A New Kind of Teaching and Learning

Following an animated response from faculty and staff across the university, the Baylor Social Innovation Collaborative (BAY-SIC) is set to launch a diverse array of transdisciplinary projects that aim to discover and develop new ways of promoting hope and human flourishing. Because our most important problems are not reducible to any one discipline or field, and because we operate in a world in which challenges are less foreseeable and knowledge less reliable, embedded in many of these projects is an effort to design new models for collaborative teaching and learning across our 12 colleges and schools.

This fall we will launch five new “social innovation labs,” courses that promote a new way of doing business by assembling diverse groups of faculty, staff, and students to work together with community partners—both local and global—on wicked problems and generative solutions. Below are brief synopses of our first five “labs,” and additional information can be found on the BAY-SIC webpage. General questions about BAY-SIC and the social innovation labs can be directed to Andy Hogue, with questions about specific courses addressed to the contact person listed in each description.

Campus Hunger: Students, Systems, and Solutions

Despite the perceived affluence of higher education, a greater percentage of college students struggle to pay for food than in the general population. How might hunger affect the college experience, and what can be done about it? Through this course, students will begin to understand the complexities surrounding food and hunger in society and then explore their roles in higher education settings. Students will also design and carry out research-based responses to campus hunger.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Nathan Alleman: nathan_alleman@baylor.edu

Child Migration in the Western Hemisphere

This social innovation lab explores the causes, characteristics, and consequences of the migration of children from Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras). The course aims to build collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams, which will examine particular aspects of the crisis and develop interventions to aid these migrants and prevent future child migration.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Victor Hinojosa: victor_hinojosa@baylor.edu

Healthy River, Healthy Community

On a national and global scale, water is inextricably linked to critical social issues such as energy use, health and human development, poverty, food scarcity, and environmental degradation. Through this course, students will explore local water issues as a model for better understanding global water issues. Students will delve into the complexity of this growing global issue through first-hand experiences, including a river trip, field-based activities, and studying museum natural history collections.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Suzanne Nesmith: suzanne_nesmith@baylor.edu

Combatting Human Trafficking

This course will involve the examination of contemporary human trafficking issues and modern day slavery through an interdisciplinary lens. Students will analyze systemic intersections that create the environments which perpetuate social inequalities, while also constructing innovative strategies that dismantle and disrupt systems of oppression.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Elizabeth Goatley: elizabeth_goatley@baylor.edu

Social Innovation with At Risk Older Adults

At risk older persons fill the hidden corridors of Waco, and they live in the crucible of increasing economic, health care, and community service scarcity. This course aims to address impoverishment and isolation by working with vulnerable older persons in Waco and the surrounding area using interdisciplinary knowledge, research, and practice through engaging with local agencies and community partners.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Dennis Myers: dennis_myers@baylor.edu



Baylor Psychology Professor Awarded Godin Prize

The International Association for the Psychology of Religion (IAPR) jury announced the winner of the IAPR 2017 Godin prize: Wade Rowatt, professor at Baylor University. The Godin prize is awarded once every four years to recognize senior scholars for their excellence in the scientific study of the psychology of religion. 

Wade Rowatt completed his Ph.D. in experimental psychology (social-personality specialization) at the University of Louisville (1997) and his B.A. in psychology and philosophy at William Jewell College (1991). Throughout his research and academic career, he has been focused almost exclusively on psychology of religion. With his students and collaborators, he has developed an important research program on religion and prejudice that advanced much further, both theoretically and methodologically, our knowledge on a topic that is both classic for the field and socially important today. He has also previous and ongoing work on the psychology of humility. Overall, this work led to more than 50 publications, in journals and books in both psychology of religion and personality/social psychology; these publications have been highly cited. Finally, Dr. Rowatt has been a mentor of several Ph.D. students who continue to serve the field today as academic faculty (in 2014, he thus received the Mentoring Award of APA Division 36). He has also served the field and the community by assuming several responsibilities: founder and chair for many years of the Psychology of religion and spirituality preconference at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention, as well as associate editor of the Archives for Psychology of Religion (2012-2016) and The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion (since 2017).

Dr. Rowatt will attend the next IAPR conference at Hamar and deliver a keynote speech on his work. Congratulations, Dr. Wade Rowatt!


