, there is always a way.

Loma Mkhabela is in her fourth year of a Psychology degree at CMU.

Studying the In Between: CMU’s Communications and Media Program

When I entered university, I had my plan all set. I was going to spend a couple of years at CMU taking science courses, and then get a degree in Kinesiology elsewhere. That plan didn’t last long. It took me only one year to realize that a degree in the sciences was not for me. It was not that I did poorly in the sciences, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to make a career out of. Having always enjoyed writing, I decided to try some communications and media classes in my second year. That change in direction turned into my major.

Jason Friesen - Studying the In Between: CMU’s Communications and Media Program

Studying communications is not like studying anything else. Whereas most majors in the sciences and arts look at the final product of information, communications studies stops before making it to the final product, to study how that information gets relayed and passed along.

With courses on radio, live streaming, sound production, video making, journalism, and graphic design, CMU gives a broad sweep of different technical skills that are valuable to anybody who wants a job in communications.

There are many ways to relay messages in today’s age, and CMU does a fantastic job of introducing students to many of those forms. With courses on radio, live streaming, sound production, video making, journalism, and graphic design, CMU gives a broad sweep of different technical skills that are valuable to anybody who wants a job in communications. In talking to various communications professionals, it’s obvious that multimedia is important in today’s world, so learning a variety of skills is important.

CMU enables communications grads to not only produce content, but to actually think critically about what they and others are producing, and what the effects are on society.

CMU doesn’t merely teach you the “hard” skills of communications, though. They  focus on the “soft” side as well. You get to analyze why you use these skills, and how to use them in an ethical and life-giving way. Through learning about things like new media, Christianity in the mass media, and politics in the mass media through theory courses, CMU enables communications grads to not only produce content, but to actually think critically about what they and others are producing, and what the effects are on society.  

Jason Friesen - Studying the In Between: CMU’s Communications and Media Program

On top of all this, a communications degree at CMU is not just a two-year program that teaches you only about communications. You need to take electives and courses outside of your major to fulfil the degree. This forces you to study other topics, and see how other disciplines look at the world. And as communications professor David Balzer said to me, “You’ll never communicate about communicating in the real world. You’ll communicate about business, biology, mathematics, psychology, and so on.” Good communication doesn’t just require knowledge of how to relay a message; it requires knowledge about what you’re talking about.

Combining all that you learn in the class with a practicum placement really rounds out the program. I have spent time at practicums first at Manitoba Public Insurance and now at True North Sports + Entertainment this year, and both experiences have allowed me to learn lessons I never would in the classroom.

The communications program helped me to realize the direction I want to go for a career in communications, and I’ve seen myself grow as a communicator to the point where I feel confident I’ll find work after graduation.

Jason Friesen is our lead blogger, and he’s in his final year of a Communications and Media degree at CMU.

The Pros and Cons of CMU’s Many Study Spaces

It’s that time of year again…the time of year when you’re breathing a sigh of relief from finishing all your papers and assignments, yet holding your breath for your upcoming exams. Well, hopefully you’re doing more than just holding your breath for your exams and actually doing some studying as well. That makes finding a good study spot integral to success. CMU has a vast array of study spaces, each with a different vibe. So how are you supposed to choose? Here are a few helpful hints to get you started:

Study Rooms:

Study Rooms - The Pros and Cons of CMU’s Many Study Spaces

Some days, these are the most coveted study spots on campus, so you had better be on top of things if you want one. There’s a reason they are so well liked; you can create your own study atmosphere. It’s just you and whomever you invited to study with you, so everything from dead silence to heavy metal jams is cool. Most of them have windows to let in natural light too, so that’s a bonus. And there’s whiteboards in each room for those of you who are visual learners.

Folio Café and The Mezzanine:

Folio Cafe and the Mezzanine - The Pros and Cons of CMU’s Many Study Spaces

You shouldn’t ever have trouble finding a study buddy here, as these places are constantly bustling. Unless you go late in the evening, in which case it can rival the library for quietness. But if you’re going during the day, expect a constant din in the background and a steady flow of friends to distract you. But if you’re struggling to stay awake, at least you can grab a cup of coffee.


The Library - The Pros and Cons of CMU’s Many Study Spaces

It’s hardly even fair to consider this one study space, since there are a variety of study space options within the library. Whether you prefer a large table, a comfortable chair, or a study carol, it’s all there. On top of all that, you’re sure to get plenty of natural light during your study session. And even though the sunlight might tempt you out of your study habits, the silence that surrounds you is sure to keep you on track.

North Campus Lounges:

North Campus Lounges - The Pros and Cons of CMU’s Many Study Spaces

The only place that has couches that rival those of CMU’s lounges is the Blaurock Café…and that’s because they have the same ones. Seriously, comfort will be the least of your concerns in the lounges on north campus. Trying not to fall asleep, however, might be a little more challenging. The lounges are relatively small too, so they have a nice intimate feel. And you know they won’t be as busy as Marpeck Commons, so if seclusion is your thing, this might be the place for you.

Blaurock Café:

The Blaurock - The Pros and Cons of CMU’s Many Study Spaces

“The Blau”, or CMU’s original café, is still the cosiest spot to study on campus. With comfy couches abounding and warm beverages brewing, it’s a great place to set up your studies for many hours, particularly in the cold of winter. And despite popular belief, you don’t have to be a music student to study there. Just like the north campus lounges though, napping is a serious threat to productivity here, especially with the warm, dim lighting.

Jason Friesen is our lead blogger, and he’s in his final year of a Communications and Media degree at CMU.

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