The Christian Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition on which EMU was founded in 1917 has grown to be respected worldwide for bringing people together to solve conflicts with words, rather than weapons. It’s not easy, but it’s core to who we are. Peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and restorative justice are guiding principles inside the classroom, in student life and across the campus community.
EMU alumna Leymah Gbowee, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, is known for her work in organizing a peace movement to end the Second Liberian Civil War. EMU professor Howard Zehr, who co-directs EMU’s Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, is widely known as “the grandfather of restorative justice.” EMU is on the cutting edge of restorative justice in education, now offers an MA in restorative justice, and a five-year accelerated undergraduate peacebuilding and development major to MA in conflict transformation or MA in restorative justice.
Global Community and Cross-cultural Engagement
We live in an increasingly connected world. Here, we ask ourselves how our choices affect others across the globe.
Our cross-cultural program – more than 30 years old – provides opportunities for groups of students to engage with issues of global significance in a group accompanied by faculty members with personal connections and experience in the region.
Cross-cultural study is a requirement for EMU students. Some participate in three-week programs in the local community or greater North America. Some spend a semester in urban Washington, D.C., benefiting from internships at places such as the Smithsonian Institute and faith and Politics. More than half of undergraduates spend a semester in places such as New Zealand, the Middle East, Central and East Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, southern Africa and more.
When you’ve lived with Palestinian Christian families in the West Bank, and then spent time in a Jewish home on a kibbutz, you develop critical thinking skills that shape understandings of world news and our complex world. Spending time with coffee bean farmers in Central America brings new understanding to “fair trade” concepts and doing business for the common good.
Sustainability and Stewardship
EMU was practicing sustainability long before “green” became trendy. Our energy efficient buildings are some of the best performing college facilities in the country. Our solar array on the Hartzler Library roof was the largest solar installation in the state of Virginia when it was installed in 2010. Our campus gardens provide produce for the dining hall; compostable waste from the dining hall feeds the garden. Sustainability is woven into the curriculum on many levels.
Beyond that, sustainability is considered in broad strokes, raising awareness about how lifestyle and vocational choices serve the common good. Students learn to consider how to build sustainable communities, organizations, businesses and more through learning about our inter-connected world and how individual choices affect the whole.
Opportunities for faith formation are woven into the curriculum and student life. We’re all journeying together – though we may take different paths – toward deepening our faith, learning how we might live out our faith and values in vocation and lifestyle choices as students pursue academic and professional goals.
About a third of the undergraduate student body is Mennonite. Dozens of denominations and faith traditions, and more than 30 nationalities, are part of the EMU community.
Community-wide chapel gatherings for worship and challenging input are offered two times per week; Eastern Mennonite Seminary gathers weekly and is open to all. Sunday evening student-led worship Celebration service has been taking place for more than 30 years. Hymn sings, residence hall Bible studies, Common Grounds Coffeehouse special events, Campus Ministries prayer partners and small support groups… these are some of of the ways undergraduate students grow in their faith during their EMU experience.
Service to Others
EMU prepares graduates to serve and lead in a global context. Some graduates pursue that call through voluntary service. Others use their gifts of administration and business expertise to lead organizations — for profit and not-for-profit — with solid ethics and the common good at heart. EMU students have opportunities to participate in spring break service trips, local community volunteer opportunities and on-campus activities to serve others. Many alumni do voluntary service for a year or more after graduation; many work in service professions such as ministry through churches, social services, health care professions and more.
EMU is a Christian university, rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. About a third of undergraduate students come from a Mennonite or Anabaptist background; a much smaller percentage of graduate students have connections to Mennonite congregations.