More about the BIC

Pursuing the Examined Life

In the fall of 1995 Baylor University began offering a new option for the general education requirements of all undergraduate degree programs. The Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC) integrates the various academic disciplines into five sequences of courses called The Examined Life, World Cultures, The World of Rhetoric, Social World, and Natural World. Through these course sequences, students complete general education requirements in freshman composition, British, American, and World literature survey, religion, fine arts, introductory social science (e.g., sociology), BA-level laboratory science (e.g., biology), and human performance (our fancy word for physical education). Thus, BIC students do not follow the traditional route for completing their general studies requirements; they take the BIC course sequences in place of regular general studies courses. The BIC curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, active learning, the close reading of primary sources, writing and speaking skills, and the development of a global perspective. Central to the curriculum is a common core of forty-four semester hours of courses that are designed for every degree program in each of the University's undergraduate schools.

Foremost, the sequences provide COHERENCE to learning. In the World Cultures sequence, for example, students begin with the dawn of civilization and work chronologically through the ages to study the culture of various peoples. This course sequence will progress through to the twenty-first century. Because our courses combine disciplines of study, students learn, for example, about medieval monarchies, conquests, and crusades at the same time that they learn about the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, the literary genius of Chaucer and Boccaccio, the spiritual quest of Augustine, and the age of exploration. In essence, the connections among history, literature, art, religion, philosophy, economics, and music are integrated into each World Cultures course; you are not left trying to make these connections on your own.

Too often, students wonder why they are completing general education courses. The BIC course sequences provide students with a true sense of PURPOSE for their studies. Courses in the BIC build upon one another. They share thematic links and thoughtfully consider the relevance of knowledge to "real life." Examined Life I, for example, pursues the topic of healthy conflict resolution as part of a human being's social wellness--a topic that World of Rhetoric I explores through a study of Sophocles, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Martin Luther King, Jr. This approach allows you to experience and analyze first-hand the original texts and intellectual tradition that has shaped our modern consciousness.

This emphasis on primary texts necessarily shapes the BIC classroom. BIC courses minimize lecture in favor of discussion, allowing you to be an active and vocal participant in your education. Our pedagogy privileges analysis over memorization and affirms an earnest exchange of ideas among students and with our faculty who, by and large, team-teach their courses. The BIC teaching environment cultivates an enlarged PERSPECTIVE of the world by nurturing students' intellectual curiosity and by exposing them to exemplary faculty from diverse academic disciplines who make connections among multiple domains of knowledge. With pre-medical preparation, a major in Bioinformatics, or the pre-business core, you may find it difficult to take courses in interests that lie outside of your degree plan; in the BIC, you gain exposure to areas of study from schools and departments as diverse as History, Information Systems, Nursing, Economics, Church-State Studies, English, Modern Foreign Languages, Classics, Political Science, Environmental Studies, Educational Psychology, Geology, and Physics.

The BIC also fosters students' sense of and commitment to COMMUNITY. Our students progress through their BIC program as a class; hence, they develop meaningful relationships with both their peers and faculty. Further, our students enjoy a classroom that is comprised of students at the same stage in the college experience: first-year students learn with first-year students, not seniors. As students learn to improve their critical thinking skills as well as their ability to communicate effectively, they do so with colleagues with whom they will learn, laugh, and collaborate for four years. Moreover, they discover new avenues of learning and service together as they study non-Western cultures--a key feature of the BIC curriculum--and reach outside of the University to the wider Waco community through volunteerism.

This CONNECTION to the outside or "real" world is central to the BIC. The program cultivates a global perspective in students and works to prepare them for post-baccalaureate study and/or the job market. Fundamental to this aim is the use of cutting-edge technology as a tool for learning. This component of the BIC program utilizes the Internet to integrate content beyond the classroom. Students access their course materials and program information from the University's online course management system, Blackboard. Students complete online journals, conduct Web research for course term papers and projects, participate in threaded discussions, and produce PowerPoint / Prezi presentations as part of their BIC learning experience. The Core endeavors to expose and educate students in professional technology in order to enrich their University experience while preparing them for their future.

If you desire coherence to your education, purpose in your studies, expansion of your perspective, a sense of community, and connection between the classroom and the world, then you should apply to the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. Click on the BIC Admissions link to the left to apply.