Alumni Interviews — Courtney Davis (’16)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Courtney Davis (’16). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated from Baylor in May of 2016. I majored in psychology and minored in statistics.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

After graduating from Baylor, I interned in the Budget and Policy division of the Office of the Texas Governor and worked at a nonprofit in Dallas. I am now a student at the University of Virginia School of Law, where I am a Dillard Scholar.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

My BIC education was integral in my decision to study law. As a BIC student, I developed a love for interdisciplinary learning and realized that I did not have to limit my interest to one academic discipline or subject. I was a psychology student, but I recognized that every subject I studied enriched my understanding of psychology and vice versa. As I realized that my professional interests had changed from psychology to law, I was not worried about making the transition between disciplines because BIC equipped me to engage intelligently with any discipline and taught me what I learned in psychology and my BIC courses would still inform what I learned as a law student.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

My BIC classes were some of my favorite classes that I took at Baylor. I value them dearly. I honestly don’t think my college experience would have been as fulfilling if I had not been in BIC.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

That there is immense value in interdisciplinary learning. It not only enriches your educational experience, but personally develops you by making you a better thinker, problem-solver, and a more empathetic human being.

What are your goals for the future?

Short term, I am not sure what kind of law I want to practice though I have an interest in health law, but long term I would like to serve as a judge.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Realize that being in BIC gives you access to a unique and exemplary education that not everyone else gets. Value your BIC courses, professors, and advisors and be engaged. What you learn as a BIC student can continue to enrich your life after graduation if you open yourself to that, but you have to be intentional about it.

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Interviews | Comments Off on Alumni Interviews — Courtney Davis (’16)

Remember the Titans (of Yesterday): Lessons Learned in DC — Noah Ward (’19)

Who doesn’t love sports movies? These films find ways to bring together the highs and lows of any sports seasons with the drama and life lessons of even the greatest Shakespearean plays. Alright that last one may be a bit of a stretch, but I would challenge you to find anyone who does not love my all-time favorite sports movie, “Remember the Titans.” In particular, one of my favorite scenes from it is early on in the movie, after a series of long hard practices when the team goes from fighting against itself due to racial prejudice to working together as a team. The events accumulate in a moment of euphoria as two of the main characters who had been fighting, Julius and Gerry, work together and make a major tackle. Gerry starts off by yelling in a moment of celebration, “Left Side!” while pushing Julius in the chest. Julius responds likewise with a push and the statement, “Strong Side!” And so the two go back and forth for a few loud testosterones filled moments. It is clear at that point that everything will be okay and the joys of team work will conquer the dangers of prejudice.

I am sure at this point that all my readers are wondering what this glorious moment in cinema history has to do with a BICer in DC. Well… be patient I am getting there. As I have been in DC I have thought about the lessons which I would share with my fellow BICers through this post, and in person when I return to campus. Now I believe I have found it. Since Mid-September I have been serving as a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank as well as the presidential memorial to the only president with a PhD. Through this living memorial the Wilson Center strives to provide non-partisan, effective research for the general public and policy recommendations for the government. The idea of the institution comes from a quote by the president himself, in which he states:

“The man who has the time, the discrimination, and the sagacity to collect and comprehend the principal facts and the man who must act upon them must draw near to one another and feel they are engaged in a common enterprise.”

When I read these words carved into the first floor of the Wilson Center building my movie-quote oriented mind couldn’t help but float back to “Remember the Titans.” I imagined Scholars and politicians yelling at one another screaming, “Left Side! Strong Side!” my mini-fantasies aside, I can’t help but agree with President Wilson. A titan in his own right, Wilson established some of the founding principles of Liberalism, one of the most important of which was cooperation. We as people, no matter what career we find ourselves draw towards, must find ways to work together and use each other’s skills to help society as a whole. As someone who has found myself split between striving for a career in academia or government, I could not help but take the lesson to heart.

Living in DC I have noticed divisions; I have gone to many panel discussions and speaking events where different sides point their fingers at each other: Republicans at democrats, scholars at politicians. Yet, despite all of this, thanks to my participation in the think tank world I have also been given the chance to see these two sides of research and action come together to create meaningful change. two sides of the field come together to create a beautiful game; two races come together to heal a community; two cogs of policy come together to produce legislation. People are always at their strongest in any endeavor when they work together. This is a lesson I feel like the BIC especially stresses. In our tight knit community of future doctors, lawyers, politicians, businessmen, and yes… teachers, we have begun to embrace the idea of bringing different skills and areas of knowledge together, to produce something truly beautiful.

