By Rebecca Flannery
An overwhelming need to connect the world with religious news has led to a new position at the Institute for Studies of Religion, now filled by renowned scholar from Baylor’s history department.
Dr. Thomas Kidd, professor of history, was appointed to associate director of the institute at the start of this semester. The new position focuses on the coordination of events, lectures and conferences as well as social media for the institute.
“I hope to continue to enhance Baylor’s position as one of the strongest schools in the study of religion,” Kidd said. “We have a unique strength and discipline as one of the major centers releasing religious information to the world.”
Kidd said the conferences and lectures are some of the main ways the institute can spread work to lager audiences.
Dr. Philip Jenkins, co-director for the program of historical studies of religion in the institute, said even though Baylor is one of the most well known Christian universities in the world, Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion is a subset of Baylor, comprised of faculty and staff, that works to disseminate religious information to an even wider audience.
“The institute is not an academic department, but rather a think-tank,” Jenkins said. “We’re generating the masses of research created about religion and translating it in ways that are more accessible to the public.”
Jenkins said he worked closely with Kidd in the program of historical studies of religion, where Kidd researched and wrote about the founding fathers of the United States and their religious beliefs. Jenkins said he observed the quality of work Kidd did for the institute.
“Kidd is a very well-known and well-regarded scholar,” Jenkins said. “He has an incredible rate of productivity.”
Jenkins said the measure of success and renown of a scholar is in the quantity of books written over the years in their field. Kidd has written and edited eight books since 2007 and according to the institute’s website, regularly writes for outlets including WORLD magazine, USA Today, and Patheos.com.
In a Baylor press release, Dr. Byron Johnson, co-director of the institute, said Kidd’s appointment is an asset to the program.
“Tommy’s appointment is a testament to our strong relationship with Baylor’s outstanding department of history, where a number of professors are also affiliated with ISR,” Johnson said. “Professor Kidd’s leadership has been instrumental at ISR, and we know he will be an even bigger asset as the associate director.”
Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion’s twitter and facebook regularly relay new information about religious studies, upcoming conferences and lectures the institute fosters. Information about the institution and their social media outreach can be found at twitter.com/BaylorISR and facebook.com/pages/Baylor-Institute-for-Studies-of-Religion.