Alumni Interviews — Cameron Boone (’04)

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 Cameron Boone (’04). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

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

I graduated in December, 2004 with a B.A. in history.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am currently a Vice President with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) in Houston.  I work as a commercial real estate appraiser in Valuation and Advisory Services where I focus on primarily on eminent domain and litigation support.

I look at appraisal like solving a puzzle; it can be very satisfying when all the pieces finally match up.  I also enjoy testifying as an expert witness.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

The BIC provided an integrated liberal arts education in a larger university setting – the best of both worlds!  I think my BIC education really shaped my view of the world.  It provided context for all types of thought – Christian, Western, Eastern, Modern, Postmodern, etc.

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

I really enjoyed visiting a Hindu temple, synagogue and mosque.  The perspective you get from actually attending a worship service is so much different than something you may read in a book or online.

I also fondly remember listening to music with Dr. Long in his office.  We shared the same taste in composers and artists and would turn each other on to new discoveries.

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

That the unexamined life is not worth living, of course!  I also learned that there is always another side to a story.  Instead of tuning out or immediately denigrating those who might think different than we do, we should do our best to first try and understand their perspective and worldview.

What are your goals for the future?

God has blessed me with a wonderful Baylor Bear wife and three precious children.  I want to work hard so that one day my kids will be able to have the same educational opportunities that I had.  My hope is that one day they will chose to follow Christ and leave a positive legacy in this world.

Is there anything else would you like to share?

I recall having some of my Baylor professors attend my wedding.  I think that speaks volumes about the caliber of faculty we have at Baylor and the relationships that can be formed.

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Alumni Interviews — Farrah Najmuddin Lang (’09)

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 Farrah Najmuddin Lang (’09). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

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

I graduated from Baylor in December 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a minor in Political Science. I then went on to get my J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in November 2013.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I currently practice law with Alimohammad & Zafar, PLLC, a boutique law firm in Sugar Land, TX. I primarily practice family litigation and breach of contract litigation. I really enjoy litigating. Only a few cases will get to the point that I have to be in front of a judge arguing my case, but those few are really exhilarating. I also really enjoy the closure and resolution when a case is completed, regardless of whether it’s at trial or through a settlement. Knowing that a client can now move forward with their life and I was able to help them get to that point is very satisfying.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

BIC taught me not to look at the world in a vacuum, both personally and professionally. Everything we do touches and affects the world around us. It’s important to understand the power of education and communication. As a society, the more we can learn about each other and from each other, the better our likelihood at making actual and substantial progress.

BIC taught me that people, in general, are more similar then they are different, but we have to be open to the differences.

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

I have lots of wonderful memories from BIC and I loved all of the field trips. But, I have to say that some of favorite memories are from just studying for exams, usually for a Cultures class. We would get together either somewhere on campus or at someone’s apartment and sit in a big circle and quiz each other about the material for hours the night before an exam. There was always a lot of laughter and good discussion.

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

In my capstone course, with Drs. Lynn Tatum and Ann McGlashan, we read Letters to a Young Poet, by Ranier Marie Rilke. There’s a passage in the book that says “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.” I think about this passage quite often. Life is always presenting more questions than answers and this quote reminds me that it is the questions themselves that make life interesting. The answers will come in their own time.

What are your goals for the future?

I hope to continue to practice law for a while, but I would like to eventually move into public policy. While I was at Baylor, I had the opportunity to work in the Texas legislature, which was an unforgettable and priceless experience. I think one day, I would like to get back to a more policy-based career.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I want to thank my BIC professors. I won’t list them, out of fear of leaving someone out, but I can easily think of many professors, and their classes, that have had a lasting impact on me. I don’t know that I appreciated their enthusiasm for the material and the program while I was at Baylor. I think BIC is a wonderful program that not only prepared me for law school and practicing law, but also taught me to strive to be a better person.

