Centennial Professors Receive Funding for 2023 Summer Research Projects
by Lexi Nitishin, student news writer, Baylor University Media & Public Relations
WACO, Texas (April 24, 2023) – Baylor University faculty members Julie deGraffenried, Ph.D., department chair and associate professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Baylor School of Education, have been selected to receive the 2023 Centennial Professor Awards for summer research projects.
The Centennial Professor Award, created by the Baylor Class of 1945, honors two tenured faculty members with a $5,000 Centennial Faculty Development award for research projects, which facilitate their development and contribute to the academic life of the University. These projects may include travel for study or research, the development of innovative teaching materials or other professional development activities.
Soviet-era antireligious campaigns
deGraffenried’s research and teaching focuses on the intersection of 20th-century Russian history and the history of childhood. Her research, “Seeing Is (Un)Believing: Antireligious Posters in the Soviet Union,” looks at the images of the antireligious campaigns from 1917 to 1985 by analyzing professionally produced antireligious propaganda posters. These posters give insight into one component of Soviet efforts to suppress and manage faith communities and belief in the USSR, and they are particularly helpful, deGraffenried said, in understanding differing themes and priorities of first wave (revolutionary era) and second wave (era of late socialism) religious persecution.
“Russia’s most recent invasion of Ukraine has limited my ability to conduct research in Russia. Though it is a minor problem compared to the ongoing disruption and loss suffered by the people of Ukraine, I have had to swiftly reorient my research agenda over the past year to accommodate the new reality that travel to Russia is not possible,” deGraffenried said. “This project on the visual component of Soviet-era antireligious campaigns relies primarily on digital collections and holdings available outside of Russia. The Centennial Professor Award is both an affirmation of this new work I have begun as well as the means to lay the foundation for future work.”
Her project began with the poster collection in Baylor Libraries’ Keston Center for Religion, Politics and Society, which holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of materials on religious persecution under communist and other totalitarian regimes. As deGraffenried’s project has expanded to encompass collections worldwide, the Centennial Professor award will allow her to create and organize a database for the thousands of posters she is working with and to travel to U.S.-based collections of posters unavailable electronically.
“I am so honored to be among the distinguished list of past Centennial Professor recipients. I’m particularly thrilled to be the fourth member of the Baylor History faculty to receive this award,” DeGraffenried said. “I am so grateful that the Class of 1945 had the foresight to create an award flexible enough to fund professional development of faculty, whether that’s research or teaching. What a valuable, lasting and impactful gift from the Centennial Class.”
Scaling civic education at a national level
LeCompte teaches courses on curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in social studies education. Her research interests include civics education, technology and teacher preparation. With her Centennial Professor funding, LeCompte’s research, “Investigating Action Civics Programs: Perspectives on civic education through iEngage,” aims to determine if civic learning opportunities within the established iEngage summer civics education program promote differential thinking among youth at different levels of civic development.
“As a social studies educator for 20 years, I have studied the nature of learning civics education in the elementary grades and worked to prepare the next generation of teachers with the foundational knowledge and experiences to teach high-quality civics education,” LeCompte said.
The Centennial Professor funding will allow LeCompte to work towards organizing a profile of the characteristics of an effective civics program that could be used as a framework for developing teacher education programs, professional development of new teachers and mentoring support for all elementary teachers. Based on these characteristics, the current preparation of new teachers in elementary civics education can be examined to determine potential areas that could be created or re-conceptualized to support these characteristics' development.
“Situating this research within the iEngage program will allow for synthesizing findings within a successful program for high-impact scholarly contributions and establishing Baylor's iEngage as a research-informed model for scaling civic education at a national level,” LeCompte said. “I aim to contribute to and enhance research on civic education and solidify Baylor’s national recognition as a leader in civic education and engagement.”
The selection of the 2023 Centennial Professor Awards was made by the Centennial Faculty Development Review Committee, chaired by Joaquin N. Lugo, Ph.D., associate professor and graduate program director in psychology and neuroscience.
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.
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The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments in the sciences, humanities, fine arts and social sciences, as well as 11 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. The College’s undergraduate Unified Core Curriculum, which routinely receives top grades in national assessments, emphasizes a liberal education characterized by critical thinking, communication, civic engagement and Christian commitment. Arts & Sciences faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit the College of Arts & Sciences website.
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For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit the School of Education website to learn more.