Faculty: In Their Own Words - Justin Neufeld
Justin Neufeld has been an Instructor of Philosophy at CMU since 2008.
What are you teaching right now that you're most excited about?
This winter I'm teaching Disability and Difference: Philosophical and Theological Perspectives. It's a class that I've really come to under the influence of students here at CMU. Years ago, a student wanted to do an independent study on disability, and I had more interest than expertise, but we were willing to kind of work on it together, and that gave me confidence a couple of years later to offer a course on the subject. This year will be the second time I'm teaching it.
When or how do your students inspire you?
I think I'm most impressed when young students are interested in finding their own voice on an issue—that's something I'm seeking for myself in my own writing right now, which may play some part in my answer. Of course, it's impressive when students can handle course material adeptly, make a great argument, but you can tell when someone is personally invested versus when they are just well, a virtuoso you might say, but they have no investment. I get personally inspired when students' papers demonstrate they're committed to finding their own voice—when they're in it, really in it, to find out something for themselves.
Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?
Well, I'm taking a chaplaincy course at St. Boniface Hospital right now. So, every Monday I'm there in the classroom and every Thursday I'm on a unit. I've loved it. I think it really benefits me in terms of what I teach, and what I teach helps me in the hospital, so it's a great fit that way. I actually just got a half-time position starting in January 2020, where I'll still be a student, but I'll also be practicing what I'm learning, and of course teaching at CMU.
What do you most long for in your work?
Haha! Oh man. Well—healing, for heaven sakes. Yeah. I think I'm chasing healing.
What saying or motto inspires you?
Actually, I've never been a person to have mottos or sayings—until recently. These days there are a few that I use. One is 'A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul;' I like that one. I also like a really simple sentence that says 'This is how I love,' which is just a reminder that when you're feeling timorous about your own capacity to love well, you do still have that capacity, and this is how you're going to do it. You don't have to apologize. It is going to be incomplete, but it's what you have. I would probably roll my eyes in years past and think that these were trite, but they're not. They're simple, but they're not simplistic.