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Call For Papers: 2016 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, “Higher Learning”


Quick Facts
Dates: Thursday, October 27-Saturday, October 29
Location: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Deadline for Proposals: July 31, 2016
Web Site: 

Conference Description and Call for Proposals

Higher education in America is in the midst of profound challenge and transformation. The cost of a college education continues to rise. Disagreements persist about what constitutes the core curriculum. Technological advances confront traditional assumptions about how instruction and research are conducted. Political conflict and social unrest have been especially visible on many college campuses. And these are only some of the signs of change and stress.

Amid these challenges, it is not clear what people expect colleges and universities to do in the first place. Should they primarily be devoted to job placement for their graduates? Should they at the same time advance research across the disciplines in ways that expand the frontiers of knowledge? Should they seek to form their students intellectually, morally, and even spiritually while preparing them for responsible citizenship and civic engagement? Should they also be the places where enthusiastic sports fans gather in grand arenas and stadiums to watch athletes pursue victory? With so many competing expectations, it is no wonder that so many institutions seem to be suffering something akin to an identity crisis.

Perhaps some of these challenges and expectations might be better navigated by considering anew the goal of higher learning.

How might the ideal of higher learning be articulated to meet the challenges of the present age? How can colleges and universities cultivate a richer conception and practice of teaching and learning across the disciplines? In what ways might the goals of intellectual, moral, and spiritual formation be advanced in order to serve the needs of students and the common good? What are the possibilities for colleges and universities—especially those with a religious identity and mission—to exemplify a winsome and faithful presence to the larger culture?

Join us as we explore these questions during the 2016 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, “Higher Learning,” on October 27-29.

Proposals for individual papers, panel discussions, and responses to current books are welcome. We seek reflection from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives. Abstracts of no more than 750 words should be submitted by July 31, 2016 online at

Possible topics include:

  • The past, present, and future of Christian higher education
  • STEM, humanities, and liberal learning
  • Opportunities and challenges of online learning
  • Research, teaching, and the scholarly vocation
  • Global perspectives on higher learning
  • The future of the humanities
  • Ancient practices in modern classrooms
  • Pedagogy as formation

We have a great video archive available that includes the plenary lectures and panels from last year’s conference.

You can view these videos here: THE IFL VIMEO PAGE


Institute for Faith and Learning
One Bear Place #97270
Waco, TX 76798-7270
254-710-1725 (fax)



Lilly Fellows Program special edition of The Cresset

The annual Lilly Fellows Program special edition of The Cresset: A Review of Literature, The Arts, and Public Affairs is now available on line.  This special edition contains “Created for Creativity,” Steven R. Guthrie’s plenary address at the 25th annual Lilly Fellows Program National conference at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.  This edition of The Cresset also contains a review by former Lilly Postdoctoral Fellow Jennifer L. Miller of the winner and finalists of the Lilly Fellows Program Book Award, and it contains “Look at Your Fish,” a reflection on learning by former Lilly Postdoctoral Fellow Jason Crawford.

–By Joe Creech

From the Colloquium, February 2016

From the Colloquium

Since 2006, the Lilly Fellows Program Director has published a “From the Colloquium” column about four times per year. The idea behind this column is to share some of the common readings from the colloquia of the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.

This fall, the weekly colloquium of the residential Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows, led by Founding Director Mark Schwehn, addressed the question, “How might practices and perspectives from the Christian faith and tradition contribute to teaching and scholarship in the contemporary academy?”  In the last edition of “From the Colloquium” I surveyed many of the texts the Postdoctoral Fellows colloquium used to address that question.  Since that November column, the colloquium has address three additional texts and a film. First, the colloquium read several chapters from James Elkins’ Pictures and Tears. In this work, which has been a favorite of the Lilly Graduate Fellows, Elkins, an art historian, reflects on how his academic training has affected his ability to be moved emotionally by encounters with art, specifically, and beauty, more broadly. The discipline of art history opens up a wider conversation about the role of emotions in research and pedagogy and, perhaps more deeply, how first order thought and disciplinary formation alter our perceptions not only in aesthetics but more broadly in our approach to and engagement with our academic subjects.  From there, the colloquium read selections from Christian Wiman’s 2013 My Bright Abyss, focusing on questions regarding the motivations and inner characterizes that prompt artistic and academic work. From Wiman we moved to Abraham Heschel’s classic The Sabbath.  Like Elkins’ Pictures and Tears, this is a regular reading among both the Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows.  In it, Heschel delineates the distinction between those parts of our lives aimed at mastering space (the secular; the drive to have) and those that could be devoted to sacred time, which we cannot control (the sacred or Sabbath, the need simply to be).  Finally, the colloquium viewed the film, Of God’s and Men, focused on the work and witness of a monastic community in North Africa in the midst of war.  A meditative work much like Babette’s Feast, it highlights the way practices informed the brothers’ response to increasingly difficult situation.