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Reflections from Auschwitz — Jake Shanley

Article by Jake Shanley, current BIC student

This past summer, I had the chance to travel to Europe for two weeks on a Christian pilgrimage. Every 3 years, 2.5 million young Catholic Christians (usually between 15 to 25 years old) travel to a designated place in the world for an event called “World Youth Day.” This past summer, the destination was Krakow, Poland. While there are many things I could talk about, I want to discuss my time in Auschwitz and how it relates to the theme of the pilgrimage: God’s Mercy.

The concentration camp Auschwitz is located two or so hours outside of Krakow. I’ll attempt to describe our moment there. As you walk into the camp of Auschwitz, the foreboding sign “Arbeit macht frei” hangs over the archway. It’s an obvious lie—“work sets you free”—used by the Nazis to coerce Jewish and other religious and ethnic prisoners to work until their deaths. While walking around one can read signs describing the function of certain buildings. “This was a gas chamber,” or “this was where the Jewish prisoners lived.”

There’s a sign on the corner of a bare wall on one of the buildings, with a picture of a Catholic priest, named Maximilian Kolbe. He had been captured by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz, and ministered to other prisoners with spiritual help during their occupation. One day, a prisoner escaped, and the concentration camp staff decided to execute twelve Jewish prisoners in his place. One man started weeping, crying out that he had a wife and kids, and they would be fatherless and have no way of support for themselves. Maximilian Kolbe stepped out of a group watching the execution, and volunteered to take the man’s place instead. For two weeks, Kolbe and the prisoners were sent to a “starving room,” where they would be starved out until their deaths. Kolbe was the last one to survive, and was injected by the guards with a lethal injection of carbolic acid to finish him off.

Seeing the site of his martyrdom, and all of the other one million Jewish prisoners, begged multiple questions. One we had to ask was this: for a pilgrimage revolving around “God’s Mercy,” where was His Mercy in all of this?

God’s mercy lies in the fact that every single person is made in His image—Nazi ideology distorted this truth. The example of Maximilian Kolbe and similar figures like Dietrich Bonheoffer shows that this truth extends to every person regardless of race, religion, or class. As BIC students, when we read the holy book of a different religion in World Cultures or simply converse with someone we do not agree with, we need to “love our neighbor” and not let differences get in the way seeing every person through the lens of God’s Mercy. Auschwitz did not happen overnight—it occurred from German citizens forgetting to love daily across the differences around them, and recognizing the dignity of all people made in His Image.

Jake Shanley is a sophomore BIC student majoring in philosophy.

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Alumni Interviews — Dr. Brian Dixon (’02)

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 Dr. Brian Dixon (’02). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

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

I was BIC Delta Class, from 1998 to 2002. I received a BA in Psychology and completed the pre-med curricula.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

Currently I have a thriving private psychiatry practice in Fort Worth where I spend most of my days working with adult and child patients on mental health concerns. I’m also the current Medical Director for Behavioral Health Services at BaylorScott&White All Saints Medical Center.

What I enjoy the most about my work? Hope. The best part of my day is seeing restored hope in my patients eyes at the end of every appointment. Many come in for various reasons (anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD) and they leave feeling hopeful about their lives and their dreams. I have the best job in the world.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

BIC taught me critical thinking; to question “why, what, how” with practically everything I do. While it made for some painful growing through medical school and residency, questioning the status quo has expanded my worldview far more than I could have ever dreamed.

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

Hands-down, the best experience from BIC was the camaraderie. We were an oddly close group of strangers who came together the fall of 1998. This was epitomized in the BIC Bulletin Board. Us “BIC(ker)ers” would discuss and argue about all sorts of things and the memory that sticks out the most if the musings about the idea of “Christian university” being mutually exclusive or not. I think those discussions still resound today.

