For some time, we have aspired to be one of the great Christian universities in the world. The number of nationally visible universities that take their religious identity seriously is small, and Baylor is one of an even smaller group representing the free church tradition of Christianity. Among these, Baylor already stands out for its achievements, academic and religious. And judged by objective academic standards, Baylor continues to move forward with distinction.
Both historically and in current practice Baylor’s particular mission in teaching is to achieve a robust integration of Christian faith and the intellectual life. For us this dialogue between faith and intellect is not abstract or merely theoretical; rather, it reflects an existential commitment to the Lordship of Christ, so that life is understood as a stewardship divinely assigned and is intentionally lived out in service to humanity and the Kingdom of God. Such commitments are expressed in our teaching and in all the scholarly productivity to which we aspire. Intellectual and imaginative leadership in faith-learning integration at Baylor, as in Christian universities since their foundation centuries ago, has come principally from disciplines in the humanities such as religion, literature, and philosophy. But we have sought to extend it to music, art, history, and the social and physical sciences, as well as in professional areas, in ways appropriate to each discipline. Our goal continues to be intellectual activity that springs from disciplined habits of the heart and inspires action on behalf of the world.
If these goals seem within our reach, what more may we hope to achieve? Given our heritage, our Christian identity, and our potential to influence our state, nation, and world we must set our sights even higher. By 2012, Baylor will become an institution informed, energized, and motivated by a Christian identity that makes a striking difference in the character of our academic life. This difference will be obvious to discerning observers, who will see a university whose students, faculty, and staff serve the world and make it better, yet whose values are not simply the world’s, but reflect the will of God for all creation.
Baylor's Christian identity has given shape and direction to the University's entire educational mission — undergraduate, professional, and graduate. Our heritage, foundational assumptions, and core convictions establish the grounds for a framework of unifying themes that will make our academic programs distinctive and bring greater visibility to Baylor. These themes provide orientation not only for academic programs, but also for discussion and debate across the campus, for research and scholarship, and for community outreach. The six primary themes which mark and shape the Baylor academic community are as follows:
- Because we believe that all truth is open to human inquiry, Baylor University supports academic programs, within and across disciplines, which encourage the vigorous and open pursuit of truth by all the methods of scholarship. In addition, we endorse the exploration of disciplinary and interdisciplinary issues from a Christian point of view including the pursuit of religious knowledge and, more specifically, the personal knowledge of God.
- Because we believe that human life has meaning and purpose, we support academic programs that seek to illuminate that meaning and purpose and to enrich human life through the creative and artistic works of intellect and imagination.
- Because we believe that truth is open to inquiry and that human beings have obligations both to human communities and to nature, Baylor University supports academic programs and research that add to the sum of human knowledge and that apply knowledge to the technological, scientific, and cultural advancement of society.
- Because we believe that human beings are part of nature yet have been given responsibility as stewards of it, Baylor University supports academic programs that investigate the natural world, increase understanding of the symbiotic relationship between human beings and the natural world, and protect the environment by encouraging good stewardship of natural resources.
- Because we believe that we have responsibility to care for our health and wellbeing and that of others, Baylor University supports academic and extracurricular programs which seek to promote human physical, mental, and spiritual health.
- Because we believe that individuals have moral and ethical obligations to communities, Baylor University supports academic programs that recognize the importance of human institutions, promote an understanding of and responsible participation in economic and social systems, foster citizenship, enhance community, and encourage service.
The integration of these themes throughout our academic programs reflects the mission through which Baylor can profoundly affect the world. The heritage, foundational assumptions, core convictions and themes that reflect Baylor’s academic and community mission and define Baylor's role in higher education will play a decisive role in shaping the lives of students, hiring faculty, determining the priorities for academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels and in the professional schools, directing faculty research, and allocating resources.