Baylor University is a private, Christian and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 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 the state. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.
The Baylor University Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative (BIPI) was designed to create a catalyst for social change around issues of poverty, civic engagement, social and economic justice. The program was established in June 2007 with generous funding provided through a three-year grant from the Bridgeway Foundation. BIPI is based on Washington and Lee University’s nationally recognized Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary study of Poverty and Human Capability.
Governed by a faculty advisory committee appointed by the provost, BIPI’s primary focus is discipline-based service and undergraduate research. BIPI established a Poverty and Social Justice Minor that includes course options from more than 25 different disciplines. Other initiatives include the eight- to 10-week summer internship and fellowship programs that provide students with both local and international placement opportunities, an annual social justice conference, film series, panel discussions, issue-specific alternative spring break trips and the Campus Kitchens Project at Baylor.
Upon the recommendation of BIPI in August 2011, the Division of Student Life began the process of centralizing all service initiatives under one roof to be called the Office of Community Engagement and Service. Additional staff members have been transferred to support this initiative that moved to a new facility, the Martin House, in July 2012. The office plans to expand opportunities to engage students in meaningful and informed service locally, nationally and internationally with the intention of providing a full menu of options that range from immersion experiences, discipline-based service learning, and internships to undergraduate research placements in partnership with faculty sponsors. Several major projects with local health care and educational institutions are in the planning stages.
Kirsten Escobar, Kirsten_Escobar@baylor.edu, (254) 710-4988