In such divisive times when both the concept of academia and the government (particularly bureaucracy) are being viewed as failing, or even harming democracy, I think it is important for all of us to look back on the lessons taught by “Remember the Titans,” Woodrow Wilson, and of course the BIC. To work together is to strive for a better world. No matter what career path we may choose going forward, so long as we remember this mantra, we will not only pursue a life worth living, but will live up to the challenge laid down by football players and presidents alike.

Noah Ward (’19) is a junior political science major from Springfield, Missouri. You can also read Noah’s reflections from before he left for D.C. — “BIC Killed My Dreams of Being a Spy.”

Posted in Current Students | Comments Off on Remember the Titans (of Yesterday): Lessons Learned in DC — Noah Ward (’19)

Texas Legislature Internship — Clay Parham (’19)

College is about the people you meet, the connections you make, and the internships you do as much as it is about the classes you attend. I took last semester away from Waco to intern in the Texas State Capitol. Seeing the legislative process, first hand, would be a learning experience, and it would be nice, I thought, to avoid classes that Spring. What instead resulted was the most tiring, most exciting, most rewarding experience I’ve had at Baylor.

I’ve always been interested in politics, but my interest had only extended to the national level. It seemed that while Congress makes grand decisions about war and trade, the State Legislature squabbles about road signs and city ordinances. So, my decision to go to Austin wasn’t because of a love of Texas politics, but so I could see what the process was like on a smaller scale and maybe develop relationships that would help me in my career.

The Texas legislature is only gaveled in every 2 years, starting in January, for 140 days. So, on January 8th, I joined with the office of Baylor graduate Senator Kirk Watson. While I was incredibly lucky to join that office (which I later learned is the smartest, hardest working office in the building), I was immediately thrown into the fire. Apparently, with only 140 days to pass legislation, there was no time for lollygagging.

Like most internships, a position in the Capitol is what you make of it. Dr. Curry, the sponsor of the program, made sure to tell us that as often as he could. I decided to work as hard as I could, as well as I could, so I could do more than just answer the phones. My hard work paid off, and a month after my arrival there I was given my first piece of legislation. It would become a project that called upon my research, writing, and speaking skills that I learned in BIC to force through and pass.

While the Texas Legislature does squabble about road signs and city ordinances (which I now know they shouldn’t), they also help fund Medicaid, influence the leadership and tuition at State Universities, and control Child Protective Services, each of which is incredibly important for individual Texans. Everyone should learn more about their local government, because it matters.

Clay Parham is a junior international studies major from Buda, Texas.

Posted in Current Students | Comments Off on Texas Legislature Internship — Clay Parham (’19)

Alumni Interviews — Madeleine Sligh (’14)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Madeleine Sligh (’14). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in December of 2014. I was a University Scholar, with concentrations in International Studies, Spanish, and Portuguese.

What were you involved in outside of BIC?

I was a Line Camp Leader and a Welcome Week Leader, which I absolutely loved. I was in Sing Alliance and Global Community. I also studied abroad twice, once in Maastricht, the Netherlands (2013) and once in Madrid, Spain (2014).

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

After I graduated from Baylor, I worked in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal. I then went to work for the United Nations at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile. I started law school at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in the fall of 2015, where I am currently pursuing my J.D. as well as my Masters in Latin American Studies. While in law school, I worked for the Department of Justice at the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and for Gama Gloria, a Portuguese law firm. This past summer, I worked for Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm in Washington, D.C., in the Business Immigration and Compliance Practice.

What do you enjoy most about your recent work–or what is something you are currently excited about?