Truett Sports Ministry and the Legacy of Eric Liddell

In late February, Baylor’s Truett Seminary hosted advanced screenings of the film “On Wings of Eagles,” starring Joseph Fiennes and Shawn Dou; directed by Stephen Shin; co-directed by Michael Parker; and produced by Jim Green and Mark Bacino. Based on the life of Olympic runner and missionary Eric Liddell and continuing the story of the Academy Award-winning film “Chariots of Fire,” the film focuses on Liddell during his time as a missionary in China and when he was being held in a Japanese labor camp. These special events were hosted by Dr. John and Mrs. Cindy White and the Truett Sports Ministry Program. John and Cindy enjoy a special relationship with the Liddell family and are now in the planning stages of launching the Eric Liddell Institute to be housed at Truett.

Scene from “On Wings of Eagles”
Scene from “On Wings of Eagles”

Baylor Football Teams Up with the Texas Hunger Initiative

The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) at Baylor University works with school districts, like La Vega ISD, and communities across the state to improve participation in school breakfast through innovative alternative service models, like “Breakfast in the Classroom” and “Grab and Go.” Yesterday, March 14, representatives from the Baylor football program, including players Grayland Arnold (#4), Jamie Jacobs (#43), and Jonathan Hockman (#24), as well as Ryan Kelly, an administrator in the football program, joined students at La Vega Elementary to promote the importance of school breakfast and to encourage students to participate. Dave Thiel, Director of Child Nutrition for La Vega ISD described the important work of THI and the Baylor football program: “It is exciting for a first, second, or third grader to see some local sports figures – successful students that are proven athletes and who have proven that they’re doing great academically. They’re great role models in the community. We always appreciate it when Baylor supports us and comes out, and the Texas Hunger Initiative has been a really good supporter of our program here at La Vega, in many different ways.”

In a state where more than 1 in 4 children are food insecure, the public school system continues to grow as a primary infrastructure for addressing childhood hunger. Participation in school breakfast has been associated with decreased tardiness and absences and better school performance, attention, and behavior. More Texas students than ever are starting their school days fueled for success, especially students who might not have regular access to food at home. As a current student-athlete who benefited from school breakfast as a child, Jonathan Hockman reflected about his experience volunteering: “It’s important to keep perspective, because football, at the end of the day, is just a game. It’s really about who you reach through football. These kids look up to us, and it’s important that we can maintain that outreach and perspective of giving back to the community and back to others, and I’m happy and blessed to be able to do this.”

THI’s innovative model addresses food insecurity at all levels – local, state, and federal – by organizing systems and helping people work together to create more efficient and effective programs and policies that reduce hunger in Texas. Thanks to the efforts of numerous partners, including the Baylor football program, every day we get closer to our goal of ending hunger and setting up children for the wellness and success every child deserves.

Collaboration and Exploration in South Texas

With the logistical, financial, and planning support of Baylor Missions, three faculty members took a unique team of engineering and social work students to Laredo, Texas during Spring Break. Professors Jill Klentzman and Brian Thomas from the School of Engineering and Computer Science as well as Professor Jennifer Dickey from the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work traveled to the small colonia community of Las Lomas outside of Laredo to support a church with its needs. Social work students collaborated with the community members, assessing for community strengths and priorities for change. They drafted an asset-based assessment for the Holding Institute, an agency that serves the needs of immigrants and Cubano refugees on the border. Building on their work in Las Lomas from July 2016, the engineering students worked towards developing two water wells to assist the church and community with its water access problems.

While their service activities during the day were discipline-specific, the evenings included cross-disciplinary discussions and activities to foster understanding and mutual respect between the diverse student groups. The plights, stories, and needs of forced migrants were explored from the dual lenses of social services and infrastructure. Professor Thomas reported, “The opportunity to work together on a real project that benefits real people has helped some students confirm in their own minds that engineering is what they want to do with their lives. For others, the main benefit was experiencing close community with our engineering team and the social work team, as well as developing relationships with the community members and the faculty. When faculty members get to be practitioners alongside students, a whole new type of learning occurs.” A Baylor freshman, Ben Phillips, was enthusiastic about his experience in Las Lomas: “I think this week was one of the best weeks of my life. I felt like I was able to contribute to the project and actually impact people’s lives through the work done. I would love to do this kind of work for the rest of my life. There are ways God has blessed me (time, finance, knowledge, skills) that I can use to improve other people’s lives, and I feel so blessed through giving.”

