Category Archives: Resources

Why be a member of CACSD?

Why Membership?

Often in the world of Higher Education, budgets are tight and professional development money is easily cut in favour of student programming. In the Canadian Association of Christians in Student Development (CACSD), we understand the importance of growing personally and professionally in order to better yourself and your work. We strive to provide affordable access to the following opportunities and services to help you do just that!


The CACSD, at its core, is an avenue for relationship between like minded people who have a passion for both university-aged students and Jesus Christ. Members are invited into a community – making it easier to pick up the phone and inquire, gain resources, and be encouraged. This is carried out day-to-day through a Facebook group, as well as our Google Listserv. Annually, there are also opportunities for in-person connection both regionally and nationally.


CACSD has member institutions across all of Canada, opening up the opportunity for diverse resource and experience sharing. This is carried out through conversations and connections made in our Listserv. This tool allows you to email all members to ask for opinions, glean wisdom, explore ideas, and more.

Our Annual, National Conference features many relevant speakers and workshops which will connect members to an awareness of trends, understanding of best practice, and the latest developments in the world of Student Development!


Our association offers uniquely Canadian perspectives in a space filled with American thought and research. Our members are better able to connect with one another and provide insights because of their shared understanding and experience. Our national scale allows you access to colleagues outside of your provincial sphere.  

Christians working in both the public sphere and Christian institutions will benefit from the Christ-centered approach we take to Student Development work. This provides space to consider how Christ influences the work that we do in our co-curricular planning.


As a member, you will have the opportunity to join us at our Annual, National Conference. Along with this you are given access to an application for the John Krueger Travel Bursary and the privilege to vote at our Annual General Meeting.

Members are encouraged to consider roles on our Executive Committee, publish articles that are posted on our website (with the chance to win awards!), and plan regional meetings that will be partially funded by the CACSD. Job opportunities can also be shared and viewed through our Listserv and Website. Each of these open up an opportunity for you to impact colleagues across our country.

It is the CACSD’s purpose to glorify God by providing resources for fellowship, professional development, encouragement, and leadership, resulting in greater effectiveness for ministering to students in Canada. We cannot do this without you!
If you have questions regarding membership or would like to complete a membership application form, or contact Kathleen Doll, our membership coordinator at


Manitoba Regional Meeting 2017

031317-01On November 16th, 2017, Steinbach Bible College hosted the 2017-2018 Manitoba CACSD Regional Conference. Eighteen Student Development professionals from Steinbach Bible College, Canadian Mennonite University, Booth University, and Providence University College gathered together to share a day of reconnection and discussion.

After catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, we began our day with a time of worship led by Danielle Morton (CMU) complete with call and response, contemplation, song, and scripture. Following our time of worship, Debi van Duin (Providence) delivered an insightful session on the “Psychology of Communities”. Debi explained how Christian communities are meant to work using a passage of scripture from Ephesians 4 and then presented points on the secular view of successful communities – all the while highlighting both similarities and differences between the two community types.

After a delicious lunch catered by Steinbach’s Main Bread and Butter, we received a tour of the Steinbach Bible College campus from SBC president, Rob Reimer and then finished the day with round-table discussions led by Jessy Fehr (SBC). At this year’s round-table, we discussed collaborations for the next CACSD General Conference being held at Booth University, how to approach including students across the gender spectrum in residence, and what processes each school is developing for sexual violence/consent education and investigations.

It is always an informative and fruitful experience to get together with our colleagues from other local institutions and we look forward to meeting with the rest of you at the next General Conference in May 2018.

– Sarah Lageer

2017 CACSD conference bibliography

Here are many of the resources we (Keith and Kristie) mentioned during our time together:

Benne, Robert, 2001, Quality with Soul. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Benne’s text investigates five different Christian institutions to consider what makes them schools that exhibit “Quality with Soul.” Keith referenced this book in the third talk when considering Vision, Ethos, and People as the markers for excellent institutions.

Brueggemann, Walter, 2001, The Prophetic Imagination. Fortress Press.

In this book, Brueggeman studies the role of the Old Testament prophets and the ministry of Jesus and their role in the life of the people of God who have become numb under the power/knowledge regimes of what he terms “The Royal Consciousness.”

