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Institute Happenings

Graduate Programs in Church-State Studies to be Gradually Phased Out

After much careful deliberation, the decision has been reached to gradually phase out the graduate programs offered in the field of church-state studies over the next few years. All currently-enrolled students will be allowed to complete their degrees and to do so without any loss of support or institutional resources. Beginning immediately, however, no new students will be admitted into the program and the program will be phased out.

This decision in no way signals a loss of commitment on the part of Baylor University to the study of church-state relations or the mission of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies." That mission, "to promote research, scholarship, and understanding of issues pertaining to religious liberty and the separation of church and state," will continue to guide the Institute in its work, including through teaching by Institute faculty, publication of the Journal of Church & State, and the maintenance of world-class research facilities.

Dr. Larry Lyon, Dean of the Graduate School noted that "the field of church-state studies had always been at the forefront of graduate study at Baylor University. The M.A. and Ph.D. in Church-State Studies were each among the first master's and doctoral degrees, respectively, offered by Baylor University. When they were launched, the intention was to bring faculty from various departments together to establish a 'critical mass‘ of scholar-teachers who could guide graduate students in their research. Over the years, the Institute as well as the departments from which it drew upon has grown, reaching the point where today issues related to religious liberty and church-state relations are taught and researched from various disciplinary perspectives among several departments at Baylor, including political science, sociology, history, religion, and philosophy."

It is the hope of all in the Institute as well as the administration and graduate school that these changes will in fact lead to greater research in the field of church-state studies across Baylor's campus. This has been the mission of the Institute, after all, since its founding more than fifty years ago, and our commitment to that mission remains strong today and will continue in the future."