I think the thing I love most about the law is that it is constantly challenging me. Every case is a puzzle and it’s really fun to get to find the perfect pieces that fit in that puzzle. Also, as cliché as this sounds, I really like being able to help people. Immigration is a particularly daunting field of law, especially in today’s political climate, and I like being able to make things possible for people.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

BIC helped prepare me for the amount of reading for law school. I also met some of my best friends through BIC, many of whom I’m in contact with regularly (and one of whom I’m in contact with constantly). I think the reason I liked BIC so much to begin with was that it was a family. I liked being able to see the same faces in class, and as an alumnus, I’ve noticed BIC-ers tend to stick together. There are a few from my year in D.C. that I know of, and all of them reached out to me within a couple of days of my moving there about meeting up. I would do the same for anyone who was in Arizona. I think that’s pretty special.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

I loved being a Peer Instructor. The students I worked with were really cool (shout out to Welty’s Cultures Class 2013).

Many alumni recall the theme of the examined life from their time in BIC. How does this concept still influence you today in your life and/or work?

I think it is important to take time for self reflection. I did not really recognize the importance of this in college, but I think being in tune with what is necessary for your mental and physical health to stay balanced is really crucial to being successful.

What are your goals for the future?

Anyone who knows me well knows my top two dream jobs are 1) Secretary of State and 2) U.S. Ambassador to Portugal. But as far as a little more in the near future, I want to graduate law school, get a job (hopefully in D.C., but honestly, I’m willing to go just about anywhere), and then travel the world. I don’t know if this counts as a goal, but I think being happy is a good one to have too.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Hang in there! First year is rough but it gets better. Make the absolute most of your time at Baylor. If you want to do or try something, just do it! Don’t let other people pressure you either way. Go to all the Baylor traditions and football games, you have no idea how much you will miss them when you leave. And (of course)… study abroad.

Is there anything else would you like to share?

I just want to say thank you! I am immensely grateful to all my professors (particularly Dr. Cann and Dr. Wright, and Prof. Welty for being a great PI professor), all my friends (#bicem), and to Dr. Nogalski.

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Interviews | Comments Off on Alumni Interviews — Madeleine Sligh (’14)

Note from the Director — Fall 2017

Hello BIC alumni and friends,

I hope the change of season finds you well in the midst of these tumultuous times. The devastations of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria are concrete reminders of the interconnectedness of all beings. In these challenging and divisive political times, I’m finding myself heartened by the enthusiasm for learning and self-less service that our BIC students, faculty, staff, and alumni exhibit. That so many alumni are out there doing all kinds of good work in the world gives me hope for the future on a daily basis.

As many of you know, one of our BIC Assistant Directors, Adam Moore, has been expanding our outreach to alumni. In the spring we had 15 alumni who volunteered for the first BIC Alumni Mentor Program and this semester we have 32 BIC alumni involved. We also have 57 alumni involved in our Informational Interview Program. If you would like to get involved, you can learn more on our website. We’d love for you to join us.

We are also expanding our BIC outreach efforts to include parents and family of current and former BIC students. Our increased alumni outreach has caused us to realize that BIC touches the lives of many people beyond just the students in our program and the alumni. The influence of the BIC continues to grow wider and broader in scope.

On the Homefront here in Morrison Hall, the BIC continues to grow. We have increased the Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship in Rhetorical Studies, expanded our Peer Instructor, Peer Mentor and Undergraduate research assistant programs and welcomed new temporary full-time faculty to the community. We are also hiring a new BIC advisor position. Two of our BIC faculty Mike Whitenton and Sam Perry recently welcomed new BIC babies into the world. Also, I’m pleased to announce that Sam Perry and Candi Cann both received tenure this year and were promoted to Associate Professors in the BIC.

As part of my own ongoing project of living the examined life, I read Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns in preparation for her visit to Baylor as the Beall Russell Lecturer. It is a stunning and sobering book about the Great Northern Migration. I highly recommend it. I also found Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy a compelling, thought provoking read. Both books are reminders that the path of life-long learning is not always an easy one.

If you happen to be in the Waco area the first Friday of November, I’m giving a Keynote address at the Southwestern Philosophical Society. The title of the talk is “Stirring up America’s Sleeping Horses: Cornel West, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Socratic Parrehesia and Platonic Writing in the Public Sphere.” It is based on work I’ve been doing in the context of the social justice reading groups I am part of in both Austin and Waco.

I will also be giving a keynote talk on “Forms of Reason in Socratic Autobiography on Friday, April 13th at the History of Philosophy Society which will be held in San Antonio Texas at Saint Mary’s University.

