Category: 2016-17 (Page 3 of 9)

The deep dish pizza of degrees: Interdisciplinary Studies

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We live in a complex world. In order to understand interconnected issues, we require diverse ways of thinking.

Imagine the world’s issues as a deep dish pizza with extra toppings. The toppings are so mixed together that they cannot be separated from the sauce and cheese. Mixed together, they create one complex yet delicious blend.

Traditionally, programs in universities have divided disciplines and programs into separate categories which look at issues through a particular perspective. This tends to mean that instead of taking a bite of the entire pizza, we are tasting single ingredients at a time.

Despite what we may learn by tasting each discipline separately, we can miss the complex and delicious taste from the mix of the ingredients which make up the entire pizza.

CMU has found a way to recognize the richness that occurs when two or more programs are integrated. The Interdisciplinary Studies major allows students to develop and propose their own program of study, oriented around particular themes of their choosing.

The student who chooses this major organizes CMU’s curricular offerings in ways which create a comprehensive understanding of important issues that are by nature complex.

Mattea Nickel is a third year student doing an Interdisciplinary degree on Creation Care. Although International Development Studies encapsulated some of the issues she was passionate about, Mattea felt that her interests were limited by the curriculum requirements for that degree.

“I also considered Biblical and Theological Studies as a major but was mainly interested in taking practical theology classes,” she says.

Although her interests did not fit a specific program, Mattea realized that the classes she enjoyed taking had similar undertones: simplicity, alternative economics, ecological preservation, and policy.

“I had a passion for learning how to live an alternative lifestyle as an expression of faith that was supported through academics.”

She found the lives of professors such as Dan Epp-Tiessen, Kenton Lobe, and James Magnus-Johnston influential and enjoyed having the liberty to explore the connections between their disciplines further. Creation Care, a theme which has stemmed from her interest in learning to think and live differently.

Mattea enjoys doing an interdisciplinary degree because it “is an incredible way of learning about a single idea or concept from multiple perspectives by creating a platform to ask questions and dig deep.”

Mattea says that there is a freedom in the Interdisciplinary option because it allows students to commit to ideas and themes which are structured around their interests.

If you have further questions about the Interdisciplinary degree, our advisor Vern Kehler would be happy to chat with you.

Standing in solidarity


Did you know that:

  • the fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter after the oil industry?
  • one in six people work in the global fashion industry, the majority being women earning less than $3 per day?
  • 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have died by suicide in the last 15 years, partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds?
  • only 10% of the clothing donated to charity gets sold, while much of it ends up in landfills or flooding markets in poorer countries, where it can kill the local industry (a portion also gets recycled)?

These facts were completely foreign to me before watching a documentary screened by CMU’s Peace and Sustainability Committee. Every year, it holds a week of solidarity in order to bring students’ attention to current issues, either global or local. The topic for discussion this year was, “Getting Naked: The Global Clothing Industry Revealed.”

Rebecca Penner, a leader on the Committee, says, “We chose our topic because it is 734894_992318067510278_2784905156552240111_nsomething that impacts everybody; we are all connected in some way to the global clothing industry. As a result, it is important to be informed. Since this is an issue that is already in the backs of many peoples’ minds, we tried to strike a balance between information and practical next steps.”

The week began with a forum where three presenters spoke about how the clothing industry affects us globally and personally. They discussed globalization and its affect on fair pay, how clothing can be an expression of self while still be ethically worn, and how even when we buy something at thrift store, we can still have a consumer mind.

A screening of the “True Cost” documentary was next. The film asks us to consider who really pays the price for our clothing.

Finally, there was a mending workshop and an ethical clothing market.

Many students have taken on the Committee’s challenge to wear one piece of clothing every day during the week, as a reminder of the difference between human need and want. I have been challenged in my own thinking about how I can wear my clothing ethically, staying critically aware of my choices and their affect on people internationally.

Here’s what students said about the clothing challenge:

“I think my favourite part of the week was the clothing challenge. It was the initiative which had the most widespread engagement, and I loved seeing so many people come together to participate. As a participant, I found it to be a daily reminder of how few clothes I actually need. It was also a cool way to engage people in conversations surrounding the wider theme of clothing justice.”– Rebecca Penner

“I have worn this shirt twenty times in the past two weeks.”– Rachel Robertson

“After doing the challenge, I realized that despite wanting to wear a different outfit for each occasion, I only needed one shirt in which I would feel comfortable. It really taught me to understand the difference between utility and want.” – Cesar Flores


Leadership Scholarship

Liam Kachkar (in the blue shirt) with Outtatown in Burkina Faso last semester

Liam Kachkar (in the blue shirt) with Outtatown in Burkina Faso last semester

Applying for scholarships is tedious work. It can feel like submitting a lottery ticket: what are the chances of actually winning? Students can feel discouraged because the chances of being chosen seem slim. As scholarship “investors,” the return on our investment feels low. But is it really?