In the May issue of “From the Colloquium,” I will survey the books the Postdoctoral Fellows read this spring semester.

By Joe Creech

From the Colloquium, November 2015

Since 2006, the Lilly Fellows Program Director has published a “From the Colloquium” column about four times per year. The idea behind this column is to share some of the common readings from the colloquia of the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.

This fall, the weekly colloquium of the residential Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows, led by Founding Director Mark Schwehn, is addressing the question, “How might practices and perspectives from Christian faith and tradition contribute to teaching and scholarship in the contemporary academy?” To start, the colloquium discussed Robert Frost’s poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” which explores themes of vocation, avocation, and justice. The colloquium has subsequently read and discussed texts that address the assumptions, practices, and institutions that shape professional training for academic disciplines. In addition, we have examined works that interrogate those practices and assumptions from Christian or other points of view. The foundation for this conversation is, as it has been for a number of years, Max Weber’s classic “Science as Vocation.” In this 1918 lecture/1919 publication, Weber saw the same processes of rationalization (including a division of labor), secularization, and especially disenchantment at work in universities that he identified more generally in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1906) where, in Germany, universities were transitioning from an older model that privileged “character formation” to a newer one that privileged the mastery and production of knowledge. This essay, in elevating dispassionate research as the sine qua non of the academic vocation, revealed the rationale for the ethos of the modern university and specific expressions of that ethos such as academic freedom, the structure of academic departments, benchmarks for promotion and tenure, etc. The goal of the our conversation about this seminal text is to identify the historical and intellectual context of these assumptions and practices that shape who we are as academics, identifying what we see as positive or necessary but also assessing–as Weber himself did–the costs of these developments. Along this same vein, the colloquium read portions of Louis Menand’s The Marketplace of Ideas to assess the continuities from Weber to the present. One line of critique comes from the work of Paul Griffiths on the classic Christian distinction between the vice curiositas—a mastery of knowledge—and the virtue studiositas, a participation in knowledge as a steward of God’s truth.  The colloquium studied Griffith’s essay, “From Curiosity to Studiousness: Catechizing the Appetite for Learning,” in Teaching and Christian Practices, edited by David I. Smith and James K.A. Smith, which summarizes his extended argument along this line in Intellectual Appetite. Finally, the colloquium considered two works that closely examine the idea of “naming,” which, in Genesis 2, has both humanistic and theological importance.  The first is Amy and Leon Kass’s article, “What’s Your Name,” which appeared in First Things in November, 1995.  The Kasses here think through the names we take and give in the collegiate classroom setting and in marriage as a window into identity, work, and power.  The colloquium explored similar themes in portions of Ian McEwan’s novel, Atonement.  As in most years, we also read the classic works by Simone Weil (“The Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” in Waiting for God), and Stephanie Paulsell’s (Lilly Fellow ’93-’95) (“Writing as a Spiritual Discipline” in The Scope of our Art, L. Gregory Jones and Paulsell, eds.).  In January, I will discuss the readings in the colloquium in November and December, which include works by James Elkins, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Christian Wiman.

By Joe Creech

From the Colloquium, Graduate Fellows Edition

Since 2006, the Lilly Fellows Program Director has published a “From the Colloquium” column about four times per year. The idea behind this column is to share some of the common readings from the colloquia of the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program. These works can be of great value for mentoring programs or faculty development projects at different campuses (or to add to your own reading lists).

Common readings and group discussion have been central to the Lilly Fellows Program’s (LFP) fellowship programs from their start twenty-five years ago. First with the Lilly Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship program at Valparaiso University starting in 1992 and then with the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program in 2008, Fellows have encountered readings intended to engage Christian thought and practice as they intersect the tasks of teaching and scholarship that make up the work we do in the academy. The readings address these issues on both the personal and institutional level, examining our individual practices as scholars as well as those of our academic institutions (with, of course, a special emphasis on those institutions of higher learning that connect to a church-related mission).

Once a year, we focus on the readings that the three active cohorts of Lilly Graduate Fellows discuss. These Fellows are in their first three years of Graduate school. Each semester, the Lilly Graduate Fellow cohorts select readings that cluster around a particular theme.

So, without further ado, here are some of those readings.

The members of the Fifth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate school and the program in fall 2012 and who just completed their three year program, read and discussed materials focused on the theme “Christianity, Higher Learning, and American Democratic Culture.” This Cohort is mentored by Lisa DeBoer of Westmont College and Michael Patella of Saint John’s University. Having studied George Eliot’s Middlemarch over the summer, the cohort tackled this theme by reading sections of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Willa Cather’s My Antonia, Mary Catherine Bateson’s essay, “Composing a Life Story,” Robert Benne’s Quality with Soul, selections from Hughes, Richard T. Hughes and William B. Adrian’s Models for Christian Higher Education: Strategies for Survival and Success in the Twenty-First Century, Josef Pieper’s classic Leisure: The Basis of Culture (a regular text with both the Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellowship colloquia), Alan Jacobs’ essay, “George Eliot: Good Without God,” Tracy Fessenden’s “Secularism, Feminism, Imperialism:  Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Progress Narrative of U.S. Feminism,” Jon Roberts and James Turner’s The Sacred and Secular University (also popular with the Graduate Fellows), “Facing Reality” from Marilynne Robinson’s The Death of Adam, selections from Charles Taylor’s The Secular Age, and Job and Sawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants.  In the spring term, 2015, as is becoming the custom, the cohort members brought work from their own programs to share with the group.

