Institute for Faith and Learning Hosts Largest Conference in Its History

October 30, 2019
IFL Hosts Largest Conference in Its History as Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture and Lilly Fellows Program Explore “The Character of the University”

October 30, 2019

More than 600 scholars and academic leaders from 170 institutions gathered October 17-20 to explore the prospects for moral formation in higher education during the Institute for Faith and Learning’s (IFL) largest conference in its 22-year history.

“The Character of the University” combined IFL’s annual Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture with the 29th annual national conference of the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts (LFP), a network of 99 church-related colleges and universities from across the country.

“As higher education meets unprecedented changes and challenges, the need to think about the character of the university has never been greater,” said Darin H. Davis, director of the Institute for Faith and Learning. “We viewed this year’s conference as a unique opportunity to think together about how character formation might be fostered and how such efforts require colleges and universities to reflect upon their own character, mission, and identity.”

The conference featured presentations by Candace Vogler, University of Chicago; Talbot Brewer, University of Virginia; Elizabeth Corey, Baylor University; Christian Miller, Wake Forest University; Francis Su, Harvey Mudd College; Elizabeth Newman, independent scholar; and Thomas Hibbs, University of Dallas. Nearly 150 other presentations examined the conference theme from across the academic disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, history, theology, business, and engineering.

“The Lilly Fellows Program’s annual national conference provides a rare opportunity for teachers and administrators from a wide range of church-related institutions to learn from each other,” said Joe Creech, director of the LFP. “Those who attend frequently find this to be unique discursive space comprised of folks from a wide variety of school type—doctoral universities to small liberal arts colleges—and from numerous Christian traditions. Attendees bring not only an ecumenical mix but a full range of views on big questions. They are drawn together by a common commitment to the idea that these traditions in Christian thought and practice have something critical to contribute to higher learning.”

Creech was especially enthusiastic about combining IFL’s symposium on faith and culture and the LFP conference because of the synergy that exists between the two constituencies. Creech found the conference “intellectually and spiritually engaging” and said that participants left renewed in their commitments to higher learning.

Founded in 1991, the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts seeks to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of learning. LFP represents among its current membership a diversity of denominational traditions, institutional types, and geographical locations. It is based at Christ College, the interdisciplinary honors college of Valparaiso University.

Founded in 1997, the Institute for Faith and Learning aims to cultivate careful reflection, rigorous scholarship, and vital practice that supports Baylor’s mission as a Christian research university. The Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, held annually since 2007, has explored topics such as: friendship, global poverty, secularization, human dignity and the future of health care, technology and human flourishing, and faith and film.

The 2020 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture will be held October 29-31 on the theme “Living Accountably.”

“My colleagues in IFL (Lori Kanitz, Matthew Bixler, Nathan Hays, and Vickie Schulz) and I are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a gathering place for Christian scholars and teachers from across the globe to think together about the world of ideas,” Davis said.
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