Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) is a public liberal arts college in the State of Virginia, United States. Its title of “liberal arts college” reflects that its mission is to deliver a holistic education including general knowledge and thinking skills, rather than focussing on a technical skill or vocation.
EMU was founded in 1917 by a group of Mennonites, members of a branch of Christianity focusing on nonviolence. They wanted to create a higher education institution suitable for young members of their community which taught Mennonite values, but wasn’t limited to Bible study. Eastern Mennonite University was established to teach arts, sciences and humanities subjects along with spiritual guidance. While conservative Mennonites are known for living in isolated communities without modern technology, the university is based on a more liberal stream which is integrated into society.
The university’s Center for Justice and Peace trains graduate students in disciplines such as conflict transformation. Alumni have gone on to form non-government organisations and work in conflict resolution worldwide. Former student Leymah Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work to end the Second Liberian Civil War.
The university motto is “Preparing students to serve and lead globally”.
Cross-cultural study is a requirement for graduation, which most EMU students fulfill by spending a semester abroad in countries such as Morocco, Guatemala, India or Spain.
The city of Harrisonburg is EMU’s home, located in the Shenandoah Valley. Shenandoah National Park and George Washington and Jefferson National Forest lie to either side of the city.