With humanities education being examined on a national scale, the Honors College is embarking on a year-long initiative to re-envision humanities education through a faculty mentoring program led by Honors College Dean Douglas Henry
“The Honors College holds a unique role at Baylor as its only exclusively undergraduate school or college,” Henry said. “We serve students pursuing all of the various degrees and majors throughout the University. We want each honors student to receive an integrated education that informs and inspires understanding of humanity—in its glory and fallenness, aspirations and accomplishments, questions and conundrums—because whatever else one studies or does, the humanities are relevant. Our students and our aims make the Honors College a compelling place to undertake this mentoring program, Re-Envisioning the Humanities.”
Funded by the Lilly Fellows Program (LFP) in Humanities and Arts, 15 faculty from across the University have been chosen to participate in shared reading and conversation surrounding the challenges the humanities face within American higher education.
“This year, we will be working towards understanding the predicament of the humanities, developing perspective in light of our Christian mission, and putting into practice what we learn together,” Henry said. “The defining purposes of the program are to understand causes for the much-discussed national crisis in the humanities; reflect together on ways in which our mission-driven, interdisciplinary humanities curriculum provides a compelling alternative; and undertake our academic vocation with renewed conviction and strengthened expertise.”
According to LFP Director Dr. Joe Creech, the LFP took a special interest in this project because of the interdisciplinary collaboration and focus on mentoring.
“One of the main goals of the Lilly Fellows Program is to promote the development of leaders in a faith-based environment, and Baylor’s Re-Envisioning the Humanities mentoring group fits right in line,” Creech said. “If we want to have great experiences for students in the classroom, we need faculty who are fully formed people, and this mentoring program creates opportunities for these faculty to be re-energized and mentored by professors from all disciplines.”
Throughout the course of the program, participants will meet several times a semester for milestone meetings, mentoring sessions, and classroom visits.
“Dean Henry has put together an impressive group of people from across the University who teach a variety of things across the humanities,” Honors Program Director and Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Elizabeth Corey said. “It’s one thing to talk about the liberal arts and the importance of them in the abstract, but it’s incredibly refreshing to be in the same room with colleagues who may do things differently than I do.”
A primary component of the mentoring program is for faculty to improve the quality of course design, their own pedagogy, and become leaders in their own departments.
“Having been involved with the Honors College for several years now, I have seen an increasing hunger among our students to seek answers to the questions we often contemplate in humanities courses, and I think we need to continue to figure out ways to make space for this type of discovery,” Lecturer in Classics Dr. Joseph DiLuzio said. “Thankfully, Re-Envisioning the Humanities gives us structured time to have our horizons raised as professors and consider new ideas.”
For Dr. Jonathan Tran, Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology and George W. Baines Chair of Religion, the allure of this initiative was the chance to discuss how best to improve and accomplish student formation through humanities courses and majors.
“The basic question we are always asking within the humanities is how do we produce flourishing human beings where goodness, truth, and beauty are a part of who someone is,” Tran said. “Student formation should always be at the heart of what we do, and this opportunity the Honors College has presented us with allows us to reimagine how to best equip our students.”
Re-Envisioning the Humanities began this September and will continue through the rest of the 2021-2022 academic year. The faculty chosen for the mentoring program are listed below.
- Candi Cann, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core
- Elizabeth Corey, Honors Program
- Joseph DiLuzio, Classics
- Jennifer Good, German
- Andrew Hogue, Philanthrophy & Public Service
- Kenneth Jones, Classics
- Eric Martin, Great Texts
- Sparky Matthews, Honors Program
- Charles McDaniel, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core
- Ann McGlashan, German
- Charles Ramsey, Campus Ministries
- Richard Russell, English
- Jonathan Tran, Religion
- William Weaver, Great Texts
- Matthew Whelan, Honors Program
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ABOUT THE HONORS COLLEGE AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
The Honors College at Baylor University unites four innovative interdisciplinary programs – the Honors Program, University Scholars, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and Great Texts – with a shared commitment to providing undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue questions that often fall between the cracks of the specialized disciplines by investigating the writings of scientists along with the writings of poets, historians and philosophers. For more information, visit baylor.edu/honorscollege.