Message from the Director Emeritus

In the European Middle Ages, universities such as Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge established the notion of general education. Before one could study law, medicine, or theology, one had to complete the studium generale. The courses included grammar, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and music. We recognize in this model the roots of our contemporary colleges of arts and sciences and professional programs or schools. The courses and disciplines expanded over the years, but for almost 800 years, the model served society well.

Today, however, general education often does not live up to the old ideal. Many colleges and universities abandoned required courses in the turbulent 1960s. The pressures of the job market later compelled many students to think that only that part of education that resulted in directly marketable skills made sense. Even where required courses remained (such as at Baylor), the proliferation of options for fulfilling the requirements meant that students took such a wide assortment of courses that they often could not talk among themselves about a common cultural inheritance.

The BIC began in 1995 as an effort to give students an opportunity for a truly integrated and shared experience in general education. BIC emphasizes active learning and primary texts. By reading the same texts and engaging in the same activities, students have the basis for the kind of exchanges that Socrates long ago thought was the essence of the life of the mind. The genius of the university historically is that not only does it train people for the world of work but that it also gives them access to the greatest inheritance of human beings. That is the inheritance of the culture and intellectual achievements of generations past as well as present. The rapidly changing world of the early 21st century makes the passing of that inheritance more challenging. So we use the latest methods and machines available to us in this digital age.

BIC, after sixteen years, is on track and flourishing. Join us for a challenging intellectual and spiritual journey.

David W. Hendon, Ph.D.
Director Emeritus, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core