For Dr. Evelyn Mayanja, an instructor for the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Winnipeg, teaching is about forming a meaningful connection with students.
“When I teach them, I want them to become better people,” she says. “So we try to build a global network that could create change in society from our homes, society, community, everything.”
Mayanja’s area of study focuses on the exploitation of resources, “especially today, where resource exploitation many times is neglected, especially in relation to how it is contributing to climate change.
“So then I’m looking at how, for example, corporations could become more ethical.”
While looking at the ethics of resource exploitation, Mayanja focuses on the human aspect of the issue while considering what can be done to make change.
“I’m very passionate about peacebuilding and social justice because (of) what is going on almost all over the world,” she says.
“We have a crisis of social justice, a crisis of peace. But many times we don’t address that. We are busy running after money, power, control, etc., and at the end of the day, all those things don’t count. What counts is the human person.”
With this focus on humanity, Mayanja says society must change so that “every person is valued for who they are.”
“We are being conditioned to become somebody else. A society where human rights, human dignity, the essence of each and every person regardless of sex, gender, colour of skin, etc. will be upheld, because at the end of the day, we are just human beings.”
Mayanja hopes she and her students can work together to form a network that can trigger this kind of change.
What would be a good first step toward creating change in terms of how we value human dignity?
“It is educating children from a very early age ... When children are born, they don’t know anything, they don't know that we are different, they don’t know anything about racism, they don’t know about corruption.”
What is something you’ve learned from your students?
“A lot. For one, they are good people. Only, sometimes, they lack guidance. I look at every student as a gem ... that we as instructors (are) really privileged to work with.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I do a lot of exercising, but also reading. I read a lot.”
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
“To create a respect for human dignity.”
Published in Volume 74, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 13, 2020)