• Understanding the five signature academic initiatives of Baylor’s strategic plan, Illuminate

    A Baylor research conducts water research in a stream

    In her inaugural remarks, President Linda Livingstone declared that “the world needs a preeminent research university that is unambiguously Christian.” Since that charge just over 18 months ago, the Baylor Family has been introduced to Illuminate, the university’s academic strategic plan aimed at turning such aspirations into reality.

    What does that roadmap look like? Illuminate is comprised of five signature academic initiatives and four foundational pillars. Those pillars provide the “true north” that guides how Baylor pursues worldwide leadership and service — core ideas on which the university is built: an unambiguously Christian educational environment; transformational undergraduate education; research and scholarship marked by quality, impact and visibility; and nationally recognized programs in human performance through arts and athletics.

    The signature academic initiatives offer more specific areas in which Baylor aims to build on that foundation to address key societal challenges. Here’s a quick rundown of each of those five initiatives:

    Health: It’s common to find professors and students across campus engaged in health-related research and service, and this signature initiative expands that by involving every school and college on campus in one or more of these key areas: environmental determinants of health; biomedical research; undergraduate health and medical education; family and community determinants of health; and areas of health policy, law, leadership and ethics.

    Data Sciences: The massive amounts of data being collected in virtually every field today can uncover solutions to global problems, but only if we know how to use it and how to recognize data that truly matters. At Baylor, this initiative will focus on three key areas: biomedical informatics, cybersecurity and business analytics.

    Materials Science: More simply put, this is the “science of stuff.” Baylor researchers are seeking ways to discover new materials or improve existing materials to provide products that are safer, stronger, faster or more user-friendly. From automobiles to aerospace to energy, it’s a rapidly expanding field that touches on just about everything.

    Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics: As a Christian institution serving our neighbors and the Church, Baylor is uniquely poised to become a leader in understanding the conditions in which communities flourish. Character, leadership, care for the world around us, meaningful creative expression — these areas and more span every discipline, and this long-standing Baylor strength will grow as a focus campus-wide.

    Baylor in Latin America: Throughout the Americas, Baylor is uniquely able, as a Christian institution in the state of Texas, to work with our neighbors in high-impact areas in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean on areas such as health, education, immigration and economics. Baylor has ties throughout the region, and can build on those relationships to further existing research and build new initiatives to meet needs across a variety of disciplines.

    These areas are not new; collaboration in each of them across campus is already moving the needle in national conversations and understanding. As they become stated university priorities, they’re areas that position Baylor to blaze new trails, uncover breakthroughs and solve problems in a larger scale. While Baylor’s founders may never have envisioned the need for biomedical research or data sciences, they knew the world needed a Christian university “fully susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the needs of all the ages to come.” These five initiatives will guide Baylor to meet those needs for a new generation.

    Sic ’em, Illuminate!

    You might also like:
    * What does the new academic strategic plan, ‘Illuminate,’ mean for Baylor? (May 2018)
    * Why is Baylor increasing its emphasis on research? (Oct. 2018)
    * Baylor launches ‘Give Light,’ a $1.1 billion fundraising effort to support BU students & programs (Nov. 2018)
    * Understanding the foundational pillars that support Illuminate (Jan. 2019)