Category: academics (Page 1 of 8)

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.

Library:

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.

CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

So far, the three years I have spent studying music at CMU have been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.

Emma Heinrichs - CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

Studying music is unique because you are constantly able to see how the things you are learning in the classroom directly relate to your individual growth as a musician.

This allows us to see how our hard work is paying off, and provides a reward for the endless amount of hours spent in a practice room!

CMU takes a more holistic approach to music. The music program aims to develop well-rounded musicians, as opposed to musicians who are only proficient in one area. And it addresses many areas of musicianship that are often overlooked and not covered in private music lessons.

I have also found that CMU values you as a person. Yes, you are here to get an education, but your success as an individual is also valued.

Within the larger community of CMU, the music school feels like a tight-knit family of students and faculty, who support and care for one another. I feel comfortable asking my profs questions about my degree, assignments, future, or even just what’s going on in my life.

Within the music degree, CMU places value on collaborative work, which allows you to share in the process of music making with your peers.

For me, collaborative work has given me the opportunity to work together with various vocalists and instrumentalists, sing in and accompany choirs, lead music in chapel, and play in the Mennonite Community Orchestra.

Emma Heinrichs - CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

Several highlights for me have been singing in CMU ensembles with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, accompanying a vocalist for their credit recital, and playing in the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition. All of these are experiences where I have seen my learning applied practically, and how it’s paid off.

It’s tough to truly experience what I mean if you’re not in the music program at CMU. But every once in a while, the music program gives a glimpse into the tight-knit family that it is. And there’s probably no better place to witness that than at Christmas at CMU.

Though it’s not a requirement to be a music student to be in one of CMU’s many ensembles, the strengths of the music program that I mentioned, such as the holistic education and community, really shine through at the make-your-own Christmas concert. So get in the holiday spirit, and come to Christmas at CMU on Saturday, November 25th with concerts at 2:00 and 7:00!

Emma Heinrichs is a 3rd year Music student at CMU.

From South Carolina to the South Side of Grant

Andi Jacobs - from South Carolina to the South Side of Grant

Throughout high school I knew I wanted to do something different for college. I didn’t want to attend the same four universities that nearly everyone from my high school chose. So when my family was visiting friends in Toronto, and I learned about International Development, a degree that is not widely offered in the States, I felt the opportunity to take a different path. It sounded like it would be just the right fit for me.

After a quick search on Google, I learned about Canadian Mennonite University. Not only did CMU offer a degree that was different, but it also offered small class sizes and a real relationship with my professors, which was definitely something I wouldn’t have if I attend the larger state schools in South Carolina.

CMU also offered a schooling option that was affordable. It’s no secret that American schools are crazy expensive, especially if you are considering attending university in a different state or a private institution. So even though I’m an international student, CMU is just as affordable as staying in my home state of South Carolina. Not only am I going to a great school, but I will also graduate with relatively no debt (thanks mom & dad).

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous going to university so far from home, as this would be my first time living on my own. Not only was the school far away, but it was also in a different country, which was nerve-racking, yet also exciting at the same time. The unknown is what frightened me, yet the possibility for new friends and a new city to explore far outweighed the risks. Thankfully, the community I found once I arrived at CMU was more welcoming and supportive than I could’ve ever imagined. True to their stereotype, Canadians are a friendly bunch.

Another important factor in my choosing a university was whether I would have the opportunity to play competitive volleyball. I had never considered looking at schools in Canada, but I’m so thankful I did. Last January I visited Winnipeg (my parents wanted to make sure I had a chance to experience Manitoba in winter), toured the campus, and practiced with the volleyball team. My visit sealed the deal. CMU was a perfect fit.

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The support on campus for academics and spiritual growth is something I have already learned to treasure. There are both chapels and fellowship groups during the week, and the leaders guide us through different worship styles whether that is contemporary, traditional, or something different altogether. While this Christian community is a big part of CMU, you can be as involved or uninvolved as you want. Regardless of your beliefs, you will be accepted for who you are as an individual.

Not only are the people welcoming, but CMU’s location is a welcoming place too. It is a smaller, more traditional campus with wonderful scenery, yet it’s only a few short minutes from being in downtown Winnipeg. If I need some fresh air after studying, there are miles of walking trails in the Assiniboine Forest, right behind campus. It is really the best of both worlds.

I am so happy with my decision to come to CMU. It truly has something to offer everyone.

Andi Jacobs is a first year student from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Facilitating peace education in Virginia

Laura Carr-Pries at Brethren Woods camp in Keezeltown, Virginia.

As a student, I always try and find ways to connect what I’m learning in class to “the real world.” So, when I received a job description for the position of Peace and Justice Director at Brethren Woods camp in Keezletown, Virginia, I realized that this was not a job I could turn down.

While I knew that I wanted to explore peace education, I was afraid that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, going to an area of a country that I know carries a wide range of perspectives on peace and justice.

Despite my hesitation, I decided to go for it. I had the opportunity to create a peace education curriculum, where I taught conflict resolution skills, and explored what the Bible says about peace.

We read stories, played co-operative games, and asked questions about why we act with violence. We made peace quilts and brainstormed how we can become peacebuilders in our own communities.

I quickly realized that I would not be able to do what I did without all of my CMU experience.

The hands-on learning that I experienced in my classes taught me how to engage different learning styles and the content of classes gave me ideas for different topics I could teach.

Over the course of the summer, I worked with campers to create a Peace Path. Each camper had a stone which they painted with one step they could take to make the world more peaceful, their stepping stone for peace.

Laura Carr-Pries at Brethren Woods camp in Keezeltown, Virginia.

Their answers ranged from smiles and friendship, to tolerance and generosity. After the stones were painted, each camper laid their stone on the path with a recognition that peace is not the responsibility of one person, but is dependant on many people working together. 

These stones now line a path, where there is a prayer for peace in the world and in our communities.

In light of recent events in Charlottesville, which is an hour away from the camp I worked at, I am hopeful that our world is not stuck in pain and violence.

Throughout the summer, campers asked me about the situation in Charlottesville, and questioned why people respond to hate with more hate. These young voices shared their hope that people with differences would have conversations and recognize their common humanity.

I feel honoured to have walked with these children as they have learned a language of peace and I am hopeful that they will become agents of positive change in their communities.

This fall, Laura Carr-Pries enters her fourth year of a PACTS and Theology major at CMU.

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