Baylor’s Renowned Institute for Faith and Learning Marks 25th Anniversary
IFL celebrates a quarter century of supporting Baylor’s mission of bringing the riches of the Christian faith to the life of the mind
WACO, Texas (Nov. 9, 2022) – When the architects of Baylor University’s Institute for Faith and Learning (IFL) convened in 1997 to lay out its foundations, there was no guarantee that its influence would extend beyond the Baylor campus. Now in 2022, IFL is celebrating 25 years of fostering the pursuit of academic excellence and Christian commitment and its worldwide contributions to nurturing the synergy between faith and reason.
“There is a deeply ingrained assumption in higher education that the life of faith and the life of the mind cannot coexist. But this way of thinking runs counter to the basic Christian belief that faith animates every aspect of one’s life,” said IFL director Darin H. Davis, Ph.D. “Over the past quarter century, Baylor University’s Institute for Faith and Learning has distinguished itself among handful of nationally regarded academic centers devoted to a faith-centered and intellectually rigorous Christian scholarship and serves as an advocate for seeking and promoting deeper understanding of the ways in which faith might shape and direct teaching and research.”
IFL has developed several major programs in support of Baylor’s mission, cultivating high-quality research, sponsoring conferences, mentoring students and encouraging teaching faithful to the Christian intellectual tradition.
“We look forward to continuing IFL’s mission over the next 25 years to foster careful thought, inspire new ideas and encourage a deeper reflection on the Christian faith and its connection to learning,” said Davis, who also serves as clinical professor of moral philosophy in the Honors Program within Baylor’s Honors College and principal investigator/project director of the Lilly Endowment-funded Soundings Project.
Throughout its 25 years, the impact of the Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning has spanned students, faculty and staff at Baylor and at colleges and universities around the globe. By the numbers, IFL has:
- Held 28 conferences, including its annual Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture;
- Hosted more than 8,000 conference attendees from more than 800 institutions;
- Sponsored more than 350 Crane Scholars in an intensive program for gifted Baylor undergraduates interested in connections between faith and reason; and
- Held 18 faculty retreats attended by more than 700 faculty members.
“Those who work and teach in a Christian academic setting are given both a great honor and a tremendous responsibility as we are entrusted not only with the training of the mind but with their students’ spiritual development,” Davis said. “One of the most important ways in which IFL supports Baylor University’s mission of bringing the riches of the Christian faith to its students is to create opportunities for faculty and staff members to enrich and nurture their own faith.”
IFL programs for Baylor faculty include the Communio yearly retreat at Laity Lodge in the Hill Country; the newly created year-long seminar Missio for new and younger faculty members to examine the depths of Baylor’s commitment to faith and learning; and faculty seminars, such as the Forming Character in the Classroom series that equips faculty to see their teaching and mentoring as crucial expressions of character formation.
IFL’s next 25 years
On Thursday, Nov. 10, IFL will host IFL@25, celebrating its 25th year with a panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. in the Baylor Club ballroom at McLane Stadium. The panel on “Church, University and Culture: The Next 25 Years of Faith and Learning” will feature panelists:
- Rev. Dr. Michael A. Evans Sr., D.Min. ’09, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, mayor of Mansfield, Texas, and former Baylor Regent;
- Thomas Smith, Ph.D., professor and dean of Arts and Sciences at Catholic University; and
- Anne Snyder, editor of Comment magazine.
The panel discussion will be followed by a reception at 5 p.m. and a 7:15 p.m. lecture by Candace Vogler, Ph.D., The Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, who will speak on “Bringing Faith and Learning Together.”
For more information about the Institute for Faith and Learning at Baylor, visit the IFL website.
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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.