New Administrative & Communications Coordinator, Dr. Brenda Goranson, knows how to dig into things. With a scholarly background in archeology and history, she has been trained to unearth and research clues to our cultural past. But since coming on board in mid-March she has already dug deep into our files to come up to speed on the people and policies that move our cross-cultural academic mission forward.
Our hiring team for the new Administrative and Communications Coordinator consisted of Dr. Mary Leigh Morby, Anna Sklar, Harley Dekker and myself, Peter Schuurman. We had 13 applicants, 4 interviews, and one final enthusiastic candidate, Dr. Goranson.
Brenda’s life combines two significant parts of the job: a passion for the academy and experience in administration. With a BA, BEd, MA and PhD she certainly has lots of experience in the academy. She knows what its like to research, write and present papers, TA and persevere through a 10-year PhD process (while raising 3 kids, now aged 12-22). But she also knows administration and communications with a wide variety of people: she has been a Church Administrator for 10 years in Oakville, Ontario. This is to say she has been the organizational hub for a large faith community, which she continues to serve part-time while joining our GSC office and its fellowship of scholars.
Brenda grew up in a loving, Christian home where her parents raised her to engage the world in faith-filled ways; education was paramount in her home. Both her parents were teachers with Canadian university degrees who encouraged their kids to excel in academics and sports, as well as to grow socially and spiritually; to be supports to the community.
Brenda describes herself as an archaeologist turned historian, with experience in both fields. About her research interests and work in both disciplines, she writes:
Once referred to as distant cousins with a common disdain, I have found both material culture and primary documentation to be endless sources of personal fascination; feeding an obsession with things past that has accompanied me from a very young age. My interests and experience span a large framework from prehistoric lithic reduction sites to late modern emigrant letters. Most recently I have specialized in Canadian History, with a focus on the single largest emigrant population to North America throughout the nineteenth century, the Irish – and Irish Protestants in particular. Previous work surrounded the transfer of transatlantic identities to Canada and the essentiality of Indigenous contributions in the War of 1812; all consistently intentional analyses of that space between, the middling ground, where differing cultures meet, connect and sometimes abrade.
Brenda has experience studying cross-cultural religious interaction, combined with a keen awareness of the challenges that immigrant groups face. Add to this scholarly work the fact that the church she has worked in for a decade has been a crossroads for dozens of different ethnic groups. In sum, she brings a learned perspective to our transnational mission and vision.
There is much more to say about Brenda, but one thing has been clear has been her eagerness to join us in our global academic mission. She says:
I am most excited to be joining Global Scholars Canada as a teammate looking to come alongside/assist in any and all manner of mutual communication, connection and growth. I am very familiar with the challenges and enjoyments of scholarly work and life and feel in some way, that a return to the academy – to this, very special guild of Christian scholars – is a natural progression, an answer to prayer and a most welcome, coming home.
Brenda is very much looking forward to meeting everyone – virtually or in person – and to contributing to the growth, reach and shalom of GSC in the years to come. She says, “I learned early that Christ-life is about giving unto others. Pray with praise that through that blessing, I seek and trust in Him as I look within the new community, where I too, may serve.”
For those who know Anna Sklar, you know she is irreplaceable. She has left an indelible mark on our community as its first Administrator and Communications Coordinator. She is moving on to new opportunities while keeping watch on us from farther away. Brenda will no doubt build on Anna’s visionary work, and we look forward to the ways in which Brenda will offer her own creative touch to how we organize and communicate our mission. Her combination of academic and administrative experience, framed by her research interests in archeology, history, immigrant cultures, and indigenous people, will no doubt add to the richness of our cross-cultural work.
We want to cultivate a missional imagination for academic vocation among Christian scholars in Canada. Brenda is poised to be a well-informed and resourceful support in that evolving project. Welcome Brenda!