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

Social World and “paradigm shifts.” When I experienced physician burnout, I started a nonprofit as a vehicle for healthcare reform and have built it into a movement to reform a 3.2 trillion dollar industry. My website: www.changehealth.today tackles the uncomfortable fundamentals of healthcare and social responsibility. Like the painful shift from geocentrism to heliocentrism, our understanding of healthcare needs a foundational paradigm shift. I hope to spark that discussion in 2017.

What are your goals for the future?

In addition to healthcare reform and eliminating mental health stigma, I aim to foster authentic and meaningful discussions on race and culture. As an African-American in the age of post-Obama America, I have a unique perspective on how we can celebrate variations in culture without disparagement or alienation. I aim to help bring this into our collective social consciousness.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I can say, without a hint of doubt, that BIC helped me become the person I am today.

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Baylor in Denia — Becca Munroe

becca-munroe-denia

Article by Becca Munroe, current BIC student

As I arrived in Denia, Spain my stomach danced with butterflies over my roommates and classes the next day, yet I was enthralled by the view in front of me. From our upstairs balcony of Alpha y Omega where the Baylor in Denia program stays one can see the Mediterranean, the Castle of Denia, and the city. I had no idea at the time what adventures and lessons this city would allow me, but I knew that I was lucky to be there. My roommates Nichole and Andrea were some of the best roommates a girl could have, and I was so lucky to be their friend. The bonds we formed will hopefully last a lifetime as we recollect on late nights studying, goofy jokes, trips to the beach, playing at the pool, and drinking chocolate milk to celebrate our success. Our group as a whole was extraordinarily well suited, almost everyone getting along well, allowing us to share our experiences and practice our Spanish.

The first week in Denia the students participate in Kids Camp, where we are supposed to be teaching the kids English and playing with them for two hours every day. However, I think that the kids taught me more Spanish than I taught them. My four year olds would run up to me and say “Becca! Sabes que…..” meaning “you know what?” and tell me all about their days before. These kids did not care if I messed up my conjugations or if I did not understand every word they spoke, but allowed me to practice Spanish uninhibited and taught me new phrases.  Although most people in Spain speak some English, it was challenging and fun to be able to go into town and practice what we were learning in class in a real life application. We were capable of talking to store clerks, restaurant servers, and general inhabitants of the city in Spanish, accurately communicating our desires and wishes. After struggling with Spanish at Baylor in my spring semester I was not sure that I would ever be conversational in Spanish. Through living in Spain for five weeks I was able to develop my skills more than I thought possible and in the end even talk to a Spanish friend for an hour about futbol- soccer.

More than anything the people in Spain were amazing. Every Spaniard I met was super friendly. They would patiently wait while we talked in Spanish, they would tell us about different events and other places they thought we would like to try, and they were generally kind.  I am so grateful that I had the chance to study abroad.

Becca Munroe is a senior BIC student studying biology.

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Alumni Interview — Dr. Katie Root (’05)

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 Dr. Katie Root (’05). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

katie-rootWhat year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2005 with a BS in Forensic Science.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am now an internal medicine physician and practice in an outpatient primary care clinic. I also am developing a new Medical Weight Management clinic with East Texas Medical Center, where I work, which should launch later this year. I enjoy having the opportunity to live my life-long dream of becoming a physician. I get to meet so many different people and am blessed to help them achieve their health and lifestyle goals.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

One important thing that I learned in BIC was to always ask questions. I never settle for believing something without doing my own research into it. I have utilized this throughout my medical training.

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

I really enjoyed the opportunity to go to several places of worship for different religions. It helped me to better understand these religions and experience first-hand what they are like. As a strong Christian, it was interesting to see and experience others’ beliefs, and better understand them when sharing my faith.

What are your goals for the future?

I am excited about the opening of our new Medical Weight Management clinic. I look forward to seeing this grow and help so many of the people in my community. My husband and I also plan to start a family and become further involved in our church and community.

