Henry JanzenIn February, CMU had the privilege of hosting Dr. Henry Janzen, a research scientist in soil biochemistry at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. His studies focus on how different farming techniques impact prairie ecosystems. His extensive research in nitrogen and carbon flows allows him to work on and participate in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Recently Dr. Janzen has expanded his field of study to include socio-ecological issues, which include finding ways to create sustainable farming methods which encourage biodiversity, allow the conversation of soils, the wise use of energy, and creating a harmonious community.

Dr. Janzen shared in multiple events during his week in residence. In chapel, the CMU community had the privilege to learn how his faith has come along with his scientific work. He shared his story and explained how we all have stories to tell, that those stories define who we are and through those stories, God makes Himself known. He shared that God often speaks through our lives in whispers and in the most common of ways. I also had the opportunity to listen to him speak at a public lecture at Marpeck Commons titled, “Following Carbon Flows Through Life and Times.” During this event Dr. Janzen and other scientists had a conversation with three farmers that differ in their farming methods, from organic to industrialized. These farmers asked the scientists questions about sustainability and whether science could provide methods that are sustainable and appropriate farming techniques. During that dialogue, the notion of time was mentioned multiple times, Dr. Janzen said that only time could tell whether a method could prove to be sustainable. He also said that science through time has shown that it does not always have the correct answer.

About the same time in my International Development Studies class taught by Kenton Lobe, we wrestled with tough questions about science and farming. And whether scientific discoveries always meant progress and sustainability or traps that would cause greater impacts to our ecosystem. We discussed how technology often sought to find the quickest, cheapest solutions to problems and how those solutions would only last for short periods of time, creating larger problems in the long run.

Having Dr. Janzen was a great experience for the CMU community. It was inspiring to see someone so passionate about their work being able to mix their faith and work so harmoniously in an era where science and faith don’t often work together.

Cesar Flores is one of CMU’s Student Ambassadors

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