Please stay in touch and consider donating to the BIC excellence fund.

Best wishes to all,

Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

Posted in Faculty, Note from Director | Comments Off on Note from the Director — Fall 2017

BIC Founders Interview — Dr. Bill Pitts

With this interview, we begin a new series of interviews focused on the founding faculty of BIC and the members of the committee that helped form the BIC. As we approach 25 years as a program at Baylor, we are increasingly grateful for the work these faculty did to help establish this program that has benefited so many students, faculty, staff, and others over the years. This month we interview Dr. Bill Pitts, professor of religion and founding faculty member for World Cultures II. Dr. Pitts plans to retire after the 2017-2018 academic year. We will certainly miss him in the BIC program, and we wish him all the best in his retirement.

How did you initially get involved with BIC? What made you want to be part of the BIC program?

When BIC began, the required courses in Religion were Old Testament and New Testament, rather than Christian Scriptures and Christian Heritage. I thought that [the BIC program] would be a way to introduce more students to key developments in Christian history and to relate church history to the broader history of Europe.

What were your hopes for BIC when it first started? Have those hopes come to fruition?

I was attracted to the idea of working in an interdisciplinary program. I thought that in this way Baylor could join other universities in forging innovations in educational general studies. I think that the recognition the program has received suggests we have been successful in achieving this goal.

How do you think BIC has influenced the larger Baylor community?

The BIC is well known across campus. It reminds the entire student body that the discovery of new ideas through reading and writing are essential components of the university experience.

What are your hopes for BIC in the future?

I hope that the BIC will continue to be a vibrant and innovative program. I especially want to see graduates secure jobs and be successful.

Which classes have you taught in BIC? What do you most enjoy about teaching in BIC?

I have taught in World Cultures II since the beginning of the BIC. The faculty has been great. We have moved along by consensus, experiencing a willingness to accommodate a wide variety of views and practices. I have learned much from fellow faculty members and also from the points of view of students whose different experiences evoke a broad array of insights into the texts we read.

What are you looking forward to in your upcoming retirement?

In retirement I look forward to reading widely and continuing to travel.

Do you have any memories of your time in BIC that you would like to share?

I have many memories of the BIC. The students seem to recall the Mosque visit from World Cultures II. Also memorable for faculty are the trips we have taken together, including China, Machu Picchu, and most recently, Iceland.

Posted in BIC Founders Interviews, Faculty, Faculty Interview | Comments Off on BIC Founders Interview — Dr. Bill Pitts

Baylor in Italy — Emily Varley (’20)

Spending the summer abroad is a magical, life changing experience which I was lucky to have this year. I traveled to Italy and spent five weeks working, exploring, and learning in an ancient world. Through the Baylor in Italy program, I had an incredible time learning and working. It was a transformative experience, which sometimes I cannot believe was even real.

As an anthropology student, my study abroad experience featured working every day in the Italian countryside at an archaeological excavation site. Led by Drs. Mr. and Mrs. Zori, I studied and learned under some of the best professors at Baylor. We were based in Barbarano Romano, a tiny farming community with ancient Etruscan roots, dating back to a pre-Roman civilization. It was fascinating to find artifacts in the dirt and then have one of the specialists on the trip explain the meaning behind what was found. Digging in the dirt all day was such a treat, we never knew what might be found.

In addition to digging, our group travelled around Italy on the weekends. In Rome, we ate at the restaurant which is supposedly built on the site where Caesar was stabbed to death – it was quite charming. We saw the Ara Pacis, displaying its fantastic propaganda for Augustus. We experienced the Coliseum, the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, and all the gelato stands in between. Not only did we get to see Roman history on display, we spent a great deal of time in the Vatican and Vatican museums. Rome is giant and fantastic and still a bustling city complete with such rich history. My favorite Italian city was Venice though. Being on that island was like stepping back in time, the surrounding waters a constant reminder of the city’s rich history. All the cities in Italy are like that to a degree, transporting us back to the world of the past.