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BIC Faculty Updates — Fall 2016

cann_perry-chapelCandi Cann: Hello BIC Alums! This August marked my five-year anniversary here at Baylor, and Baylor’s campus keeps growing more beautiful every year. Maia is now in fourth grade, an avid reader of anime, and learning to play the cello. This past year I published several articles on death and dying, and my next book Dying to Eat (UKY Press) is in the final stages of production. In June, I participated in an NEH Seminar at UVA, in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Maia and I stayed for a month, while I began research on the first and oldest African-American funeral home in Virginia. Later I traveled to Brazil and gave the opening keynote at the VII International Conference Imagens da Morte in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and this fall over fall break, I am giving two invited university lectures—at FSU, and the University of Florida. Maia and I are hoping to sneak in a trip to Harry Potter World in between the lectures. As Dumbledore said, “Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” May your own adventures be worthy ones full of excitement and knowledge.

paul-carronPaul Carron: I just finished my second year on tenure track in the BIC, but my seventh year teaching Social World I, which I once again coordinated. I taught a revamped Biblical Heritage with Dr. Novakovic that spent a lot more time on ethical issues and the students really seemed to enjoy that focus. I also taught Social World II and had the opportunity to teach my first upper division elective in the philosophy department on contemporary issues in ethics. The course focused on the intersection of social psychology and virtue ethics. I am looking forward to teaching the course again this spring. My paper “Monkeys, Men, and Moral Responsibility” was accepted for publication, and I wrote two articles on Kierkegaard’s psychology that are currently under review. My children just keep growing! Ellie had her first piano recital this summer (pictured left) and just began the third grade. The twins have one more year before kindergarten, and Nora is talking our ears off!

sharon-conrySharon Conry: This is my 15th year to teach in the BIC, and it has been wonderful!  Each new semester brings a great new group of students who teach ME, more than I think I teach them.  I have also had the opportunity to develop, write, and try out new labs in Natural World.  Some have worked out fabulously, others not so much!  Luckily, BIC students are great about adjusting to new things, and it has worked out well for us.  After much thought, prayer and saving, we built a small home in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia.  What a wonderful respite from the summer heat in Texas!  We also had the opportunity to take care of two of our three grandchildren for several weeks while their mother, father, and our oldest grandson went on a mission trip to Ecuador.  The time together was a great time to bond and create long-term memories with our grandchildren.  During our months in Georgia, we also had plenty of time to do our favorite things:  hiking and eating!   However, coming back to Texas and its 104 degree heat was a shock!  I can’t wait for fall to get here!

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-2Mark Long: This year, my wife and I traveled back to the Air Force Academy, where I taught previously, and we took our 11 year old granddaughter to San Francisco and Monterey, California.  Of note, several BIC students aided in my quest to grow a blue beard. My joint work continues with Sam Perry on the rhetorical strategies of Daesh.  My focus now is on the rise of Daesh-sponsored, extra-territorial violence as its self-proclaimed caliphate crumbles.  In particular, I am interested in the neologism that Daesh uses to describe and promote suicide operations, inghimas.

mcdaniel-tellurideCharles McDaniel: My wife and I escaped the Texas heat long enough to breathe in some mountain air in New Mexico and Colorado (pictured left).  We stayed in a 7000-square-foot Sears kit house in Canyon, Texas, that was built in 1906 and was the boarding house where Georgia O’Keefe took most of her meals when she was teaching at West Texas Normal College (now West Texas A&M).  We also stayed with a nice lady in Ridgway, Colorado, who was the personal assistant to actor Dennis Weaver of “Gunsmoke” and “McCloud” TV fame and had some interesting stories about the Hollywood life and why Weaver came to be a committed ecologist.

As for research/publications, I’m working on a paper titled “Religion, Social Justice, and the New Eugenics: Transcending the Market for Human Enhancement” that will be presented at the annual conference of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum in October.  I’m also developing a grant proposal for submission to the National Endowment for the Humanities that could help bolster the academic connection between the Honors College and Hankamer School of Business.  A couple of BICers are lending support to this effort.

