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CMU welcomes inaugural Scientist in Residence to campus

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Research scientist Dr. Henry Janzen interested in fostering hope at events


Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to announce it will host Dr. Henry Janzen as its first-ever scientist-in-residence.

Janzen, a research scientist in soil biochemistry at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Lethbridge, Alta., will be on campus Feb. 2–6, 2015, to share his insights, observations, experience and personal reflections in a number of speaking events open to the public.

CMU is looking forward to hosting Janzen, says Dr. Tim Rogalsky, chair of the Science and Faith Advisory Committee, responsible for organizing Janzen’s visit.

“He is a respected scholar in soil science, he’s a deep thinker, he’s a Christian, he’s a great storyteller, and he’s concerned about the state of the world,” says Rogalsky, associate professor of mathematics at CMU. “It’s going to be great to have him here for the week.”

Janzen’s confirmed speaking engagements are as follows:

  • A student forum titled, “Footprints on a Greening Planet,” on Monday, Feb. 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the CMU Chapel. This event will look at how humans can live more gently and creatively on the land of their grandchildren, and how people of faith can foster hope in the face of many troubles on a rapidly-transforming planet.
  • A chapel on Tuesday, Feb. 3 in which Janzen will share his faith story, titled, “How Can I Know the Way?” In this presentation, he will focus on the anguished exhilaration of seeking clarity from the muddiness of admitted ignorance, both in science and in matters of the spirit. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. in the CMU Chapel.
  • A public lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. in Marpeck Commons. In the lecture, titled “Following Carbon Flows Through Life and Times,” Janzen will provide an overview of the carbon cycle and the way its flows connect all species in a planet-wide continuum. He will then explore some questions that emerge: questions relevant to all of us, enfolding interwoven strands of science, of ethics, and ultimately, of hope.

Janzen says he is looking forward to interacting in an academic community that is also a community of faith.

“What’s important to me is not only what I might bring to CMU,” Janzen says. “I suspect the one who learns the most may be me.”

He adds that there is typically a lot of doom and pessimism involved when ecological challenges such as climate change, food security, and biodiversity conservation, are discussed. He will be looking for ways, during this visit, to jointly foster hope.

“This is one of the reasons I’m interested in looking at these questions in the community of CMU,” Janzen says. “I suspect there may be answers lurking there that will help us together forge a way forward that is ultimately hopeful.

The challenges that have been identified by science will not be resolved by science and technology alone, he adds.

“The way forward, I think, will be guided also by the artists – musicians, poets, essayists, and writers,” Janzen says. “It’s not to leave these problems to the technologists. We may also want to change the way we live, and maybe artists can help direct us there.”

A scientist for the past 30 years, Janzen studies how farming and other human practices affect prairie ecosystems, with emphasis on the carbon and nitrogen flows within them.

In recent years, his interests have expanded to also explore other socio-ecological issues, such as growing more food, preserving biodiversity, conserving soils, using energy wisely, seeking beauty, and fostering social harmony.

Janzen and his wife Sandra live on a small farm near Lethbridge. They have three adult children and attend Coaldale Mennonite Church.

For more information, visit www.cmu.ca/sir.

—Canadian Mennonite University release

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