Ladies and Legos Encourages Women in STEM Fields

The “Ladies and Legos” program is a fun and casual way to bring together women at different stages of their academic and professional careers to talk about their experiences in the classroom and workplace. Many women in STEM fields do not have an arena to discuss the unique challenges women face in male-dominated industries. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Halliburton Foundation, Ladies and Legos offers opportunities to create dialogue, encourage gender diversity in the workforce, and empower women to succeed.

Ladies and Legos events typically involve small-group settings in which students create with Legos, an engineering-related toy primarily marketed toward males, while female leaders in STEM occupations lead discussions about their experiences in the workforce. On March 22, the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) partnered with Maker’s Edge in Waco to create a new Ladies and Legos event centered around building community and connections through hands-on “making” experiences including screen printing, soldering, vinyl cutting, and laser etching.

Women comprise about 23 percent of the nearly 1,200 undergraduates in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The hope is that programs like “Ladies and Legos” will stimulate community among ECS students, faculty, and women already in the STEM fields and attract more prospective students, ultimately increasing the number of women in technological industries. The final Ladies and Legos event this school year will be April 18th, featuring Dr. Michelle Hebl, our Cherry Award recipient and Professor of Psychology from Rice University. Contact Emily Sandvall, Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in ECS, for more information.

School of Education Launches Embedded Global Classroom

Janette Carpenter to establish the Carpenter Embedded Global Classroom, Baylor University’s first fully funded study-abroad embedded classroom. Through the Carpenter Embedded Global Classroom, School of Education students will participate firsthand in comparative education experiences in locations around the globe at no additional charge to the student. As school districts throughout Texas and the United States increasingly seek teachers with a broad cultural competency, the Carpenter Embedded Classroom will empower students to meet those needs.

Baylor School of Education Dean Michael McLendon (left) with Janette and Don Carpenter

“The School of Education is grateful for this generous and insightful investment in the lives of Baylor students by the Carpenter family,” said Michael K. McLendon, dean of the School of Education. “Their decision to support this expansion of social, economic, and policy perspectives for Baylor students through cross-cultural learning serves to highlight the value of this family as a true partner of Baylor University in pursuing its mission of educating men and women for worldwide service.” Carpenter Global Classroom experiences will be designed and selected with a goal of empowering students with both an enhanced understanding of education in other countries and a broader perspective of the uniqueness of the American educational system.

This spring, the inaugural Carpenter Embedded Classroom experience took place March 4-12, 2017, in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of the School of Education’s semester-long “Social Issues in Education” class, taught by School of Education professor Dr. Tony Talbert. Baylor’s partner in Queretaro is Monterrey Tec University, one of the most prestigious universities in Latin America. The March trip represents the first of many such partnerships that will open other opportunities to Baylor students throughout the Americas and around the globe. “As a teacher, you are often put into environments where you are serving students from different cultural backgrounds, or who are impoverished and disadvantaged for reasons not of their own making,” Don Carpenter said. “We wanted to extend these opportunities to Baylor students, because in so doing, you build empathy. As an educator, you give students the tools they need to learn and develop to their full potential. Through experiences in global classrooms, Baylor students can develop understanding and empathy to help them as they teach and influence students of their own throughout their careers.”

Baylor Law School Recognized for Strong Professional Development

The innovative Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program at Baylor University School of Law follows a nationwide trend of law schools focusing on developing students’ professional identities as lawyers. Baylor Law’s program has surpassed those at other Texas law schools and drawn national accolades. It broke new ground by offering students frequent professional development seminars—which closely resemble continuing legal education—presented by practicing lawyers on a wide variety of topics. Although students can pick and choose seminars to attend, it’s a mandatory requirement for graduation to log 18 hours spread out among the three years of law school.

Professional development seminars cover topics like law office management and organization; job searching and networking; the values of a lawyer and leadership; the ethical considerations of lawyering; and wellness, including the mental and physical health hazards of the profession. Administrators aim to offer 10 to 12 seminars each quarter, which breaks down to about one per week. After a seminar, students complete a feedback card and the school uses the data to plan future seminars. Jim Wren, a Baylor Law professor and chairman of its professional development committee, reported: “Depending on the program, we get all the way from rave reviews back to lukewarm or sometimes a critical review of a program. We listen to those and take them to heart. The more practical the program, usually the higher the rating for it.”

Baylor Law is not the only Texas law school interested in developing students professionally. But its program is unique because of its CLE-style model, its mandatory nature, and the fact that it spans all three years of law school. Baylor Law aims to produce professionals who are truly “practice ready” and prepared to succeed, and this program substantially furthers that goal.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:



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.