BIC Faculty Publication — “Virtual Afterlives”

virtual afterlives

We are excited to announce that Dr. Candi Cann, assistant professor in the BIC, has a new book published through University Press of Kentucky. Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-First Century is an exploration of death and remembrance and how grieving in today’s culture is increasingly becoming a virtual experience. We recently interviewed Dr. Cann to learn more about her new book and to discover where she sees her research going in the future.

How did you become interested in the topic of memorialization and bereavement?

I first became interested in this subject because of our deep universal need to create narrative constructions out of lives after death.  My doctoral work centered on martyrs and examined how martyrs are manufactured in an intentional way to give meaning to death and also as a confirmation of political agendas—of the church or the state.  As I wrote on this subject, I also began to notice emerging bereavement practices creating a movement of Do-It-Yourself memorialization, such as tattoos, car decals, and Internet websites.

Why do you think these new bereavement practices are emerging in our current culture?

My book essentially contends that these contemporary mourning practices have emerged because of a number of reasons.  First, we are no longer comfortable with death or dead bodies.  Death no longer occurs in homes, but mostly in hospitals, and when people die, they are quickly cremated or embalmed.  So we never really confront the reality of death.  Second, grief, itself, is taboo, and people are not given enough time to grieve.  In addition, the DSM 5 classifies grief as mental depression if it lasts longer than two weeks.  That means that people who are rightfully mourning the death of a child have nowhere to talk about their grief, are not allowed the time off from work to mourn, and then are classified as mentally ill when they are actually going through a pretty traumatic experience.  This can make bereavement a really difficult experience, and this is why I see this trend of DIY memorials emerging.  People get tattoos, car decals, and form grieving sites online because they really have nowhere else to conduct the process of mourning.

Does your work offer any suggestions for how we might grieve in more healthy ways?  Continue reading

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BIC Graduate Nominated for Emmy Award


Baylor and BIC alum Allison Tolman (’04) has had a pretty incredible year. Not only did Allison catch her big break with a major role in the television mini-series “Fargo,” she also earned an Emmy nomination for the role and won a Critics’ Choice Award!

The Baylor Proud blog tells us a little more about what Allison has been doing since graduating from Baylor:

After graduation, Tolman helped launch Dallas’ Second Thought Theatre (alongside several other Baylor grads), then moved to the legendary Second City in Chicago. You may recognize her face from a number of commercials; she also appeared on the television show “Prison Break” and has starred on stages in both Dallas and Chicago. But doncha know, starring in a television show with Billy Bob Thornton, based on a movie by the Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, is a huge step in her career. (read more)

We will certainly be cheering for Allison on Monday, August 25 when the Emmy winners are announced! We are proud of Allison and all our BIC alums doing good work across the US and the world.

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Fulfillment of a Dream — Olivia Mills

blog photo

Written by Olivia Mills ’15

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he or she grows up”
- Pablo Picasso

I am very fond of this saying by Picasso. In many ways, it summarizes the way I manage daily stress. Pottery has been an outlet for me ever since the fifth grade. I joined a pottery summer camp in 2003 and ever since then, playing in clay has been my passion. It is the one place I’m allowed to let my creativity loose and my insatiable curiosity explore art and form. Throughout my elementary and high school years, pottery was my stress reliever and creative outlet. My instructor, Anita Hughes, was and still is one of my most trusted mentors. Without her and that garage studio, I don’t know where I would be today.

Although I always loved pottery, I never imagined it would grow to be something more significant than a hobby. After only one semester of being away from the clay studio, I knew I could never leave it behind. It had brought me through the ups and downs of adolescence, and I knew I would need that safe place to retreat into when life got hectic. With this in mind, I worked with my advisor so that I could declare a concentration in graphic design and simultaneously take ceramics courses every semester.

By spring 2013, I completed my first successful show as a ceramic artist. That summer I made the decision to spend my break launching Olivia Claire Designs, a business where I could sell my pottery. This was more than a simply career goal, but also a fulfillment of a dream. To be able to work in clay for the rest of my life, no matter where my graphic design pursuits took me, was something I came to realize I wanted badly. This was and still is my career goal. I knew however, that I would need Olivia Claire Designs up and running before graduation in order to concentrate on building a graphic design client base. With a little convincing -on my part, my dad allowed me to convert our barn’s feed room into my studio and an old horse stall into my kiln yard. These are humble beginnings, but my favorite stories have always been about people who started their successful businesses in humble places. My father is one such example and he has been my source for entrepreneurial inspiration from the start.

My goal is to be working solely for myself by age 30, at which time Olivia Claire Designs will hopefully be selling both my ceramic work and graphic designs. I have done three official art shows to date, and I am looking forward to another summer investing in Olivia Claire Design. I still have so much to learn about business and art, but as with all entrepreneurial endeavors, time is the best of teachers.

Feel free to swing by my Facebook page for a look at my stuff! 

