STEM and Humanities Symposium: Defining the Epoch in Which We Live

  • stem
  • Peter J. Hotez
    Peter J. Hotez, courtesy photo.
  • Anne Chin
    Anne Chin courtesy photo.
April 5, 2016

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Contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (April 5, 2016) – The 2nd Annual STEM and Humanities Symposium will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in the SBC Theater of the Mayborn Museum.

The event, sponsored by Baylor Univeristy's College of Arts & Sciences, will focus on the Anthropocene, a proposed name for the current geological epoch.

"Attendees will gain a better sense of the times in which we live, a better appreciation of the breadth and depth of the challenges we face as a human community and understand the fact that we need a global coordinated response to the challenges facing us," said Heidi Bostic, Ph.D., department chair and professor of French and director of interdisciplinary programs for the College of Arts & Sciences. "On a more local level, we want attendees to learn about the crucial interdisciplinary teaching, research and service happening in the College of Arts and Sciences."

The symposium will address challenges such as climate change in an epoch in which humans have replaced nature as the most significant environmental force on Earth. The symposium argues that the answer to solving such questions must include every discipline in both STEM and the humanities.

The symposium will include a faculty panel and two keynote speakers. The faculty panel features Julia Daniel, Ph.D., assistant professor of modern American poetry with a focus in environmental humanities and urban studies; Joseph Ferraro, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology; Paul Martens, Ph.D., associate professor of religion; and Christie M. Sayes, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science and toxicology.

The keynote speakers will be Anne Chin, Ph.D., professor of geology and environmental science at the University of Colorado, Denver, and editor-in-chief for the journal "Anthropocene," and Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, professor of departments of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Chin is a geomorphologist with expertise on the dynamics, morphology and evolution of river systems. Her research focuses on interactions and feedback among geomorphological, ecological and human processes. Her work on coupled human-landscape dynamics also concerns societal responses to landscape change, with implications and applications for environmental management and policy.

Hotez is the Baker Institute Fellow in disease and poverty and the president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. He is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with expertise in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. He also holds an appointment at Baylor as University Professor of Biology.

"Dr. Chin and Dr. Hotez will offer distinct yet complementary perspectives," Bostic said.

The symposium seeks to highlight the value of study in the humanities as well as current research and teaching activities at Baylor that cross both the humanities and STEM fields and to spur conversation and collaboration, leading to grants, publications and curricular innovation.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The Mayborn Museum is located at 1300 S. University Parks Drive.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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