Meet Our Students
John Barrett is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Dallas Baptist University. He is currently working on a PhD. in Religion, Politics and Society with a research emphasis on the role evangelical missions play in international relations.
Previously, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Master's Degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University: School of International Studies (SAIS). He also currently serves as a Director of Research at Parks Associates, a market research firm focused on technology-driven products and services.
Jason A. Hines
Jason Hines is a Ph.D. Candidate in Church-State Studies. Jason received a B.A. in Political science from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. After a five year career as a commercial litigator in Philadelphia, Jason decided to study questions of religious liberty and constitutional law in the American context. His dissertation will discuss the political activities of Christian church institutions in the light of the religious history of church-state separation.
Jason is also involved in several blogs devoted to religious and church-state questions. He is a columnist for the blog for Spectrum Magazine and is an associate editor for ReligiousLiberty.tv. He also maintains his own blog, HineSight, where he talks about religion, church-state issues, politics, and the occasional post pertaining to his beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Jason and his wife Lilly (who is also an attorney) reside in Waco.
Jennifer Kent is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion, Politics and Society. She was awarded her MA in Church-State Studies from the Dawson Institute in May of 2008 after successfully defending her thesis under the direction of Institute Director Dr. Christopher Marsh. Her academic interests include the intersection between international relations and world religions, and as such she wrote a thesis entitled "Defying Boundaries: The Challenge of Transnational Religion to International Relations." In the Fall of 2007 Jennifer was awarded the Julia and Finlay Graham Writing Excellence Award and presented a professional paper co-authored with Dr. Daniel Payne at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture's Annual Fall Conference.
Prior to her studies at Baylor, Jennifer received her B.A. in Politics, with a minor in Religion, from the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. During her undergraduate studies she contributed to the wealth of free labor in the nation's capitol by interning at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. While studying abroad in Belgium she also interned at the European Parliament for British MEP Liz Lynne.
Jennifer splits her time between enjoying Taco Tuesdays in Waco and hanging out with her husband and puppy in Dallas. A Philadelphia-area native, she loves football season, when she gets to root on the Birds.
Brenda J. Norton
Brenda J. Norton is a practicing civil appellate attorney. She also holds a Master of Theology from Southern Methodist University. Her interest is the intersection of law, politics, and religion in the US and internationally. She is currently working on projects of comparative law and politics, and multiculturalism in the US, Canada, and EU. Her dissertation will be a comparative study of US, France, and Netherlands recent alterations to law and policy in response to Muslim women's religious dress.
Mihai Tarta is a PhD student in Religion, Politics, and Society. Before coming to Baylor he obtained his licenta (equivalent of BA) diploma in philosophy at the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, with a paper on aesthetics. He then pursued his interest in religion as an MA student in Philosophy and Communication at the same university and obtained the MA degree in 2005 with a dissertation on civil religion in the United States. That same year he followed his interest in politics and sociology, moving to Warsaw, Poland, where he took a second MA in Society and Politics at the Center for Social Studies, an institution affiliated with Lancaster University in the UK. He completed this degree with a paper on the identity crisis of one of the former USSR republics. He is now interested in the interaction of religion, politics, and society.
Aaron is a doctoral candidate in the Religion, Politics, and Society program. Before coming to Baylor, Aaron received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religion from the University of Georgia. Upon graduation, Aaron interned with civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta, Georgia. Aaron later completed an additional internship with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington D.C.
Aaron was awarded the Master of Arts in Church-State Studies from the J.M. Dawson Institute in August 2008. Under the supervision of Dr. Barry Hankins, he successfully defended his thesis titled "James Dunn and Soul Freedom: A Baptist Paradigm for Political Engagement in the Public Arena." Aaron's primary research interests include Baptist history, evangelicals, mainline Protestants and the relationship between the role of religion in American politics.
Aaron is the author of one book - James M. Dunn and Soul Freedom (Smyth & Helwys, 2011) and five peer-reviewed journal articles. He also regularly contributes to a number of popular Baptist periodicals and news outlets including Baptists Today, Associated Baptist Press and the Baptist Studies Bulletin.
Aaron is currently hard at work on his dissertation which examines the competing environmentalisms of Southern Baptists and American Baptists over the past forty years.
When not "dissertating," Aaron can be found at Baylor's Academy for Teaching & Learning where he serves as a Graduate Fellow. Aaron and his wife Alexis reside in Waco with their infant son James Oliver and two Italian Greyhounds.
Miranda Zapor Cruz is a native of Colorado and holds a B.A. in Religion from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. She entered the doctoral program in Religion, Politics and Society in Fall 2010 and her interests include religion and nationalism, the church under communism in Eastern Europe, secularism, and war and Christian conscience. Her dissertation will focus on the relationship between the Lithuanian Catholic Church and the Sajudis movement for Lithuanian independence. Miranda hopes to teach undergraduate courses in religion, history, or Baltic and Eastern European studies. When not working, learning Russian and Lithuanian, researching or writing, Miranda enjoys running, being involved at church, and traveling to presidential libraries and obscure museums.