Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life

Advisory Committee

The Ronning Centre operates with the support of an active Advisory Committee. The Committee's members are invited by the Dean of the Faculty based on recommendations by the Director of the Centre. The Committee's mandate is to support the work of the Centre and its Director, provide advice and community feedback, and assist in fundraising. Appointments are for a three-year term, renewable.

Current Advisory Committee Members:

Joseph Wiebe, Ph.D. – Augustana Faculty (Religious Studies) – Dr. Wiebe teaches Religion and Ecology with an interest in ethics, imagination, and community. Wiebe’s ongoing research is on the ways land shaped Mennonite and Métis identities within different religious and political contexts. His first book, The Place of Imagination was just published by Baylor University Press (2017).

Brandon Alakas, Ph.D. – Augustana Faculty (English) – Dr. Alakas teaches courses on classical and medieval literature. His long-standing interest in Latin literature in particular is fueled by his research on monastic culture. He has published on Latin historiography but his current work examines devotional literature written immediately before the English Reformation. When not reading or writing about monks, Brandon tries to make time for his excessive number of hobbies, which include language learning, cooking, and running.

Rev. Markus Wilhelm – Glory Lutheran Church, Sherwood Park – Rev. Wilhelm attended Camrose Lutheran College, has studied in Germany and served Lutheran congregations in British Columbia and in Calgary, Edmonton, and Sherwood Park, Alberta.

Nakita Valerio – Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council – Nakita Valerio is an academic, activist and writer. She is currently pursuing graduate studies in History and Islamic-Jewish Studies at the University of Alberta, where she has received a number of awards and fellowships. She has been recognized by Rotary International with an Award for Excellence in Service to Humanity and has been named one of Edmonton’s “Difference Makers” for 2015 by the Edmonton Journal. Nakita is the co-founder of Bassma Primary School in El Attaouia, Morocco, and the Director of Public Policy with the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Daniel Sims, Ph.D. – Augustana Faculty (History) – A member of the Tsay Keh Dene First Nation, Prof. Sims currently teaches History and Indigenous Studies at Augustana. Prior to joining the faculty at Augustana, he taught sessionally at the University’s North Campus in History and Native Studies. His research primarily focuses on native-newcomer relations in Western Canada, with a particular emphasis on the law, environment, and economy. Prof. Sims received his B.A. from Concordia University of Edmonton, and in Fall 2017 he will complete his Ph.D. in History at the University of Alberta.

Gail Stolee is a graduate of the University of Alberta in Arts, Education and Library Science. She worked for the Edmonton Public School Board, Camrose Lutheran College where she was also a member of the Board of Regents, and Augustana University College. Her community involvements include Rotary, Sahakarini (a local international development NGO), the Nordlys Film and Arts Festival, and Messiah Lutheran Church. Gail has been an active participant in the programs of the Chester Ronning Centre since its inception. She has a strong commitment to lifelong learning and service, and to making the best research and thinking accessible to the general public. She also especially loves being a grandma, travelling, and reading.

Paul L. Gareau, Ph. D. - is Métis and French-Canadian from Bellevue near Batoche Saskatchewan, Canada. He is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Native Studies and past Research Fellow for the Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research at the University of Alberta. His research is grounded in critical theory and methodology relating to the social, political, and cultural impacts of religion on identity formation. His academic publications and community research projects explore the Métis experiences of religion and Métis peoplehood, the influence of Catholicism on early and late modern identity, the legacy of colonial discourses on Indigenous and ethnocultural minorities, and the experiences of rural spaces. His research focuses on the Métis, Indigenous religiosity, youth, gender, la francophonie, and rural Canada.