Going Deep at the Intersection of Faith & Learning
As an R1 institution, Baylor beckons top global graduate minds. Rooted in its Christian tradition and values, Baylor fosters a unique space for scholars to intertwine high-level research with faith exploration.
What do names like Conyers and Ramm communicate about Baylor’s foundational mission as the University serves graduate students?
While those names are representative of the numerous organizations for grad students at the intersection of faith and learning, they further point toward Baylor’s foundational mission and institutional distinction as a Christian research university.
“Many of us are in a place where we think about how to love God and love others through our teaching and research,” Rich Eva, a philosophy Ph.D. student and founder of Baylor’s Christian Scholars Forum, says. “Baylor provides great resources for that. I like hearing how people in different disciplines think about their teaching and their research, and to think about how other Christians think through the tools they use for these different tasks across campus.”
As an R1 institution, Baylor draws top graduate students from around the globe and, as a Christian research university, attracts many who naturally desire to intentionally pursue their calling on a faith foundation. The University welcomes students of all faith backgrounds, but is a natural place to explore the connection between high-level scholarship and their Christian faith.
“Graduate students are going deep. Regardless of their discipline, they are learning to probe and ask difficult questions,” Charles Ramsey, Ph.D., Director for Campus Ministries & Church Connections—Associate Chaplain, says. “They don’t have a lot of time to spare, and they want to make it count. Baylor recognizes the importance of spiritual care for our rapidly growing graduate community, and it’s meaningful to provide deliberate engagement for students in this phase of their journey.”
Discover the resources that allow graduate students to intentionally explore the relevance of the sacred to their own line of study, including:
“We found that over a third of our entering doctoral students are interested, not only in learning more about their discipline, but learning how to integrate their discipline with their faith,” Larry Lyon, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School, says. “The Conyers Scholars program is our most popular program for allowing students to do just that—to grow intellectually and spiritually with other students, engaging in conversation with faculty across campus.
Baylor’s Conyers Graduate Scholars Program hosts dinners and seminars to foster intellectually rich discussions about faith and scholarly inquiry, alongside Baylor faculty, and to consider together the works of outstanding Christian scholars who inspire students to explore these connections.
A cross-disciplinary program for doctoral STEM students and M.Div. students, this partnership between the Graduate School and Truett Seminary interested in the engagement between Christianity and science. At dinners and seminars throughout the year, students are introduced to historical and contemporary issues related to Christianity and science.
Kimlyn Bender, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Theology and the Foy Valentine Chair in Christian Theology and Ethics, works with Ramm Scholars and supports discussions of the intersection between faith and science. A theology professor who has worked with American Association for the Advancement of Science projects, is one of many interested in facilitating these discussions.
“Students at this stage are being formed as the scholars, teachers and ministers they will be for the rest of their lives," Bender says, “and in a context they may never be in again where they can intentionally discuss the relationship between Christian faith and the sciences in a university setting dedicated to fostering and encouraging these conversations.”
Christian Scholars Forum
Baylor’s Christian Scholars Forum chapter is an example of a student-led organization with goals similar to the Conyers and Ramm program.
“Christian Scholars Forum is an ecumenical group of scholars, focused on loving God and loving others,” founder Rich Eva said. “It’s informal, an opportunity to get together biweekly with other graduate students. As we speak, we’re reading through a book on Christian teaching and focused on how to integrate faith with teaching—how does it actually affect our pedagogical practices? Other semesters, we may focus more on the theoretical. We help each other think through these questions with a lot of different disciplines in the room.”
Baylor’s longstanding leadership as a Christian institution has supported the formation of numerous campus organizations that serve graduate students. Other examples include BCU Scholars, for students who attended a Baptist college or university prior to Baylor, Baylor’s chapter of InterVarsity, or a pilot ministry called Open Table, built by Truett Seminary and churches who traditionally serve graduate students.
In recent years, Baylor’s Office of Spiritual Life has been invited into deeper partnership with Baylor’s Graduate Student Association, with organizations like InterVarsity and Baptist Student Ministry leaning more fully into offerings for graduate students. Additionally, the Office of Spiritual Life created a Chaplain charged specifically with serving graduate students. Ngotozo Vero, a Christian Ministry graduate student, hosts recurring Bible studies, social gatherings and prayer meetings in this position, and meets with his fellow graduate students both formally and informally, to serve as a caring presence.
Baylor’s growth as a research institution has been mirrored through growth in these spiritual resources for students.
“When I was a student at Baylor, from 1993 to 2000 earning my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, there was basically a chaplain, an administrative assistant and Baptist Student Union staff serving students,” Ramsey said. “Now, there is a dynamic team of over 50 individuals directly engaged in providing spiritually formative opportunities for Baylor students, both undergraduate and graduate. There’s a beautiful tapestry that enhances the spiritual environment at Baylor, and it’s meaningful to work to meet the needs and interests of our graduate community and their families.”
You can read more about the Baylor Graduate School's efforts around elevating its Christian mission in the 2023 Annual Report.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.