I began applying for scholarships in grade ten, but I tended to apply at the last minute and was not very invested in the work. I was happily surprised to earn $250 for a paper, but I focused more on the disappointment of my other applications not being successful.

My attitude toward scholarships began to change in grade 12. I was eligible for way more scholarships than all of the former years combined, so I took the work of applying more seriously. I talked to teachers for help, looked for scholarships on my own, and applied before the night it was due… usually!

I applied for one of CMU’s scholarships in early 2016. I was planning to do Outtatown and then CMU, so I decided to apply for both Leadership Scholarships. My mentality for applying was that of a lottery ticket gambler: I’ll put in this ticket (the essay and references) and if the stars align, I’ll get it. To my surprise, I became the recipient of both the CMU Leadership Scholarship and the Outtatown Leadership Scholarship!

Winning this scholarship has changed my view of scholarships in general. Apply for the scholarship, even if it seems unlikely that you’ll get it. Every one of you has a unique story and view of the topic proposed by a certain scholarship; even if your idea is similar to another applicant, who’s to say your essay won’t be better? I once heard the story of a guy who applied for a women-only scholarship, and because he was the only person that applied, he got it!

Whenever I doubt my chances of receiving a scholarship, I think back on that story. What if I am the only person who applies? The donors who offer scholarships want students to apply. My advice is go and apply, even if it feels like you’re applying for the lottery. You never know; your writing might be exactly what the donor is looking for!

Check out a full list of incoming student scholarships you can apply for here. And don’t forget: the deadline is February 28!

Guest blogger Liam Kachkar is a first year Business student.



I am a second year music student, majoring in voice, with hopes of pursuing a degree in Music Therapy. I discovered CMU because of its Music Therapy degree program.However, my choice was solidified because of the athletic opportunities available. In addition to studying music, I have had the privilege of playing on the CMU women’s volleyball team for two seasons.

The combination of sport and music has made my experience at CMU unforgettable. This unique opportunity has allowed me to enjoy two passions that rarely coincide outside of high school, and has equipped me with diverse friendships that range the gap between teammates and music peers. Though my agenda can be wild trying to juggle two demanding schedules, I do not consider it a chore trying to fit everything in. I value time spent pursuing my passions and often consider the work put in as a “study break”.

Living on campus has been a significant factor in helping me coordinate my time and social life with classes and homework. “Convenience” and “community” are two words I would use to describe the residence at CMU—both of which have made life easier as a “music student athlete.” With time spent running to and from classes, practice rooms, and the gym, how does one fit in time for homework and friends?Living on campus has allowed me to combine social time with study dates, and reminded me to make time for actual breaks with friends in a community that has been at my fingertips.

Ultimately, I hope to use the skills I have learned—and am continuing to learn—in the classrooms, practice rooms, and on the volleyball court to pursue a career in Music Therapy. I have grown to love music and am excited to use this gift as a tool for the maintenance of health and for healing. I look forward to using music in a way that brings joy to others the same way music and volleyball do for me.

Read more about CMU’s Athletics program here.
Update: Lacey’s team has taken home the MCAC volleyball championship!

Guest blogger Lacey Siemens is a second year music student

Taking some stress off the money conversation


Money. It’s one of those topics I like to avoid as much as possible, but I tend to stress out about the most. Tuition, rent, textbooks, food; it adds up so quickly!

Here’s the good news: there are ways to get money in order to pay for university! Financial aid has been key to helping me pay for university, and every bit of money helps to make university a little more affordable. Here’s a quick run down of the differences between some of these kinds of financial aid.

1) Scholarships:

CMU scholarships are awarded to students based on achievements and grades. For example, there are entrance scholarships awarded based on your average from high school, and if you keep high grades through university, you also receive “Academic Excellence Scholarships.” Some scholarships are for achievements other than academics, such as leadership.

I received the leadership scholarship at CMU, which is given to students who are involved in leadership in their communities. Receiving this scholarship was one of the things that helped my decision to study here. I felt that by supporting me financially, there were people who believed in my abilities and thought that I could make a positive contribution to the community here.

2) Bursaries:

Bursaries are given based on financial need. They may or may not have other academic requirements, but are primarily based on your financial situation. These can be given from CMU or from an external organization.

3) Grants

One grant that I’ve received is the Church Matching Grant. My church has generously given me financial support, and in response to this generosity, CMU matches the money they have given, up to $500 a year.

4) Student Loans

Student loans come from the government. The best part is, unlike a regular loan, they are interest-free while you are in school. Additionally, you only have to start repaying them 6 months after you finish school.

5) On- Campus Jobs

CMU has a lot of on campus jobs that students can apply for in September, which is a great way to make some money while in school. This means working up to hours a week on campus, doing dishes, vacuuming, live-streaming, or working with the Enrolment Department.

Although money can feel overwhelming, there are ways to make it more manageable. There are many different scholarships, grants, and bursaries offered through CMU, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. Some of the best advice that I ever heard is, even if you don’t think you are eligible for a scholarship, just apply! There are people that want to give money 🙂


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