Co-Director, Dr. Todd Buras, is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair in the Department of Philosophy at Baylor University. His Ph.D. was awarded by Yale University in 2004. He also holds a Masters of Arts in Religion from the Yale Divinity School. His primary area of research and publication is 17th Century Scottish Philosophy and related topics in contemporary philosophy of religion and philosophy of mind. He is co-editor of Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value (Oxford University Press, 2015), and the author of many peer-reviewed articles and invited book chapters. His essays have appeared in such venues as Journal of Philosophy, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Philosophical Quarterly, American Philosophical Quarterly, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. As Director of Undergraduate Studies, he has extensive experience with curriculum development and review. In recent years, he has been involved in the development of curricula for teaching ethics and philosophy at the high school level, and has piloted this curriculum at Live Oak Classical School in Waco, TX. He is presently preparing a textbook, and accompanying teacher resources, based on this work. He has also spoken about these experiences and materials at national conferences for K-12 educators.
Co-Director, Dr. Phillip J. Donnelly is Professor of Literature in the Honors College at Baylor University where he teaches in the Great Texts Program and the English Department. He also serves as Director for the Great Texts Program. His research focuses on the historic connections between philosophy and imaginative literature, with particular emphasis on Renaissance literature and rhetorical education. He is the author of fifteen peer-reviewed articles and three books, including Milton’s Scriptural Reasoning: Narrative and Protestant Toleration (Cambridge Univ. Press) and Rhetorical Faith: The Literary Hermeneutics of Stanley Fish (English Literary Studies). He is the author of fifteen peer-reviewed articles and three books, including The Lost Seeds of Learning: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric as Life-Giving Arts (Classical Academic Press), Milton’s Scriptural Reasoning: Narrative and Protestant Toleration (Cambridge Univ. Press), and Rhetorical Faith: The Literary Hermeneutics of Stanley Fish (English Literary Studies). For over ten years, he has been involved in faculty development for K-12 educators, giving presentations at national and international conferences and at local schools.
Co-Director, Dr. Angel Parham, is Associate Professor of Sociology and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, where she joined the faculty in 2021. Prior to these appointments she was the Rev. Joseph H. Fichter, S.J., Distinguished Professor of Social Science, and Associate Professor at Loyola University—New Orleans. While at Loyola Dr. Parham directed the Social Justice Scholars Program and chaired the African American Studies Program. As indicated by her award-winning publication record, Dr. Parham’s approach to the field of sociology is entirely consonant with the humanities. Her area of specialization is the comparative-historical sociology of race. In American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race (Oxford University Press, 2017), she traces changes in racialization throughout the history of New Orleans. The book was the co-winner of awards from the Social Science History Association and the American Sociological Association. Dr. Parham is also actively engaged in public-facing scholarship aimed at assisting K-12 educators to integrate Black writers and history into their teaching, and she is invested in bringing the insights of classical texts into conversation dialogue with contemporary social issues. She is co-author (with Anika Prather) of a book entitled The Black Intellectual Tradition: Reading Freedom in Classical Literature (Classical Academic Press). Dr. Parham earned a B.A. from Yale University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.
Mr. Davis Thompson, M.Ed., will contribute to the Project Team as a K-12 Specialist. His primary responsibility will be to facilitate the time devoted to the development of individual participant projects, as described in the Program of Study. Davis holds a B.A. in English from Furman University and a M.A. in English Education from Auburn University. For his first two years of teaching, Davis taught ninth grade English at the Montgomery Academy. Since 1999, Davis has taught AP English Literature and Composition, IB English A: Literature, IB Theory of Knowledge, and Creative Writing at Auburn High School in Auburn, Alabama. Davis has also been a coach for the national poetry recitation contest Poetry Out Loud at Auburn High since 2011 and has helped students become the Poetry Out Loud Alabama State Champion four times—with one of those students going on to win the National Poetry Out Loud Championship. Davis participated in the first iteration of the NEH Institute Disputatio in the Pursuit of Wisdom and uses much of what he learned that summer in all of his classes. He is excited to help a new group of teachers bring the disuptatio in their respective educational worlds.
Mrs. Kirsten Welch, M.A., will serve the Project Team as Graduate Assistant. In this capacity her primary task will be to assist Dr. Riley in workshopping participant projects. She will also assist the co-directors in the management of institute affairs. Additionally, she will be present throughout the institute contributing from the perspective of her growing area of expertise, the philosophy of education. Mrs. Welch is currently a second year Ph.D. student in the philosophy of education at Teachers College, Columbia. Previously, Mrs. Welch studied Philosophy and Classics at Baylor University, before earning an M.A. in Philosophy at Northwestern Michigan University.