The King’s University in Edmonton, Alta., announced its first Canada Research Chair, awarded by the government of Canada to Neal DeRoo, associate professor of Philosophy. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding scholarship and research; it comes with a grant of $500,000 CDN over five years.
“It really is such an amazing honor,” said DeRoo, a lifelong member of the Christian Reformed Church. “I feel very blessed to have received it and very thankful to all my teachers and professors over the years—at Wellandport Christian School, Smithville District Christian High School, Calvin College, the Institute for Christian Studies, and Boston College (where DeRoo earned a Ph.D.)—who helped me learn how to think as a Christian in our world today.”
Being named Canada Research Chair in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Religion will give DeRoo more time to work on research as well as the means to better disseminate his work—speaking at conferences, traveling for lectures, and bringing in speakers and research collaborators. “My hope is that this award is something that is good not just for me or for King’s but for the whole Christian community in Edmonton and western Canada. I think there’s a lot of desire at King’s to try to use our gifts and position as a Christian university to help the broader church with the issues that are facing us as Christians in our current context.”
Phenomenology is defined as the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness. For DeRoo, that means “helping us all see how we are inherently religious beings, driven by a deep spirituality that can drive us to be agents of reconciliation, working with Christ in us—as Paul talks about regularly in his Epistles—but which often instead, in our current context, causes us to seek our own happiness and our own gain, driven by a spirit of consumerism or individualism.”
“Without realizing the underlying spiritual condition of humanity, it may be impossible to diagnose the real root problems of a lot of what we see in our world today. First and foremost, my research, for me, is about trying to understand the world we are living in today, and what God’s work of redemption can say in and to that world,” DeRoo said.