Dr. Brueggeman writes this primarily for people in church ministry, but I think it is apt for any of us working in higher education. Keith referenced this in his final talk as he considered the role of having a Gospel perspective that allows us to imagine “future alternative realities.”

Guthrie, David S., 1997, Student Affairs Reconsidered. University Press of Amer.

The homework I gave on student learning comes from this text edited by David S. Guthrie. Celebrating its 20th year in publication, Guthrie’s book remains one of the best works that attempts to understand various roles in student development from a Christian perspective. Keith had this at the ready to talk about regarding our foundational commitments in Christian student development (but didn’t quite get to it).

Inazu, John D., 2016, Confident Pluralism. University of Chicago Press.

Inazu explores the question concerning our ability (and responsibility) to remain steadfast in our commitments, while also being open to voices different than our own. Kristie referenced this as a possible resource for understanding conversations regarding diversity and inclusions at our universities. (A short video of Inazu from Q Ideas here:

Kelly, Kevin, 2017, The Inevitable. Penguin.

OK, he doesn’t talk about aliens and the church in this one… but this text was central in Keith’s considerations of how to be thinking about the future. Kevin Kelly’s focuses on future trends in technology, so don’t expect it to be higher education focused.

(Read his short piece on Nerd Theology here:

Postman, Neil, 1996, The End of Education. Vintage Books.

Keith referenced this in his third talk on foundations. Postman challenges the dominant narratives about education and offers a new set of stories that could function to reorient learning. In the higher education program, Keith pairs this with Wolterstorff’s Educating for Shalom (see below).

Selingo, Jeffrey J., 2015, College (un)Bound. Amazon Pub.

Selingo’s 2015 work has become ironically dated (largely due to his fascination with Massive Open Online Courses). Nevertheless, Selingo’s consideration of the unbundling of higher education in America is particularly apt for us and suggests that higher learning will soon look anything but traditional. Keith referenced this alongside the Herman Miller research in his third talk.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas et al, 2004, Educating for Shalom. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

This is a collection of essays and addresses by philosopher and educator Nicholas Wolterstorff. It is a poignant work on the purpose of Christian higher education and, ultimately, is working to answer, “What is Christian higher education for?” If there were one book I (Keith) would offer as a starting point to consider the integration of faith and learning, it would be this one. Some of the essays are relatively dense and academic and many others are really quite accessible.

Yancey, George A., 2010, Neither Jew Nor Gentile. Oxford University Press.

Dr. Yancey’s research on Protestant higher education in the US is amongst the best research in the field on the problems of race in HED and possible ways forward. Keith and Kristie referenced this in the second talk on diversity and inclusion.

Geneva’s Christian View of Diversity document:


Referenced by Others:

Crouch, Andy, 2013, Culture Making. InterVarsity Press.

Crouch’s book was referenced in Micah’s presentation on pop music and (perhaps) a few other places throughout the week.

DePree, Max, 2004, Leadership is an Art. Crown Business.

Depree was mentioned by Wally and Terry during Wally’s opening address, and he is also the son of the founder of Herman Miller furniture company.

Smith, James K. A., 2009, Desiring the Kingdom. Baker Academic.

Smith, James K. A., 2016, You Are What You Love. Brazos Press.

Smith has been an influential voice in the work of Christian higher education. The first of these titles is an important consideration/loving critique of the “worldview studies” that many of our institutions are doing. He offers a call to reconsider a Christian anthropology that defines us and our students as something more than “brains on sticks.” I’ve found him particularly helpful in thinking about how we educate in the classroom, on the athletic fields (pitches), in the residence halls, and beyond. The second of the two is a more popularized version of his ideas.

Vance, J. D., 2016, Hillbilly Elegy. Harper.

A top selling book in the US and what many believe is an explanation of the Trump Phenomenon. Terry mentioned this in his talk on Day 2. You can also take Vance out for a run as he does a long interview on the Ezra Kline show. Warning, there may be some salty language in the interview. (

The Partner: A Survey of Student Service-Learning Trips at Redeemer University College

By Micah van Dijk

In October 2015, the Student Life department at Redeemer University College organized a weekend service-learning Trip to the city of Toronto. I worked closely alongside a graduate-student intern who was working at Redeemer at the time in the area of service-learning and had the capacity to organize and promote the trip. The dates of the trip were chosen to be during a small Reading Break that students had, following in the footsteps of similar successful trips in previous years. We decided that the minimum number of students needed for the trip was five students, meaning that we needed a commitment from 0.5% of the 700 strong student body.