Working side by side with community members to install a solar pump on last year’s water well.

Baylor Libraries Preserve Black Gospel Music

Since 2007, Darryl Stuhr, associate director for digital projects in the Baylor Libraries, and his team of specialists have worked with Professor Bob Darden on the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. This initiative, which began with an op-ed in the New York Times by Darden in 2005, now boasts over 5,000 black gospel music recordings digitized with thousands of songs available to the public online.

The Baylor Libraries’ digital preservation efforts caught the eye of Dr. Dwandalyn Reece, curator of music and performing arts for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. When its doors opened last year, digital tracks from the Baylor Libraries’ collection were featured in a standing exhibit. As thousands pour through the doors each day, they experience the rich, cultural heritage of the black gospel tradition and directly engage with Darden’s passion and the work of the Baylor digital projects 1,500 miles away.

Sound engineer Stephen Bolech works to preserve a vital part of America’s cultural heritage.

Based on this success, Darden and the Baylor Libraries recently partnered with KWBU 103.3 FM, our local NPR affiliate, to record a series of brief historical vignettes that highlight different dimensions of the black gospel music tradition. These two-minute segments not only air locally on KWBU 103.3 FM, but have also been picked up by NPR stations across the nation. Darden continues to mine the Baylor Libraries’ digital collection for music and, more importantly, the stories behind the music, to share with the NPR audience. “It is inspiring to see how Professor Darden’s passion for the black gospel music tradition has resulted not only in the preservation of this vital dimension of our culture, but also an outpouring of engagement with these treasures,” said Pattie Orr, Vice President for Information Technology and Dean of University Libraries. “The Libraries, through our Riley Digitization Center, are proud to be a partner with Darden in this important work.”

Knowing the details of our history is essential to understanding contemporary society. The gospel music tradition holds the keys to everything from contemporary rock, R&B, hip-hop, soul, and other contemporary musical forms. Darden and the Baylor Libraries bring this to light with each track digitized and every episode of SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments that airs.

Nursing School Helping Babies Breathe

Globally, close to a million babies die within the first week of life from simple and preventable breathing issues, known as birth asphyxia. Many infants would respond to resuscitative measures if this lack of oxygen during late-term labor were recognized. To ameliorate this problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization have collaborated to develop Helping Babies Breathe, a program to prepare nurses, midwives, and skilled birth attendants with simple yet lifesaving skills.

Teaching “Helping Babies Breathe” in Rural India

With the help of a BU Missions research grant, the support of Dean Shelley Conroy, and the leadership of Dr. Lori Spies and Dr. Cheryl Riley, nurses from Baylor University’s School of Nursing have and are continuing to initiate sustainable culturally congruent initiatives by working with global agencies and existing well-established regional partners in Ethiopia, India, Vietnam, and Zambia. LHSON nurses provide Helping Babies Breathe workshops and equip partners with the necessary tools to help babies breathe. Conducting Helping Babies Breathe workshops to APNs, nurses, midwives, and traditional birth attendants can increase workforce capacity and provide training for basic newborn care in vulnerable populations. Incorporating the Helping Babies Breathe program into existing research, clinical courses, and service learning global endeavors led by Advanced Practice Nurses can significantly contribute to decreased infant mortality.

Teaching “Helping Babies Breathe” in Rural Ethiopia

An inspiring example from LHSON serves as a testament to the immense benefits of Helping Babies Breathe: after teaching in Langano, Ethiopia, an LHSON team traveled to remote Makki to teach Helping Babies Breathe. While the LHSON team was gone, a woman who was pregnant with twins and had placenta previa went into labor early at the Langano clinic. The first twin was born, and the woman was bleeding profusely. Nurses at the Langano clinic loaded her into the clinic van/ambulance and headed to the nearest hospital. The first hospital turned them away, so they headed to the second hospital, which meant 2-3 hours of driving. Meanwhile, the second twin was born blue and floppy. While a nurse worked to save the mother’s life, the clinic assistant/translator, who had attended LHSON’s Helping Babies Breathe course, was handed the second baby and immediately knew what to do. After performing the actions he had learned during training, the baby cried; the mother and her two children survived. Our Ethiopian colleagues attributed this baby’s survival to the LHSON team having taught the Helping Babies Breathe course.

