Theme 3: Strengthening Community Engagement

The College of Arts & Sciences reaffirms its historical commitment to addressing the challenges facing our local, national, and global communities. Our teaching, research, service, and creative performances facilitate the exchange of ideas, engender ethical leadership, foster an appreciation for artistic beauty, and improve the quality of life for our neighbors far and near. These facets, individually and collectively, are important for advancing Pro Futuris goals and for building the proposed Arts District, Clinical Health Sciences facility, and Baptist Studies Center for Research, each of which will benefit communities within and beyond the University.

Informed Engagement is inextricably linked to another aspirational statement of Pro Futuris, namely Transformational Education. Participating in educational and service activities that engage off-campus communities will transform our students even as they transform their world. Through the efforts of our students, staff, and faculty, Baylor will become increasingly recognized for addressing systemic local, national, and international problems. Inspired by our spiritual commitments, we will renew our resolve not only to improve the lives of those within our academic community but also to serve others.

One may think of Arts & Sciences as being at the center of three concentric circles that represent different communities (refer to Figure 3.1). The inner circle represents the individuals who are currently in closest proximity; that is, students, faculty, and staff. The second circle includes individuals and groups within Waco, McLennan County, and the state of Texas. The third group includes individuals and groups within our nation, our continent, and across the globe. In reality, the interests and concerns of these groups and the individuals that constitute them often converge or overlap in dynamic ways, building one upon the other. Nevertheless, the image of concentric circles aptly demonstrates Arts & Sciences’ broad influence and abiding responsibility.

Figure 3.1. Rings of Community Outreach Emanating from the College of Arts & Sciences

Figure 3.1


Act of Determination 1 -- Improving Campus Event Coordination and Promotion

The campus community is at the heart of Baylor's Pro Futuris vision. Arts & Sciences will improve communication pertaining to event planning, particularly for lecture series, seminars, recitals, exhibits, and other high-profile activities. While we support technological dissemination of information, we recognize that if promotion is limited to the calendar on the Baylor website, many people on campus and from the wider community will remain unaware of these offerings. Individual events are promoted through printed materials, but a master event calendar will raise awareness of everything that is happening on campus. Such a marketing and communications strategy is important because all too often excellent programs are under-attended, due in part to scheduling conflicts and limited publicity. To reach as large and diverse an audience as possible, Arts & Sciences will take steps to promote its scientific, cultural, and artistic offerings.

Action Steps:
  • By Fall 2014 the Dean, in consultation with the Theme 3 committee, will create the position of Events Coordinator5. This individual will interact with Baylor's Office of Marketing and Communications and with key individuals responsible for major activities and events in Arts & Sciences with the goal of improving coordination and publicity.
  • By Fall 2014, in consultation with the Events Coordinator, the Dean will form a Council for Informed Engagement. Council duties should include:
    • collecting data across Arts & Sciences concerning projects and programs involved in Informed Engagement; and
    • promoting Informed Engagement across Arts & Sciences.
  • By Spring 2015 the Events Coordinator will create a work plan on campus activities to be submitted annually to the Dean's Office and will work with the Director of Marketing and Communications of Arts & Sciences to:
    • enhance message delivery by improving print media such as brochures and magazines as well as electronic media such as the Arts & Sciences website, e-newsletters, and social media platforms; and
    • enhance communication with alumni by providing updates on events and initiatives and resources for lifelong learning.
  • The Events Coordinator will present a work plan to the Council of Chairs during Fall 2015.

    5We anticipate this position will consist of a non-teaching assignment for an existing faculty member.


Act of Determination 2 -- Improving Waco and Central Texas Community Outreach

Baylor's mission calls us to teach, pursue research, innovate, and serve with full awareness of the needs and interests of others. Some of our Waco and Central Texas neighbors have deep economic needs, and some are marginalized. Baylor intentionally addresses these challenges through evidence-based, solutions-focused, capacity-building partnerships to ease burdens and resolve fundamental inequities. In keeping with our Christian mission, we will address many of these concerns in collaboration with local churches, as well as provide these congregations with resources.

Arts & Sciences also reaches out to Central Texas through a rich array of cultural opportunities in education and the arts. We are committed to encouraging the members of this larger community to visit campus to take advantage of lectures, theatrical productions, and art exhibits. Our students’ educational experiences will connect their academic and creative strengths to the world beyond the classroom. All students will be inspired to connect their classroom learning to experiential opportunities that promote meaningful reflection and action. Experiential learning opportunities help to develop Baylor students into leaders who can resolve challenging issues in our state, nation, and world. Arts & Sciences will establish a set of principles for Service Learning Courses (refer to Appendix 3C) that will be included in discussions on the core curriculum revisions.

Action Steps:
  • By Fall 2014 the Dean will appoint one of the council members to the University Community Engagement Council to continue these efforts (refer to Appendices 3A-3C).
  • By Spring 2015, under the leadership of the Events Coordinator, the Council for Informed Engagement will meet with community leaders involved in education, service, and research to begin to develop collaborations (refer to Figure 3.2).
  • By Spring 2015 the Arts & Sciences Council for Informed Engagement will provide a report to the Council of Chairs on activities related to Waco and Central Texas community outreach.

Figure 3.2. Hierarchical Chart Showing the Proposed Activities of the Council for Informed Engagement

Figure 3.2


Act of Determination 3 -- Engaging with University Efforts on Global Education

The first aspirational statement in Baylor's Pro Futuris strategic plan emphasizes globalization and Baylor's efforts to prepare students to live in a world that is increasingly interconnected. Within Arts & Sciences, global education takes two basic forms: study abroad experiences and on-campus experiences that include coursework and other activities with an international focus. A list of current coursework related to global issues is provided in Appendix 3D. Also, Appendix 3E outlines possible activities for the Council for Informed Engagement.

Action Steps:
  • By Fall 2015 the Council for Informed Engagement, after reviewing the final report of the Baylor Global Engagement Taskforce, will work with the Vice Provost for Global Engagement to create and implement strategic acts of determination resulting from the Provost’s approval of recommendations.
  • The Arts & Sciences Council for Informed Engagement will provide a report of its recommendations to the Council of Chairs during Fall 2015.