As the date of the trip approached, we noticed that the initial interest in the trip was not translating into confirmed attendees. About 48 hours before the trip, we canceled the trip because, despite increased promotional efforts, no one had signed up. After dealing with the initial disappointment of having a trip fail in such dramatic fashion, we saw the opportunity for further research. The ENTIRE student body decided that this trip was not for them, and we wanted to know why.     

Using an incentive of a free chocolate bar to the first 150 respondents, we had 296 students take an online survey, giving us a response rate of about 43%. All four year levels were well represented and the male/female ratio matched closely the student ratio at the time. Below are a few of our major findings and conclusions.       

Major Findings:

1. Low attendance was not due to lack of awareness

Over 60% of the students surveyed had heard about the trip so our low conversion rate did not have to do with lack of awareness. Interestingly, 44% heard about it via email, and 30% via the poster with only 9% hearing about it through facebook and 5% by personal invitation. I think there has been an increased focus on social media as an effective advertising tool yet most students indicated more traditional methods of email and posters being their point of contact with this event.   

2. A portion of the student population is too stressed to make a decision about future commitments.

When asked why they did not attend the trip, almost 20% of the student body indicated that they were too busy with other commitments to make a decision. I am curious if this percentage will increase as students continue to struggle with time management and fear of commitment. As a positive, there was a significant portion of the student body (65%) who could identify existing commitments as the reason why they did not sign up. 

3. Volunteering during school breaks is not a high priority for Redeemer students.

When asked about their priorities during their Reading Breaks, Redeemer students consistently answered that their first priority was to completing university assignments. Other priorities with significant percentages included resting from studies and commitments (30%) and going home to see friends and family (20%). Nobody (0%) saw volunteering as a priority during the Fall reading break and only 2.5% indicated that they saw volunteering as a priority for the upcoming Spring Reading Break. This lack of interest in volunteering is a significant shift from fifteen years ago when Redeemer could run multiple service-learning trips on Reading Break involving over fifty students including sending a busload of students to Mississippi, USA.  Volunteering during Reading Breaks does not appear to be a priority of the current Redeemer university student.


I’ve been able to sift through the results and reflect on what went wrong with our failed trip and I’ve come up with three conclusions.    Some are concrete, others require a longer-term broader plan as we equip students to be citizens capable of meaningful action.

1) Use existing groups of students when planning events.  – Our Toronto trip was staff driven (the intern and myself) though we did try and recruit some senior students, with the hope that they would buy into the vision and help promote the trip. They showed initial interest and excitement but those faded and they ended up dropping out before the trip could occur. Starting with an existing student group, even if it’s only 2 -3 of them, builds in an immediate group that will attend as well as a powerful advertising tool. In a subsequent survey, students indicated that their primary motivator to attend events was whether their friends were going.      

2) Find activities that require less commitment.
It’s not all bad news for volunteering at Redeemer. There is a lot of volunteering that occurs locally including a group of students that weekly go downtown Hamilton to give out Hot Chocolate and engage in conversation, as well as an annual service-learning project to Hamilton during Reading Break. Despite only 2.5% of students saying that they were even thinking of making volunteering a priority, 15 students did attend that trip that year. I think this trip was successful because it did not require as much commitment (time, money, intentionality) as an international trip and it was organized by a few students who could advertise in their friend groups. As commitment becomes harder for students, new event models and ideas are needed in order to keep students involved.    

3) Find ways to teach commitment among students
Having the ability to commit is an important learned skill that students need, even if they do not respond to initial attempts to have them commit. Catering to their reluctance of commitment will cause further atrophy and fear. Encouraging students to practice commitment in the smaller areas of life, will allow them to have the confidence to make larger commitments buying a house, committing to a partner, or serving long-term with their church.   

Unfortunately, the consequences of the lack of commitment are real.  Because we can’t get students to commit to going on international service-learning trips, Redeemer has canceled trips to Detroit (to learn about urban sociology), Montreal (to learn about French-Canadian culture), and Nashville (to learn about American pop culture) in the past two years. Students are missing out on rich learning opportunities to travel with classmates and interact with trip leaders and professors outside of the classroom.   

