Eastern Mennonite University

A Century of Countercultural Education

By (author) Donald B. Kraybill

Hardback - £31.95

Publication date:

12 September 2017

Length of book:

424 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271079134

In this unique educational history, Donald B. Kraybill traces the sociocultural transformation of Eastern Mennonite University from a fledgling separatist school founded by white, rural, Germanic Mennonites into a world-engaged institution populated by many faith traditions, cultures, and nationalities.

The founding of Eastern Mennonite School, later Eastern Mennonite University, in 1917 came at a pivotal time for the Mennonite community. Industrialization and scientific discovery were rapidly changing the world, and the increasing availability of secular education offered tempting alternatives that threatened the Mennonite way of life. In response, the Eastern Mennonites founded a school that would “uphold the principles of plainness and simplicity,” where youth could learn the Bible and develop skills that would help advance the church. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the university’s identity evolved from separatism to social engagement in the face of churning moral tides and accelerating technology. EMU now defines its mission in terms of service, peacebuilding, and community.

Comprehensive and well told by a leading scholar of Anabaptist and Pietist studies, this social history of Eastern Mennonite University reveals how the school has mediated modernity while remaining consistently Mennonite. A must-have for anyone affiliated with EMU, it will appeal especially to sociologists and historians of Anabaptist and Pietist studies and higher education.

“This book pulsates with life. Unlike most institutional histories with their inexorable march across time, this one contains elements of conflict rarely found in higher education. Each era of the school’s history presented new challenges, and the answers leaders found were unlike those of any other institution. Donald Kraybill offers insight without jargon, love without blindness, and language that sings.”

—Shirley Hershey Showalter, former professor and president of Goshen College, EMU class of 1970