Celebrating 25 Years of BIC
Baylor's commitment to a transformational undergraduate education means providing many academic options. Among them is one located under the umbrella of the Honors College that stands apart due to its focus on intentionally stitching together the disparate threads of a student’s core classes and their chosen discipline. This program is the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC) and is constructed to provide a comprehensive, coherent, interdisciplinary education that helps students see connections between fields of study that are sometimes obscured by disciplinary boundaries.
Now entering its 25th year, the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core offers an alternative general education core curriculum to students that is by design intended to be interconnected, globally engaged and oriented around primary texts.
Douglas Henry, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College, is a major proponent of interdisciplinary education as a means of enriching student experience.
“Life is not divided up into neat and tidy compartments. We don’t live in a world in which one profession or one field or one discipline is hermetically sealed off from everything,” Henry said. “We live as human beings whose lives are capacious, whose lives encompass all kinds of different areas and concerns. We do our students a great, great service when we expose them as part of their education to interdisciplinary conversations.”
Each year, the BIC welcomes a cohort of approximately 200 new students; the fall 2020 cohort was the largest yet. The BIC is designed for students to work their way through their courses together as a cohort. They read the same texts together, develop a shared vocabulary and work with the same network of professors. Each course is built upon either what students will be studying next or what they have previously read and studied.
With this approach, BIC professors are able to connect the core curriculum with a student’s personal field of study and highlight the cohort’s common educational experience to help develop authentic community among the students. Anne-Marie Schultz, Ph.D., professor and BIC director, noted firsthand the value of a BIC community.
“It’s palpably different, when you show up as a teacher to a BIC classroom,” Schultz said. “There’s almost an immediate rapport between the students, they know each other, you don’t have to spend a lot of your pedagogical time and energy creating that community from a disparate set of students. It’s really already there. It’s very freeing to teach and it’s a lot of fun.”
Over the past quarter century, the BIC has generated a record of accomplishment and a set of educational outcomes that continue to help shape how students are taught in the Honors College and across the University. The program is an effective testing ground for evaluating teaching techniques and program structure, which yields best practices that are incorporated into the rest of the University’s curriculum.