I’d be interested in how you are experiencing the commitment levels of your students? What strategies have you found to be effective in engaging students?  Please email me at

The Partner: The Ebb and Flow of Community

By Shannon Loewen, Residence Life Director at Tyndale University College & Seminary

Community is always the key phrase when talking about residence. Everyone wants a good community. It is what brings the residents back year after year. A year ago our community shifted. We expected it but did not know in what ways it would change. We saw a decline in participation, the halls were quiet and everyone was in their rooms. We had lost our “doors open” atmosphere, both literally and figuratively. With a simple statement from the fire department, our community changed. Residents were no longer allowed to have their dorm room doors propped opened. We had worked through all the logistics and policies with this change, but did not anticipate how it would affect our community.dorm_hall1

Walking through the hallways with shiny linoleum floors and closed doors made the space feel sterile and uninviting. You could not hear the life coming from the rooms, music intermingling with the laughter and slow hum of conversation throughout the dorms. What we discovered was an opportunity to change our cultural norm. The Residence team switched their views on their environment and began to treat their space more like an apartment building. Where so many people live their lives without knowing their neighbours, choosing only to connect with those they were familiar with.

We wanted to break the mold, transform the culture we found ourselves in. We had to think of ways to draw people out of their worlds and into a space that would excite them to be a part of a greater community. With this new focus the Residence team set out to transform their community.

We recognized that when someone is invested in something they are more likely to follow through, to participate and bring along friends. So we started with a block party. The Resident Assistants (RA’s) worked with their dorm to transform their hallway into a space with a unique theme that residents could come and mingle in; it was a huge hit. Returning residents said it was one of the best events they had been to. The success of the event also energized the residence team and helped spur the next team on to a positive cultural change.

One of the other aspects of our growing community is the increase in students who have more severe anxiety and mental health issues. The RA’s not only try to build a positive atmosphere but are the first to help residents through their dark moments. This led us to move to having two RA’s per dorm. Not only would this help spread the stressful times out, but it would also increase our residence team number. This means more energy, more creative ideas, and the manpower to pull off the grand ideas.

The environment that people live also plays a role in how they interact with others. In a sterile, cold space people tend to be cold and sterile. One of the RA’s had suggested carpeting the linoleum hallways. They had noticed that in the dorm wings that had carpet residents could be seen sitting in the hall together hanging out. The linoleum halls were too sterile and uncomfortable and did not provide a space that was inviting to residents.

A healthy, vibrant community requires intention, hard work, and perseverance. There is no perfect formula to creating the best community. Each year a new mix of people enter the dorms bringing their own personalities, problems, and energy. However, we have found some things to be true no matter who you are. People want to belong and they will invest when they feel have a stake in it.

The residence team meets weekly and part of that meeting is talking about the pulse of the community. We try to figure out what is going well and what we can do better and how to get the residents to participate. We continue to assess the residence and how we can continue to help foster a healthy, vibrant community among our residents.

PARTNER: Recommended Summer Reads

by Greg Veltman

I’ve read a few books over the last 6 months that I would highly recommend to Student Development professionals.  Here I provide a brief recommendation, including their length.


Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith – Sharon Daloz Parks (Long read)

This newly updated classic follows student development theory to lay out the how and why of higher education institutions ability to be a mentoring environment for students on their journey towards a robust faith.





Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious – David Dark (Medium read)

Dark lays out the case for the religiosity in all of life and suggests that we try to practice good religion rather than bad religion, through a poetic and reflective way of life, rather than the harsh logic we assume religion must be.




Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice – Barbara Salter McNeil (Short read)

As Christians, we cannot ignore racial injustice in our world, and we cannot live on the assumptions that reconciliation is easy. It is more a matter of changing our hearts than changing our minds. McNeil offers a model for persisting on the journey.




Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True FlourishingAndy Crouch (Short read)

Crouch proposes a model in which Christians find the balance between having authority and being vulnerable, rather than the either/or that offers a false view of success. Good leadership is authority and vulnerability.




You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit – James K.A. Smith (Medium read)

Smith applies his philosophy of embodied learning to spiritual formation and discipleship, with many higher education examples to help us rethink how we teach students to be Christian.