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Note from the Director — Summer 2014

Dear  BIC alumni,

Greetings from Pune, India. My husband Jeff and I  just arrived after two rather long plane rides (Austin to London and London to Mumbai) and one rather harrowing taxi ride from Mumbai to Pune (and I thought traffic in Austin was bad!).

I’m in India studying at the Iyengar Yoga Institute.  I’ll use this time of intensive study to improve the capstone course on Yoga Practice in Contemporary America. I’ve only had the opportunity to teach the class twice.  It is really a lot of fun!

Yoga has actually been a part of the BIC for quite some time. Some of you may remember the extended learning options at the Waco Family Y and Walter Reece’s home on Oriental Avenue back in the day. The yoga capstone fits nicely with the recent national interest in integrating contemplative practices into the academic curriculum. We have several faculty here at Baylor, among them our own, Candi Cann, who meet regularly to discuss this aspect of the Baylor Experience.

Well, enough about me.  Summer is a busy time in the BIC. We are recruiting a new class,  advising the first year students, moving offices around, and welcoming two faculty (Dr. Paul Carron and Dr. Davide Zori) and two new BIC faculty babies (Carl Haze Wright and Adalyn Wang). In addition, Mark Long is offering World V and Lynn Tatum  is teaching Biblical Heritage here on campus. Several BIC students are studying abroad with the Baylor in Turkey and Greece program. Others are pursuing internships across the land.

Our faculty are busy giving papers and researching and thinking of new ways to improve the BIC. Ten BIC faculty recently completed a three day Course Makeover Workshop.

Well,  jet lag is getting the better of me, so I’ll sign off. If you’d like to read more about my studies in India, you can visit my Thoughts on Teaching Yoga and Philosophy blog.


Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

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Alumni Updates — May 2014

Sally Ann Moyer (’13) moved to Dallas shortly after graduation for an exciting job at a communications consulting firm. She is able to continuously explore new thoughts and ideas as she deals with clients across all industries. Her job also gives her some opportunities to travel, most recently to Montréal.

Daniel Saca (’13) just completed a post-baccalaureate program at the University of Pennsylvania and will attend the University of Illinois College of Medicine starting in the fall to pursue a medical degree.

Brooke Sartin (’13) took a year off after graduation but is confirmed to attend DePaul University College of Law in Chicago this fall. Brooke plans on a unique mixed concentration in health, international, and human rights law and will also pursue a dual degree, a JD and an MS in Public Service Management.


Malle Carrasco (’12) is finishing her commitment to Teach for America this May after having taught high school Biology for two years. She will stay in Memphis, TN to begin a PhD program in Biology, studying animal behavior, and she will marry her best friend, Jeremy Harris. (photo above–click to enlarge)

Jacob Creighton (’12) began a Master of Public Health program at Baylor the fall after his graduation. Jacob writes, “I absolutely love the program and what I am learning. Public health, much like the BIC, requires a great deal of collaboration and interdisciplinary thought. I will be attending medical school in 2016. Medical training and practice is undergoing tremendous renovation, and I believe that integration of public health core competencies will drive progress ahead.  I am also currently teaching—yes, TEACHING—several sections of health education to undergraduates.  I try and replace lectures with as many small group discussions as I can!”

Tiffany Gallegos (’11) is living in Waco and working on a Masters in Social Work at Baylor. She works with Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative and will be interning at Waco Community Development in the fall. She is overjoyed to be getting married in May!  Continue reading

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Current BICer in the WacoTrib — Christina Nguyen

trib article

The Waco Tribune-Herald published an essay on Sunday that was written by current BIC student, Christina Nguyen. The essay was originally written for Christina’s World Cultures IV class as a response to Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried. The essay serves as an excellent reflection for Memorial Day. Here’s a brief excerpt, and you can read the entire article above (click on the image to enlarge) or at the WacoTrib website.

My parents never spoke of the Vietnam War. Growing up, it had never been a part of my life, though it easily could have been. The stories my parents told my brother and me were lifted from American children’s books.

The oldest photographs my brother and I ever saw of our parents were in high school and college in the United States, in which they wore American clothes, carried American tennis rackets and smiled with their American friends. It seemed to me that my parents had never been anything other than American, and that the war I read of in history textbooks for class was something far removed from the house we lived in, something distant and impersonal. It had happened decades ago in another country and to other people. It was dead and past.

It wasn’t until I grew older that I began to notice the war here, in the United States and in my family. The shadows of it lurked in places I had always overlooked. (read the full article)

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BIC Alumna in D.C. — Emily Nicholson


In the spring 2014 issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine, Emily Nicholson (BIC 2003 graduate) is profiled alongside several “Capital Bears” who are making their mark in Washington, D.C. You can read the entire article above (click on the image to enlarge).

Emily works for Newseum, a Washinton, D.C. museum that “offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits” (learn more). Dr. Mark Long, Associate Professor in BIC, brings this article to our attention, and he remembers Emily well. In particular, Dr. Long recalls that in BIC Emily was affectionately known as “Athena.”

It’s always great to hear about our alumni doing good work across the country and around the world!

