In the early 1990s, administrators and professors of Baylor University formed a committee to develop an interdisciplinary core curriculum. This curriculum would be available to Baylor students as an optional alternative to general studies courses. After much research and widespread conversation with the schools across campus, the committee formulated the course sequences that compose the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. The goal of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core was to create learning communities through an interdisciplinary education that fostered active learning with emphasis on the reading of primary sources and writing.
The committee developed specific strategies to accomplish this goal. The primary objective was to create an interdisciplinary curriculum, because, after all, life is interdisciplinary. It was decided that courses should be team-taught by professors from across the university and the community to offer a variety of perspectives within one course. As part of the courses, students would participate in active learning, which requires them to play a role in their own education. Students read primary sources instead of commentaries found in textbooks. They read Plato instead of reading about Plato. Small group discussion and field trips enable students to share ideas on the readings, ask questions, and apply the readings to the world outside of Baylor. In addition, studies found that a common experience in which students progress through the courses together enhances their education, so the committee determined that BIC students would progress through the BIC sequences together. In order to develop this common experience, students would enter the BIC at the beginning of their university education.
In 1995, the BIC accepted its first class and two hundred students began their journey through the new program. Since then, some adjustments have been made as the program's success has grown. Initially, the BIC included a mathematics course which the mathematics department liked so much that they now offer it to the entire university. Similarly, Examined Life One provided a model for the University 1000 courses that all first year students now take. BIC has been on the cutting edge of University education and we refine and reshape our courses in light of contemporary pedagogical research.
In 2000, the BIC underwent an internal study to determine students' satisfaction with the program in relation to non-BIC students' satisfaction with general studies courses, and the results were encouraging. Approximately 40% of BIC students as opposed to only 9% of the general student body believed their core curriculum courses prepared them very well for their major/minor courses. In addition, twice as many BIC students believed their BIC experience deepened their appreciation of Christian tradition as general studies students. We are pleased by these results and have seen them replicated for almost 20 years in each of our senior exit surveys.
As new students enter and others become alumni, the BIC continues to grow. Our students hold leadership positions in organizations, participate in internships, and take advantage of study abroad opportunities. Our alumni have moved on to great things as well. We are now developing programs that involve our alumni in the life of current BIC students. It is exciting to see the myriad accomplishments associated with the BIC education and to look forward to those that lie ahead. Thank you for becoming part of the unfolding history of the BIC.