The weekend travels were fantastic and tiring, but my favorite part of the trip was working during the week. A typical day started at 7, after waking up and getting dressed, I’d check my hiking boots for scorpions and then head to breakfast. Afterwards we loaded up the vans and headed to the nature reserve where our excavation sites are located. From there we’d hike up to our assigned work places and the day’s work would begin. Going until about five, with field lunch at noon – everyday was exhausting but completely worth it. At the day’s end, we’d be covered in dirt, dust, cobwebs, thorns, or mud and we’d have to race our roommates to the house to get first shower. Lab work was essential too, and until dinner we would go clean pottery sherds, glass shards, and bone fragments. Dinner in Italy is a long affair, and from about 7:30 to 10:30 we’d be eating, laughing, talking, and trying to enjoy frizzante. The van rides home were always the best; we blasted music and sang along, while trying to beat the other vans home so we could get on the wifi first…

Overall, this trip was one of the highlights of my life. Many of the Baylor students from the trip are dear friends and I look up to the professors who I learned from on this trip immensely. Nothing will ever beat the feeling of working hard all day, digging the dirt, carrying it, and examining it and then finally finding something you recognize. Whether it was a bone or a decorated pottery sherd, finding something made all the work worthwhile. On the trip, I found myself living fully, learning constantly, and loving the work. I am so thankful for the opportunity to study abroad.

Emily Varley is a sophomore anthropology major from Saint Charles, Missouri. Emily also serves as a Mentor in Examined Life.

Posted in Current Students, Study Abroad | Comments Off on Baylor in Italy — Emily Varley (’20)

BIC Faculty Updates — Fall 2017

Candi Cann: Hello former BICers! I hope this update finds you safe and well. This last year has been full of exciting changes– I received tenure, and am now a Faculty in Residence at Texana House in North Village. I’ve also got a new website featuring my various projects and media interviews if you want to check it out– Maia is now in fifth grade and enjoying her new school and residence, and loves hanging out at Baylor. I hope this year brings you blessings and joy and please come visit us next time you are in Waco.

Paul Carron: I just finished my third year on tenure track in the BIC, but my eighth year teaching Social World I, which I once again coordinated. I also continue to teach Social World II, Biblical Heritage, and a philosophy elective in ethics (my main area of research). As I travel to academic conferences and talk to professors from around the world, I am continually reminded how fortunate I am to teach in the BIC! Bright, inquisitive, and enthusiastic students, wonderful colleagues, and a beautiful and vibrant university campus make for a magnificent place to call home. I really can’t imagine a better place to be. I continue my diverse research interests. I presented “Ape Imagination” at the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress in August, my third paper critically engaging primatologist Frans de Waal’s evolutionary account of human morality. I also presented a paper on Aristotle at a conference in Cape Town, South Africa in August (the picture was taken at the Cape of Good Hope). This paper continues my project of putting Aristotle’s account of virtue into dialogue with contemporary research in psychology. I am also working on papers on Kierkegaard and Plato (the latter with Anne-Marie Schultz). My wife Jennifer—who has spent her career in Admissions—finished her first year overseeing Financial Aid in addition to Admissions. It was a busy and stressful year, but our undergraduate class continues to improve in academic achievement and diversity. My children continue to keep me young at heart (and old in body!). Ellie just started the fourth grade at a new school, and is very excited to be in class with her best friend Maia (Dr. Cann’s daughter)! The twins—Bennett and Mikaela—joined Ellie at school this year as they began kindergarten (where did the time go?). They are also joining her at piano lessons and gymnastics. And Nora—almost 3­—is affectionate, gregarious, and obstinate as ever!

Sharon Conry: Professor Conry continues to teach in both Natural World I and II.

Stacey Hibbs:  Dr. Hibbs continues to teach in both BIC and Great Texts. This semester she is teaching World Cultures I and Social World I, and in the spring she taught a BIC Capstone, “Friendship: Happiness, Virtue, and Love,” with her husband, Dean Thomas Hibbs.

Mark Long: Dr. Sam Perry and I completed an article titled “Depictive and Archetypal Metaphors in the Rhetoric of Daesh,” and I am finishing an article on the collapse of the caliphate.  Our big family news is the birth of our third grandchild this summer.  Her parents named her “Penelope,” a name which has morphed into “Pippa” at the last homely house.