Sam Perry: I continue to research representations of violence in protest movements, and I am currently looking at the analogous rhetorical structures present in the anti-lynching movement, the Civil Rights movement, and current protests of racial violence. I am also coauthoring work with Dr. Long on Daesh recruitment videos and speeches. We are looking at the ways representations of violence are used to radicalize and recruit people to extremist causes. Additionally, Dr. Walden and I have completed one new rhetoric textbook and will be completing a second textbook in the spring. I will teach both rhetoric classes, Social World I, and World Cultures IV this year. When I take a break from all things BIC and research, my wife Mary and I love to travel, and this summer we took a road trip through the Southeast with stops in Atlanta, Tampa, and New Orleans. When in Waco, we enjoy time with family, friends, and our dogs (Seamus and Remy).

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Alumni Interview — Dr. Kiera Boyle (’09)

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 Dr. Kiera Boyle (’09). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

dr-kiera-boyleWhat year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in psychology and philosophy. I knew I wanted to study psychology when I started at Baylor, but I learned to love philosophy while there and added the major during my junior year. I went on to get my doctorate in clinical psychology from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Although I ended up pursuing a career in psychology, my philosophy and BIC courses were my favorites while I went to Baylor.

 

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I currently work as a clinical psychologist at a children’s hospital in Boston. I specialize in treating children and adolescents with depression, anxiety, PTSD, difficult family dynamics, and other emotional and mental health challenges. I also do psychological testing with kids and teens to help them, and those around them, understand their cognitive abilities and the underlying reasons for their behavior more fully. I love a lot of things about my job! I am able to do a variety of different activities throughout the day, including therapy, testing, writing, reading, supervising psychologists-in-training, and teaching seminars. My work involves complex and nuanced thinking, but also connecting emotionally with others. Of course the best feeling is seeing a child make progress in knowing, expressing, and regulating their emotions; those moments when kids feel proud of themselves for the work they have done are the most rewarding.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

The main point that has stuck with me is that openness to new experience is an incredibly valuable thing to practice. It can be very challenging to separate from your own biases and beliefs at times, but when you can do so and see the “other” as someone to learn from and connect with, everyone benefits. We were challenged to do that both intellectually and experientially (going to the Mosque, Hindu temple, Synagogues, etc.) many times throughout our time in the BIC. I think that value of openness and genuinely attempting to see connections and meaning in things that initially feel very “other” from myself has influenced my desire and ability to empathize with people, including patients. It’s also made life a lot more interesting!

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

It’s hard to choose just one. I loved the field trips in general, but my favorite was going to the Dallas Museum of Art. I followed Dr. Henry Wright around and learned a ton about the paintings and artists. It made me appreciate the art much more to learn about the people and historical/cultural contexts of the works.

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

Honestly, I was very shy when I started attending Baylor. The most important thing I learned that still sticks with me is to speak up and not be afraid to share my thoughts and opinions with others. The small group class format in particular made this easier for me over the four years that I was in the BIC, and it’s something I’ve carried with me throughout my graduate training and career.  Even if my BIC classmates or professors didn’t agree with my points, the environment was one where we were allowed to explore and work through ideas out loud. I think that kind of setting is crucial for intellectual and personal growth.

What are your goals for the future?

What a hard question! Overall, I hope to keep growing as a person and as a psychologist. Balancing all the roles I’d like to play is likely to be challenging. I remember that during my capstone course with Drs. Hanks and Lenore Wright, we talked about how challenging it can be to develop a professional identity while raising a family and maintaining a home, particularly for women. I’d like to be able to feel that I’m fully participating in each realm of life and finding meaning by integrating those experiences. As for concrete goals, I’d love to write a children’s book one day!

Is there anything else would you like to share?

