Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

March 27, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Scholars Week Preview: Baylor student steps outside of the classroom to take a deeper look at Job

This is the third in a series of Scholars Week preview articles by Caleb Barfield, a student worker in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  Caleb is a freshman from Denton majoring in journalism, new media and public relations.

Click here to check out more previews of the great research Baylor students will present at URSA Scholars Week 2014, March 31-April 4.

Questions surrounding the existence of suffering and pain in the world have plagued philosophers and scholars for generations. Although many of these questions will never have definitive answers, many philosophers and scholars look to religious texts for guidance.

Katherine Ellis will present her research on the Book of Job at URSA Scholars Week. Photo by Caleb Barfield.

Katherine Ellis will present her research on the Book of Job at URSA Scholars Week. Photo by Caleb Barfield.

Katherine Ellis, a junior religion major, has followed their example in her investigation into the Divine Speeches found in the Book of Job.

“I have always been fascinated with the Book of Job,” Ellis said. “The questions it raises and topics it brings up intrigue me, such as theodicy, suffering and how humanity and God meet in those moments. After studying the Book of Job in Dr. Bellinger’s class, I wanted to understand the book at a deeper level, and I became interested specifically in the Divine Speeches (Yahweh Speeches), which record God’s response to Job and come near the close of the book in chapters 38-41.”

The project started as a class assignment for Ellis and turned into something far greater once Dr. Bill Bellinger, professor and chair of the religion department, took notice of the insightfulness of her research paper.

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May 14, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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University Research Committee announces recipients of FY 2014 small and mid-range grants

The OVPR and the University Research Committee are proud to announce the results of the 2014 URC Small and Mid-Range Grant Programs.  These grants are intended to expand Baylor faculty members’ research capacity by providing support for research or creative activities in any academic area.

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April 15, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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Undergraduate’s research helps churches minister to their communities during major international events

Austin Tiffany takes a break from his research to pose in front of a clock showing the official countdown to the beginning of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

When we think of large, international sporting events like the Olympic Games or soccer’s World Cup, we tend to think of the pageantry of opening ceremonies and the lofty ideal of people from around the world brought together for peaceful competition.

While events like these can promote worldwide friendship through sports, Austin Tiffany, a junior religion major from Amarillo, Texas, says that they can also create problems for people who live in the host communities, particularly the poor or elderly.

“The Olympics aren’t as much of a windfall as some people expected,” he says.  “The traffic congestion, disruption of public transportation and difficulty of accessing social services made it hard for some people to get along with their lives.”

Under the mentorship of Dr. John White, an assistant professor at Truett Seminary and director of the sports ministry program, Tiffany conducted research this past summer in London aimed at learning more about the ways local churches were helping those in their communities.  As part of his research, he attended civic meetings and conducted interviews with community members and religious leaders in areas that were impacted by the Olympics.  His research was funded in part by a grant from the Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Achievement Small Grants Program.

While some local church officials were opposed to the Olympics because of the impact on their parishioners, Tiffany found that many of them came up with ideas to provide help to those whose lives were disrupted.  Churches became involved in activities like serving meals, hosting community gatherings or helping the poor find work.

In addition to providing these services, Tiffany says churches can use their position to advocate for those who may be negatively impacted.

“Churches need to be able to put pressure on the Olympics to do good things for the poor in their host communities,” he says.  “Churches can act on a local level in a way that larger international organizations may not be able to.”

Tiffany presented the results of this project at URSA Scholars Week, but his work is far from over.  He will travel back to London this summer to carry out an internship with the Contextual Theology Center, an international religious organization that, among other goals, studies the use of sports to promote development and social justice.  After graduating from Baylor, he plans to pursue a seminary or divinity degree where he will continue to study practical ways churches can make a difference in their communities.

“I’ve always seen the Olympics as a symbol of something bigger and more important than just sports,” he says.  “This project gave me the opportunity to combine my interest in the Olympics with my desire to help the church improve its outreach.”