BU CyberSecurity Student Organization Advances in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

The Baylor Cyber team participated in the Southwest Regional qualifying round for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) the weekend of February 18. Collegiate-level cyber defense teams from across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas competed in a four-hour event to determine who would advance to the regional finals in Tulsa, OK.  The Baylor CyberSecurity team, coached by Baylor faculty members Matt Pirko (Management Information Systems), Jeff Donahoo (Computer Science), and Randall Vaughn (Management Information Systems), finished as one of the top 8 teams in the region, beating powerhouses like UNT, U of Houston, UT Austin, UT Arlington, and others. As a top team, Baylor will advance to the next round of competition in mid-March. As seen in recent news reports, cyber attacks are increasing in number and complexity. The cyber defense skills learned and employed by the team are vital to the protection of critical information technology infrastructures for both businesses and the community at large. During the NCCDC competitions, teams of students representing their university test their cybersecurity skills by defending a commercial network against attacks by a “red team” of professional hackers. Teams are scored on their ability to minimize system infiltration, keep critical services in operation, and prevent exfiltration of sensitive data.

Baylor and Waco from Space

R. Shane Kimbrough
(Col., U.S. Army, Ret.)
NASA Astronaut

NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who is the current commander of the International Space Station (ISS), recently took photos of Waco from aboard the ISS. Even though Kimbrough has not been on Earth since October 19, 2016, when he and two other astronauts were transported to the ISS as part of Expedition 49/50, his connections to Texas run deep: Kimbrough was born in nearby Killeen, Texas, and he now has a child at Baylor. His photos of Waco from space illumine both the wonder and breadth of God’s Creation and the intimacy of personal relationships in our small corner of the world. Kimbrough regularly posts awe-inspiring photos taken from the International Space Station on his Twitter. Kimbrough is expected to return to Earth April 10, 2017.

Psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Photo of Waco taken from the International Space Station
Baylor University Campus, as seen from the International Space Station

Baylor Student Finds Renewed Hope through Christian Friendship

“When I lost my boyfriend August 4, 2016, I stepped back and reevaluated where my time is going, what my priorities are, what I’m studying in school, my career path, and I thought, ‘What’s important?’ Loving people is important.” Lauren Rosen transferred to Baylor shortly after her long-time boyfriend, Baylor student Jared Frame, died from complications of an unexpected illness. As she became part of the Baylor family, she reflected on the best ways to build community and strengthen relationships, and she shared some of this journey with us:

Instead of following the more traditional route of joining various clubs, teams, and Greek Life, Lauren decided to commit to reaching out consistently to both old and new friends by scheduling significant time on her calendar each week for developing relationships. “I’m good at one-on-one very personal interactions, and I didn’t think organizations were a good way for me to carry that out. I have found that through blocking out time for others I’ve been able to reach out to people who were struggling and be the person who is consistently there. I’ve also been able to see what somebody is doing really well and recognize that they need to be celebrated for it, and I have time – so we go out and get ice cream or whatever it may be. That’s been the way I’ve gotten involved. It’s not technically an organization but I kind of think of it that way – of investing time in people on a very personal level instead of a large scale in the community.”

Through these experiences, Lauren has learned about the value of reciprocity in relationships: “I had never thought of what it might be like to speak to somebody whom you didn’t know much about, and so I had underestimated the importance of sharing about myself and being vulnerable to the people from whom I was hoping for vulnerability. So if someone were planning to follow a similar path to mine, I would encourage him or her to be prepared to be vulnerable. That increases the depth of the relationships really quickly.”

Despite Lauren’s apparent wisdom and earnestness, this journey hasn’t always been easy: “The thing that has been a struggle is wondering, ‘Am I missing out? Am I doing something wrong?’ But then I look at why people choose to join [Greek Life and other organizations]: community and relationships. And I’m accomplishing the same goal in a way that fits me best, so it’s a decision I’ve stood by and really benefitted from.”