I can’t say enough how glad I am that I participated in the BIC. I hope my responses reflect how much I think it added to my experience while at Baylor, and that others continue to be able to have that experience. I am very grateful to the professors who went out of their way to create and maintain the program.

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Note from the Director — Fall 2016

“American culture, like Athenian democracy, is highly prone to authority and peer pressure, and to seeing political argument as a matter of boasts and assertions, of scoring ‘points’ for one’s side. That is why Socrates has so much to offer us, why Socrates is so urgently needed.” Martha Nussbaum

[W]hen we lose Socrates, we lose reflection, and when we lose reflection, we lose wisdom. And it is not only wisdom that we lose, although that is bad enough. When we lose Socrates, when we lose reflection, we lose a kind of closeness to reality, the ability to see the things that exist only in nuance, in hidden corners, in the uncommon details of life.” Stephen Carter

Hello BIC alumni,

As I mentioned in my previous note, I’ve been participating in a Yoginis for Social Justice reading group in Austin. Over the last year, we read Chris Crass’s Toward the Other America and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. During our summer hiatus, I took it upon myself to read Cornel West’s Democracy Matters and most recently Ta- Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. The readings and our discussions have led to some deep soul searching on my part about how I might bring what I’m learning into my more traditionally-oriented philosophy classroom. I’ve also been thinking about how various BIC classes might provide forums to talk about these important matters in more sustained ways.

One small thing I did was add the above quotes to my Plato Seminar Syllabus. I have always tried to use inspirational quotes for my syllabi, but when I looked at the quotes I was using more critically, I decided I could do better than Whitehead’s oft-quoted remark about western philosophy and footnotes to Plato. I want Plato and Socrates to matter today, not just because they are the patriarchs of the western philosophical tradition but because I believe that this legacy offers an inspirational model for living in our rather troubled times.

Cornel West certainly believes this is the case. In 2004, he wrote Democracy Matters, a sequel to his now classic Race Matters published in 1994. West argues that there has been a decline in civil democratic space and civic engagement aimed at mutual good. He maintains that “a narrow rant against the new imperialism or emerging plutocracy is not enough. Instead we must dip deep into often-untapped wells of our democratic tradition to fight the imperialist strain and plutocratic impulse in American life.”[i] He isolates three main threats to our democratic lives, “the dogma of free market fundamentalism, aggressive militarism, and escalating authoritarianism.” Throughout this book, West vividly describes the dark underbelly of violence that pervades America’s cultural history. He argues that we must find resources to expose our collective denial about the harm that our unreflective commitment to these three modes of engagement causes both individually and collectively. West locates three aspects of our democratic tradition that we must revive: a commitment to Socratic questioning and plain speaking (parrehesia), the prophetic voice from the Hebraic and Christian tradition, and the tragic comic commitment to hope as seen in the struggles to overcome racial oppression.

As I was reading West’s description of these communal resources, it struck me how BIC-ish it was. Throughout the four years of the BIC, we read and discuss works from each of these strains of our intellectual heritage.

I also realized that my work as a Plato scholar (alongside my interest in Platonic Narrative) could move into this conversation as well . So, I decided to do what all academics do: write an academic paper about it. Here’s a paragraph from the opening.

Given the current crisis of our nation, one even more critical than when West published Democracy Matters twelve years ago, I would like to take up the first of West’s remedies for our social crisis: a commitment to the Socratic art of plain speaking. To this end, I place Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me in conversation with West and with Plato’s presentation of Socrates in the Apology. I regard Coates as a contemporary American Socratic that the philosophical community should rigorously engage as a philosophical interlocutor, much in the way that thinkers like Cornel West have shaped the philosophical discussions on race. Further, Coates is an eloquent writer. In many ways this work functions as a Platonic dialogue does, leading readers through a process of engaged argument, reassessment and aporia, toward a refined understanding of the issues at hand. In addition, Coates’s position as a public intellectual offers a model of how philosophers might do more to engage the world outside the halls of the academy. His work should motivate us to enter the agora as Socrates did in his own world, a world shaped by a democracy in crisis.