If you would like to share your own story with us, or if you have other ideas for the blog, please email Adam Moore, BIC Program Coordinator. We’d love to hear from you.

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Reflection from Dr. Robert Baird

baird smallerDr. Robert Baird, Professor and Master Teacher, has been part of BIC since before BIC even started and has taught in the philosophy department since 1968. After this semester Dr. Baird will retire, so we were pleased to honor him and another retiring BIC professor, Dr. David Longfellow, at this year’s Senior Recognition Banquet. Both Dr. Baird and Dr. Longfellow offered reflections on their time spent in BIC. Dr. Baird chose to reflect on the beginnings of BIC, and he has graciously allowed us to post his comments here. I hope you enjoy. (You may also want to read an article about Dr. Baird at the Arts & Sciences Blog)


Remarks to BIC Graduating Seniors
April 15, 2014
Robert Baird

There is a story to tell about the creation of BIC. There is even a story behind the story (a back story) to the creation of BIC. And since I am retiring, about to pass off the scene as it were, and since I chaired the task force that created the BIC, I decided that what I should do here as a final farewell to you students graduating in the BIC is to briefly tell that story.

On a January afternoon in a year before most of you were born, January 1991, I received a phone call from a secretary telling me that the vice president for academic affairs, Don Schmeltekopf, and the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Bill Cooper, wanted to come to my office to visit with me.

That meant one of two things: they were going to fire me or ask me to do something so big that they were willing to come to my office and it was going to take two of them to lay the task on me.  Continue reading

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2014 Senior Recognition Banquet

aagradAs we approach the graduation of our 2014 BIC class, last week we paused to celebrate their many accomplishments at the BIC Senior Recognition Banquet. Among those who shared with the graduating class was Dr. Sam Perry, Assistant Professor in BIC. Dr. Perry was gracious enough to allow his remarks to be posted here. Enjoy.


It is funny to stand in front of you all and think that nine years ago I was sitting in a chair listening to closing remarks at my own Senior Recognition Banquet, and I recall thinking in that moment that I was closing a chapter of my life. I suppose that was true in some ways, but in preparing these remarks for you all this evening it occurs to me that your graduation might more aptly be thought of as an epigraph—not to be confused with an epitaph. Often one of the most interesting and telling parts of any writing is the quotation that one finds at the beginning of the piece. So, I think it more fitting to consider your college career an epigraph to all of things that you now find yourself prepared to do: start a job, start an internship, graduate school, a fellowship, or setting off on a different path. You all are poised to do great things.

Rather than talking about one thing coming to an end, I would talk about words that I find particularly meaningful at the outset of things. So, I will offer you a few potential epigraphs that a BIC’er might carry with them into the wild blue yonder beyond the green and gold that you have called home for the past few years.

First, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”  - Ludwig van Wittgenstein.

You all have learned languages over your courses of study that have expanded your world. Each of you has earned a degree- you have majored in something or multiple things, you might have picked up a minor or minors along the way, too. I’d suggest that each of your specializations is a fluency in a particular language that you will set about putting to various purposes. This fluency in your area of study means one very important thing- that you have learned how to study a language: physics, biology, history, political science, philosophy, history, social work, etc… academic subjects predicated on solving problems by employing specialized languages. I encourage you to continue learning your languages and expanding the limits of your worlds. As lifelong learners you will expand you language and your world, you will learn new languages and explore new worlds. Continue reading

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BIC and Pre-Law – Raymond Panneton (’10)

Raymond L. Panneton, an associate with the Talaska Law Firm in Houston

Since its inception, the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core has helped many Baylor students prepare for the rigors of law school. One of our many pre-law graduates, Raymond Panneton (’10), recently contacted us with the following update:

After graduating from Baylor with a B.A. in Political Science, I earned a J.D. at Texas Southern University—Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where I served as an executive board member. I currently practice law with the Talaska Law Firm in Houston, focusing on complex medical malpractice and mass torts. In addition to my legal practice, I am a regular contributing columnist in the Texas Lawyer where I publish on technological advances in the practice of law.  I am married to Hailey Panneton (Baylor ’12- Philosophy/Political Science), and we share our home with our three dogs, Leah, Riley, and Cannoli.

In addition to this update, Raymond was also kind enough to send us a few words of reflection on his experience in BIC and how it helped prepare him for both law school and his work as an attorney. You can read Raymond’s reflection below.


Reflection by Raymond Panneton (’10)

As a practicing attorney, I have the benefit of retrospection.  I am now able to look back on my educational experiences and determine what contributed to my overall academic growth and success.  As I look back, I can without a doubt point to my BIC experience as one of the best academic decisions I made.

The BIC is designed to be a program that attempts to integrate core academic requirements into one cohesive academic program.  This integration of ideas and concepts challenges students to break the compartmentalized nature of higher education, that is, to realize that areas of study often affect and overlap each other.  The BIC program not only highlights these areas of overlap, but also trains their students to synthesize this information to see the larger, global picture.  Continue reading

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