The members of the Sixth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who completed the second year of their fellowship and who began their graduate studies in the fall of 2013, spent the year reflecting on two themes. In the fall, they tackled “Christian Vocation as Active Love in the World.” The Sixth Cohort’s mentors are Jane Kelley Rodeheffer of Pepperdine University and Arlin Migliazzo of Whitworth University. The “spine” text for the fall was Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The group supplemented that text with Mary Catherine Bateson, “Composing a Life Story,” Allan Gurganus, White People, Sherman Alexie, “The Trial of Thomas Builds the Fire,” Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons, Rowan Williams, Dostoevsky: Language, Faith, and Fiction, and the poetry of Louise Gluck (“The Wild Iris” and “Vespers”), George Herbert (“Love Bade Me Welcome”), Geoffrey Hill (“Lachrimae Amantis”), Gerard Manley Hopkins (“Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend’” and “My Own Heart Let Me Have More Pity On”), Mary Karr (“Descending Theology: The Resurrection”), Denise Levertov (“To Live in the Mercy of God” and “For Those Whom the Gods Love Less”), Steve Smith (“The Airy Christ”), Christian Wiman (“And I said to my Soul” and “Five Houses Down”), and Thomas Merton (“When in the Soul of the Serene Disciple”). They also discussed Anthony Domestico’s interview with Christian Wiman, “Prepared for Joy,” in Commonweal (May 2, 2014).

In the spring, the Sixth Cohort addressed the subject, “Living Our Christian Vocation as Teachers and Scholars.”  The primary texts were several classics of both the Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellowship colloquia, including Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do, Andrew Delbanco, College, Arlin C. Migliazzo, ed., Teaching as an Act of Faith, Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach, Parker J. Palmer and Arthur Zajonc, The Heart of Higher Education, James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, and Barbara Gross Davis, Tools for Teaching. They also engaged Jane Kelley Rodeheffer, “Educating For Justice: Service Learning and Plato’s Republic,” and ‘Assailed By Greater Care’: Revivalist Imagery in Dante’s Portrayal of Cato and the Penitents in Purgatorio II,” Charles Baxter, “Gryphon,” Wayne C. Booth, “What Little I Think I Know About Teaching,” J. D. Chapman, “Send Your Kid to the Ivy League,” William Deresiewicz, “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League,” Thomas Merton, “Learning To Live,” Vivian Gussin Paley, Wally’s Stories:  Conversations in the Kindergarten, Kathryn Tanner, “Why Are We Here?,” Lionel Trilling, “Of this Time, of that Place,” and the poetry of Yehuda Amichaids (“The School Where I Studied”), Judy Brown (“Fire”), Elizabeth Carlson (“Imperfection”), Emily Dickinson (“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”), John Fox (“When Someone Deeply Listens to You”), Denise Levertov (“Witness”), Mary Oliver (“The Journey”), Rainer Maria Rilke (“I Am too Alone in the World, and Not Alone Enough”), Jellaludin Rumi (“Two Kinds of Intelligence”), William Butler Yeats (“Earth, Fire and Water”), and Al Zolynas (“Love in the Classroom—for My Students”).

Members of the Seventh Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate work in fall, 2014, with mentors Paul Contino of Pepperdine University and Susan Felch of Calvin College, addressed the topic, “The Fellowship of Pilgrims” in fall, 2014, and the topic, “Midway in the Journey of Our Lives,” in spring, 2015. To grapple with “The Fellowship of Pilgrims,” the cohort used as its “spine” text Augustine’s Confessions, and, in addition, read Wayne Booth’s “Introduction” from The Company we Keep, Paul Griffith’s, The Vice of Curiosity, Robert Kiely’s, Blessed and Beautiful, the classic by Stephanie Paulsell, “Writing as a Spiritual Discipline,” from Paulsell and L. Gregory Jones, The Scope of Our Art, Christine D. Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Susan Felch’s “Doubt and the Hermeneutics of Delight,” Rowan Williams’ The Dwelling of the light: Praying with Icons of Christ, and Simone Weil’s classic, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies” in Waiting for God. In the spring, to address the theme “Midway in the Journey of our Lives,” the “spine” text was, not surprisingly, Dante’s Inferno, along with Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s Glittering Vices (which as become especially popular with the Graduate Fellows), C.S. Lewis, “The Inner Ring,” and Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues.

Posted by Joe Creech


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