May each of you find ways to continue to live out the examined life in your lives.

Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

[i] West, Cornel. Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (p. 3). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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2016 Homecoming Speaker — Sabrina Neff

Each year the BIC invites an alum to return to campus for Homecoming and share a lecture with our students, faculty, and alumni. We are very excited that Sabrina Neff (’02), an attorney in Houston, Texas, will be our featured alumni speaker. We recently interviewed Ms. Neff to learn more about her journey since graduating from Baylor. We hope you enjoy the interview, and we hope you join us for her lecture on October 14 at 2:30 pm in Marrs McLean Science Building, room 101. Ms. Neff will speak on the topic “Bursting the Baylor Bubble: Creating a Climate of  Meaningful Self-Critique.”

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sabrinaneff0535bwsWhat year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts.  I was a Political Science major and Philosophy minor. In 2004, I earned a Master of Arts degree in Church-State Studies from Baylor.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am a consumer finance litigation attorney in Houston, Texas.  I love how my role challenges me to constantly learn.  My specific field has rapidly changed in the past five years and there are significant developments on at least a monthly basis that affect how my clients do business.  If you actually enjoy learning, become a lawyer.  The practice of law is also one big opportunity to utilize people skills.  I am outgoing and relish getting to know other people.  These skills are celebrated in my profession.  Most of all, I am a true believer in the importance of the rule of law.  Lawyers are who society entrusts as keepers of the law—both upholding the good laws and fighting to change the bad laws.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

There are two important ways I was influenced by my BIC education.  First, BIC taught me to be skeptical of oversimplification.  Our BIC coursework required that we view the world for the multi-dimensional conglomerate that it is.  My BIC education made me unafraid to challenge oversimplification whenever I encounter it.  It also created an awareness of my own myopia; if I think a situation is clear-cut, then I probably need to ask for some perspective.

Second, BIC made me unafraid to admit that I’m not the smartest person in the room.  I should note that my fellow BIC students were ridiculously smart.  After faking it for a semester, I gradually learned that there was no shame in admitting when I didn’t know something.  I learned to use it as an opportunity to be taught, rather than be embarrassed.  In my current life, I try not to pass up similar opportunities in the hopes that some brave soul will enlighten me.  And people feel invested when they teach someone; it is one of the most effective ways to transform a detractor into your champion.

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

Without hesitation—Myers Briggs.  We took countless personality tests our first year, but I will never forget the Myers Briggs test and the way we met as an entire class to acknowledge, learn about, and celebrate each personality type.  BIC helped me to become comfortable with the way I am wired.  Years (and many retests) later, I am still decidedly an ENTJ.  Know thyself.

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

I have far too many great memories to count, but a standout memory would be my time on the BIC Leadership Council.  I was appointed to the inaugural Council in 1998 and served all four years.  Lenore Wright and Kirsten Escobar were the faculty advisors.  I’m certain we planned great events and organized service projects and designed t-shirts.  But mostly I just remember how much fun we all had.  We could not have asked for better advisors than Lenore Wright and Kirsten Escobar—each are great scholars in their own regard and also completely relatable.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Take yourselves less seriously.

Make a few friends outside of BIC.

And sophomore year, when you think you’re able to slack off on reading, don’t do it.  You will regret it.  BIG TIME.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Selectively reread your BIC books again after college.  I reread Metaphors We Live By, by Lakoff and Johnson, while stuck for 14 hours in hurricane evacuation traffic.  It absolutely revolutionized the way I think about words and language.  I did not really process the message of that book as a freshman.  It turned my world upside down as a law student.  Much as the literature you read in high school will speak to you differently as an adult, open yourself to the possibility that the BIC reading list has treasures yet undiscovered.

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Interviews, Homecoming | Comments Off on 2016 Homecoming Speaker — Sabrina Neff