Charles McDaniel:  I am serving as director for the Baylor in St. Andrews study abroad program this semester.  Eleven Baylor students are participating and taking BIC 4389 “The Moral Ecology of Capitalism” in addition to courses offered through various departments at the University of St. Andrews. Everyone is now settled in and becoming acclimated to life at this venerable institution in a land  where one commonly experiences all four seasons on the same day.  Our first group hike in and around Stirling, a location rich in Scottish history, will take place Thursday.  This is the first of many updates to come.

Ivo Novakovic:  Dr. Novakovic continues to teach across multiple BIC courses throughout the year. He is currently teaching World Cultures I, World Cultures III, World Cultures V, and Biblical Heritage. In the spring he also taught Social World II and World Cultures II.

Sam Perry: This year I am teaching World of Rhetoric I and the capstone course: The Allegory of the Cave and Contemporary Film. I am continuing to work on research that pertains to race, racism, and violence. I am in the revision phases of multiple projects that I hope will come out later in the Fall or early Spring, and there is a piece already in press that should come out soon looking at the political responses to the Charleston Church Shooting. Dr. Long and I continue our work looking at Daesh recruitment materials. Our Graduate Fellows program is continuing to thrive, and this year two fellows have gone on to top tier PhD programs in Communication. Also, and most exciting, Mary and I are expecting a little girl this Fall!

Anne-Marie Schultz: Hello BIC  Alumni, I’ve had an eventful year. Highlights include hosting the Ancient Philosophy Society here in Waco in April and a trip to Pune India for a month of study at the Iyengar Institute. I’ve been busy writing various articles on Plato and am getting ready to turn more full attention to getting my second Plato book done. Hopefully, I’ll be able to report on that success this time next year. On the personal front, Jeff and I are celebrating our seventh anniversary this Labor Day weekend. Last November, we moved my parents from an assisted living place here in Austin up to Buena Vista, Colorado. They now live with my sister and brother in law. They are both flourishing in their new environment. Jeff, Milo, and I have made several trips up to Colorado to provide some back up respite care. Most recently, we spent the last two weeks of summer vacation up there avoiding Texas heat. The temperatures were pretty regularly 30 degrees cooler. We did some hiking and biking and fishing. (The picture is of me and Milo resting at the top of Continental Divide trail on Cottonwood Pass.) Another highlight, the total eclipse! At some point prior to our Colorado trip, we realized we would be only five or so hours from the path of totality. Jeff, Milo, and I drove to Wheatland, Wyoming and camped out in a tent in the back of our Honda Ridgeline. It was an awesome experience filled with the beauty of nature and human community of strangers coming together for a shared experience. It was well worth the all night drive to make it back for the first day of Examined Life I, which I’m teaching for the first time. I’m really enjoying connecting with the first year BIC students. Have a great year!

Lynn Tatum: Dr. Tatum is continuing his work on academic freedom and keeping up with developments in the Middle East. As for BIC related activities, Dr. Tatum is the father of two recent BIC alumni. His daughter, Talj, got married this summer and moved down to Austin where she is a graduate student in archiving at a large state university in Austin that shall go unnamed. His son, Tane, (BIC 2016), just headed out for graduate school at Stanford in astro-nautical engineering (i.e. yes, it’s “Rocket Science”). This past summer, Dr. Tatum, along with his son, has been working on his pilot’s license. Dr. Tatum calls this a “mid-life crisis”; his wife refers to pilot lessons as an “end-of-life crisis”.

Sarah Walden: Dr. Sarah Walden is in her fifth year as a professor of Rhetoric in the BIC. She is currently teaching Rhetoric I and Examined Life I, and is excited to teach her first capstone in the spring. Her first book, Tasteful Domesticity: Women’s Rhetoric and the American Cookbook, 1790-1940, will be published in January by the University of Pittsburgh Press. She is currently researching maternal rhetoric on social media, in particular rhetorics of failure, self-care, and professionalism. She also enjoys her time with her husband, Dan, her son, Liam, and she continues to pursue her passion for cooking and yoga.

Xin Wang: Dr. Wang is teaching World Cultures V and Elementary Chinese this fall and continues to teach World Cultures II in the spring.

