News & Resources

Faculty Profiles: Michael Ferber, International Development and Sustainability

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage in College Program in Staff | Jan 12, 2016

Michael Ferber never runs out of things to do at The King’s University College (Edmonton, Alberta), where he serves as the university’s Director of Development, Co-Director of Environmental Studies and Associate Professor of Geography. Being a multi-talented and multi-disciplined scholar and teacher is essential for teaching Au Sable’s International Development and Environmental Sustainability course (Pacific Rim, Summer Session II), where students engage problems diverse in subject and intertwined in effect, like ecological sustainability, the relationship of poverty and environmental conditions, international debt, missions in developing countries, and appropriate technology.

Mike Ferber has been prepared by life and education for exactly this kind of course. In addition to earning a BA in Geography, MA in Education and a PhD in Geography from West Virginia University, Mike also holds an MDiv in Theology from Asbury Theological Seminary (Kentucky). All of these components connect in Mike’s life and work, as he has served variously as a Pastor, Christian School Administrator, Director of Development for World Vision, Graduate Teaching Fellow of the US National Science Foundation, and a lecturer at his alma mater, West Virginia University. A thoughtful Christian who integrates faith in all matters of teaching and scholarship, Mike has published in such diverse forums as The Encyclopedia of Geography, International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Evangelical Missionary Society, and American Religious Experience.

Precise, rigorous thinking about Christian integration in issues of development and sustainability is essential for a course like Mike’s. He explains, “The creation is facing difficult crises including environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, global climate change, limits to growth and global wealth inequalities heretofore unheard of in the history of humanity.  The next generation of Christian leaders must be able to address these multi-faceted and inter-disciplinary challenges.” Students who have taken International Development and Environmental Sustainability with Mike remember it as a challenging experience, intellectually and practically. Emi Tucker of Anderson University (Indiana) recalls, “International Development and Environmental Sustainability is probably one of my favorite classes that I've taken over my college career. The class material dared to go beyond the usual development topics to get to the root of the issue. We read a variety of authors with different points of view, which forced us to really examine all the possibilities.” Tony Blankers of Bethel University (Minnesota) explains, “Dr. Ferber had a great way of relating to students. He was able to sing along with Simon and Garfunkel one minute and sit down and have an intense conversation about global macroeconomics and development the next. Through his discussion-based learning, I took ownership of the class material and was able to process what it meant for my life.”

Despite abundant opportunities to use his expertise in many places, Mike returns each year to Au Sable’s Pacific Rim Campus. The reason, says Mike, is that “At the Au Sable Pacific Rim campus passionate and gifted Christian students from across the continent converge to explore environmental and social challenges on one of the most beautiful landscapes in North America.  Though my role is Professor, I learn more every year through my colleagues and students.”

Not many courses, and not many teachers, can produce for their students the kind of intellectual connecting and thoughtful Christian integration needed for subjects like development and sustainability. International Development and Mike Ferber can. This is why International Development and Environmental Sustainability is one of Au Sable’s best offerings for students interested in missions, development, and holistic applications of environmental science. Au Sable is honored to count Mike Ferber among its distinguished faculty to serve these students and their future work.