Jason Whitlark: This year I traveled to Italy to participate in Baylor in Italy Summer 2 session with some excellent BIC students.  It was a remarkable time for me, Jennifer, and Hannah to spend time with all the students learning about Roman and Christian history in Italy, hiking the Via Francigena, and experiencing both socialized and privatized medicine in Italy. Regarding publications, my book on the rhetorical structure and purpose of Hebrews was accepted for publication and an essay on Jesus as the ideal king in Hebrews was completed and will appear in an edited volume. The picture is taken at Villa Jovis on the beautiful island of Capri.

Lenore Wright: Lenore Wright, Ph.D., is the Director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning (ATL) and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies & Philosophy at Baylor University. As director of the ATL, she facilitates faculty development programs and acts as a liaison with Deans and Departmental Chairs. Wright’s scholarly interests include theories and representations of the self and feminist philosophy. In 2006, she published The Philosopher’s ‘I’: Autobiography and the Search for the Self. Other select publications include “Becoming a (Wonder) Woman: Feminism, Nationalism, and the Ambiguity of Female Identity” in Wonder Woman and Philosophy (2017), “Sameness and Difference: Simone de Beauvoir and the Question of Female Identity” in Identity, Freedom, and Responsibility, ed. Fernando di Mieri, Edizioni Ripostes (2017), “From ‘I’ to ‘We’: Acts of Agency in Simone de Beauvoir’s Philosophical Autobiography” in Philosophy of Autobiography (2015), and “Who’s Afraid of Naomi Wolf: Feminism in Post-feminist Culture” in Feminism and Popular Culture (2013). Wright is also engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning and teaching-related initiatives. She has published in Teaching Philosophy and the Journal of Interactive Instruction Development. She is an academic consultant for the International Organization for Student Success, publisher of the College Portfolio for Success. She received Baylor’s Outstanding Professor Award at Baylor in 2008-09 for distinctive teaching.

Davide Zori: Looking back on my third year at Baylor I am so thankful for my experiences with the BIC students and my colleagues. This has become a true home to me and my family. In research, I have continued work on the Vikings and have an article forthcoming on our discovery of an Icelandic Viking Age harbor. At the moment, I’m spending most of my time writing about Viking conceptions of death as depicted in their burial rituals. But I’ve been branching out too. I used my previous research on iron hardware from Viking-style boats to make an argument for the discovery of the first archaeological evidence of northern European ships entering the Mediterranean during the Crusades. The evidence seems small—a hoard of five distinct iron nails found in a reused Roman tomb in Jaffa, Israel—but the relevance is much broader. And that is the beauty of archaeology! My wife, Colleen, and I ran an archaeological research project and field school in Italy for the second year. This past summer, twenty-one Baylor students joined us in the search for an Etruscan city and the excavation of a medieval castle. We have put together a team of faculty from across the Baylor campus that work closely with students in original research. I am enjoying this project immensely and look forward to a third season in the summer of 2018. For those interested in joining us, please contact me… it’s work, and discovery, but we also have time for seeing the sites of Italy— as evidenced by this picture of Colleen and I in Florence.

Posted in Faculty, Faculty Updates | Comments Off on BIC Faculty Updates — Fall 2017

Kindling the Flame — Anna Watson (’09)

This article is part of our series in which we invite BIC alumni to contribute articles connecting their own work, education, experiences, or interests to their BIC education. Today’s contribution is from Anna Watson (’09), Director of the Meridian Freedom Project in Meridian, Mississippi. We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in contributing an article, email us at


After graduating from Baylor in 2009, I joined Teach for America and moved to Houston where I spent a summer trying to teach an impossibly confusing summer school course called ‘World Geography’ to a group of high school students at Davis High School. It was so bad I once had a student get up and run out of the classroom for home. (I decided not to chase him.) From there, being an English major, I was placed in the Arkansas Delta with a more suitable assignment teaching AP Literature and 10th – 12th grade English. I taught my required two years and loved my community and my students so much that I taught for two more. However, this work was incredibly hard, and while there were many rewarding moments, knowing how high the stakes were for my kids made it tough to feel true success. As a state-tested teacher, I was constantly torn between approaching my role as an educator in two ways: simply giving information that would turn into knowledge, or exciting an appreciation for knowledge that may not bear fruit for years to come. W.B. Yeats once wrote “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Long before Yeats, Socrates also said something very similar, “education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

My students went to a school where seeing any kind of recruiter representing an academic institution was rare. We all felt that in some ways, they had been written off as too far behind for any kind of post-secondary success. Of course, my experience represents a tiny fraction of the landscape of public education in the United States, but after I moved to Mississippi in 2013 to found a non-profit that supports students outside of school (The Meridian Freedom Project), I realized that the problems that plagued my school in Arkansas are pervasive, and not unique. While I could write ad nauseam about the issues facing our public schools and the students being left behind, I’d rather share an invaluable lesson that BIC taught me: the most important thing we have to learn (and to pass on) is how to think. As a teacher, when I began to plan days in my classroom around what kids would be thinking, feeling, and wondering instead of what they would be doing and producing, I sought to kindle as many flames and light as many fires as I could. And I also quickly realized that my time as a BIC scholar prepared me for this in more ways than I realize, even today. At Baylor, I learned how to think, wonder, and most importantly, question the world around me. It was my work as a BIC scholar, listening to my classmates and professors, seeing the world through different lenses and reading and responding to some of the greatest works of writing in this world that planted more seeds and lit more flames in me than I could have possibly realized. In today’s polarized world, it is so easy to insulate ourselves within a silo of people who agree with us and think like us. Years ago, my college friends and I used to joke about the “Baylor bubble,” and I remember thinking that because I volunteered around Waco, had a few friends that didn’t look like me, and took advantage of opportunities to travel and serve around the world that I was an exception to this. But I realize now, I wasn’t. I set boundaries for myself that felt safe, then pushed them back a little, and grew comfortable. But that is not what the world, or Christianity calls us to do. It wasn’t until I began teaching and working with colleagues much smarter – and very different – than me that I realized the importance of practicing the most important truths BIC had impressed upon me: it’s not about what you know, it’s about wondering about what you don’t know; it’s not about understanding, it’s about asking questions. I am a better teacher, voter, leader, and Christian because of that.

In the last gathering of my BIC senior capstone course, which was thematically focused on the bildungsroman, we were discussing the use of antiquated language in literature and its place in the modern world, specifically referring to novels in the cannon and whether they should be replaced. One of my professors looked to me and said, “Anna, I know you are headed into a classroom next year, what do you think?” I remember feeling on the spot and incapable of contributing anything insightful that had not been said, so, I opened my mouth and said, “In about a week, I will be leaving here with a very expensive piece of paper and all it will say is that I can read and write really good, so what do I know?” While I applaud my ability to reach back into my first ‘Examined Life’ course and remember that humility was going to be the way to go here, I still cringe. The irony. Trust me, after that I sat down and engrained the proper use of “well” vs. “good” into my skull. But, while my in-depth knowledge of English grammar may have briefly failed me there, as does my memory of exactly what happened in The Epic of Gilgamesh, or the differences between Kierkegaard and those other guys we studied in my ‘Social World’ classes, I am proud and grateful for the ways my BIC experience has pushed me as a thinker and inspired me to pass that on to my students today.

Anna Watson (’09) is Director of the Meridian Freedom Project in Meridian, Mississippi.

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Articles | Comments Off on Kindling the Flame — Anna Watson (’09)

Alumni Interviews — Kara Allen-Jackson (’14)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Kara Allen-Jackson (’14), a television news producer in San Antonio. We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in May of 2014 with a degree in Film and Digital Media.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

After finishing school at Baylor I found a job at a local news station the week of graduation. I worked my way up from Production Assistant to News Producer over a two-year period, and then I moved to a bigger market in San Antonio.

What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

The news industry is always changing. The game plan going into every day is the same, but the process is very fluid. You never know exactly what will happen, or when and how. So, you get a little bit of an adrenaline rush.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

Being a part of the BIC program taught me how to see things from someone else’s perspective. That characteristic is critical to maintaining integrity in my industry. There’s never just one side to a news story.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

I loved the trips we took in BIC. We went to places across Texas that I probably never would have traveled to visit on my own (e.g. a synagogue service, a mosque and art museum in Dallas, etc.)

What are your goals for the future?

In the next two years I’d like to focus on starting my own non-profit.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Soak everything in while you can, but don’t just focus on the book knowledge. BIC is a great environment for personal development as well. Take time to learn life lessons and apply them.

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Interviews | Comments Off on Alumni Interviews — Kara Allen-Jackson (’14)